As a project consultant for Climate Finance Advisors, a prominent consultancy that is a member of WSP USA, I manage and deliver projects that help our clients accelerate sustainable, climate-aligned investments to benefit society, the economy and the environment.
I support clients in finding ways to finance infrastructure projects for climate adaptation and resilience, leverage limited public dollars to accelerate private, climate-aligned investment and mainstream climate-related financial risk into operations, among others.
Tailored Client Solutions Grounded in Finance
I am passionate about the intersection of finance, policy and global affairs in enhancing collaboration and scaling impact for climate change. I graduated from the Yale School of the Environment with a master’s degree in environmental management, as well as Claremont McKenna College with a bachelor’s degree in environmental analysis and leadership studies.
As a political appointee under California Gov. Jerry Brown starting in 2016, I specialized in climate mitigation and coordinated the Under2 Coalition, a group of 220 primarily subnational governments in 43 countries committed to deep emissions reductions consistent with the Paris Agreement. Governments set 2050 targets for decarbonization, but it became clear that many — both domestic and international — did not have sufficient capital to do so. It was in this role that I realized the importance of turning finance from a barrier to a catalyst for implementing climate change solutions at the rapid scale needed.
Under Gov. Gavin Newsom, I specialized in climate adaptation and resilience and supported the Commission on Catastrophic Wildfire Cost and Recovery following the devastating 2017-2018 wildfires across the state, which led to hundreds of lives lost, millions of acres burned and a bankruptcy declaration from one of the state’s major electric utilities. I furthermore recognized that the increasing intensity of climate-driven events, such as wildfires and floods, could reach billions in damages and that the insurance industry played a critical role.
So, I decided to shift my career focus to where I thought I could make more impact: rapidly unlocking financial flows toward climate-aligned investment, with a focus on adaptation and resilience.
My position at WSP excites me because we are tending to issues that need the most attention and creating tailored solutions to the thorniest challenges for our clients. I also love collaborating with and learning from a team with diverse subject matter experts who remain steadfast in tackling the climate crisis and building a more resilient future.
Thorny Challenge of Financing Climate Adaptation and Resilience
The biggest obstacle that I help to unpack for clients is how to not simply fund a project or program, but how to finance climate adaptation and resilience. Unlike climate mitigation projects — such as renewable energy — that have clear revenue streams and common metrics that are financed largely by the private sector, the climate adaptation and resilience space is complex and opaque, spanning a variety of metrics and often relying solely on public sector grants.
The questions are many:
- How can limited public sector dollars accelerate and amplify private investment in resilience projects?
- How can we measure the avoided cost of damages from potential climate-driven events in a range of future possibilities?
- How can we project the financial impacts of physical climate risks recognizing their dependence on emissions reductions actions now?
- Which metrics should we use to account for the variety of climate hazards yet still allow for comparability?
- How can we scale action and investment across jurisdictions while noting that climate adaptation and resilience contexts are locally driven?
There are no easy answers to such questions, which is precisely what drives me to keep learning as much as I can to serve our clients more effectively and help resolve the challenge of financing climate adaptation.
One-Stop Resilience Resource
There has been movement on the financing side but there has likewise been sweeping changes on the funding side. Recent federal legislation — including the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act — have channeled billions toward adaptation and resilience over the next four years. One innovative solution our team developed was a database of federal funding programs known as the U.S. Public Sources for Climate Resilience Investment (US-CRI). No one-stop resource in the federal government exists that compiles all federal programs related to climate adaptation and resilience, and whose impacts are varied and cross-sectoral, and thus spread over dozens of agency websites.
To address this issue, we developed a dynamic, filterable database of more than 100 federal funding programs that target myriad climate adaptation and resilience issues, which we can tailor to client needs and allow them to spend less time identifying appropriate programs and more time applying for them.
For instance, our database searches can be narrowed down by filters, such as resilience theme, fund type, eligible applicants, program award amount and more. Snapshots of our US-CRI database have been featured in publications like the U.S. Climate Alliance’s Governors’ Climate Resilience Playbook and the American Society of Adaptation Professionals and Climate Resilience Consulting’s Ready-to-Fund Resilience Toolkit.
The US-CRI database has also helped identify potential federal funding programs for some WSP transportation and energy projects.
[To subscribe to Insights, contact the editorial staff at [email protected].]