About the Coalition

The Coalition for Urban Transitions is a fast-growing global initiative to support national governments address pressing economic, inequality and climate challenges by making their cities livable and sustainable.

It is a major collaboration between over 40 research institutes, intergovernmental organizations, investors, infrastructure providers, strategic advisory companies, NGOs and city networks.

As 2 in 3 of us are expected to live in towns and cities by 2050, countries worldwide face a crossroads - continue towards faltering productivity, public health and quality of life as urban sprawl, traffic and air pollution choke access to jobs and services, and climate shocks damage over-stretched essential infrastructure. Or join the leap to the next generation of smart shared clean transport options, green public spaces, energy efficient homes and workplaces and efficient waste management, using new financing tools to provide a springboard for national development.

At the heart of the Coalition’s work is cutting edge research, analysis and policy development, led by world-class member institutions, aiming to provide robust evidence for the best policy options available to national governments, the economic benefits and consequences of action and answers to how to fill the funding gap.

Our work is driven by a commitment to support national governments end extreme poverty and deliver on their 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and to keep our planet climate safe in line with the historic 1.5 degree Paris Climate Agreement.

The Coalition is a special initiative of the New Climate Economy (NCE) and began with the cities chapter Engines of National and Global Growth of the New Climate Economy's 2014 Better Growth, Better Climate Report. It is jointly hosted and managed by the World Resources Institute (WRI) Ross Center for Sustainable Cities and the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40).


Coalition research members

The research members collaborate to fill key knowledge gaps facing national governments looking to help drive progress towards sustainable cities. The members have a steering group made up of work strand leads which meets regularly to test and share ideas and to provide strategic direction and governance for the research programme.

Members include:

  • World Resources Institute (WRI)
  • C40 Climate Leadership Group
  • Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)
  • International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)
  • The Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, at the University of Leeds
  • LSE Cities, at the London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Brookings-Tsinghua Centre for Public Policy, Tsinghua University
  • African Centre for Cities
  • PwC
  • Siemens
  • Overseas Development Institute (ODI)
  • Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER)
  • McKinsey & Company
  • McKinsey.org
  • Organisation for Economic Development and Cooperation
  • Urban Land Institute (ULI)
  • Climate Policy Initiative (CPI)
  • Ethiopian Development Research Institute (EDRI)
  • Economic Policy Research Centre, Uganda
  • Deutsche Asset Management
  • Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI)

Urban Leadership Council

The Council brings together prominent urban, SDG, and climate-focused institutions helps to help steer and champion the Coalition’s work. It is a network of networks, with members having their own well-established leadership groups consisting of mayors of major cities, former heads of state and finance ministers, business leaders, heads of major international organisations, prominent thought leaders, academics and economists as well as civil society. The Council is co-chaired by Andrew Steer, President and CEO of the World Resources Institute and Mark Watts, Executive Director of C40.

Council members include:

  • Amanda Eichel, Executive Director: Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy
  • Andrew Higham, Chief Executive: Mission 2020
  • Andrew Steer, President and CEO: WRI (Co-Chair)
  • Dominic Waughray, Head of Public-Private Partnerships: World Economic Forum (WEF)
  • Emilia Sáiz, Secretary General: United Cities and Local Government (UCLG)
  • Gino van Begin, Secretary-General: ICLEI
  • Guido Schmidt-Traub, Executive Director: UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN)
  • Helen Clarkson, Chief Executive Officer: Climate Group
  • Helen Mountford, Programme Director: New Climate Economy / Global Commission on the Economy and Climate
  • Jeremy Oppenheim, Programme Director: Business & Sustainable Development Commission / Energy Transitions Commission
  • Mark Watts, Executive Director: C40 (Co-Chair)
  • Nigel Topping, Chief Executive Officer: We Mean Business
  • Richard Baron, Executive Director: 2050 Pathways Platform
  • Sheela Patel, Chair: Slum Dwellers International (SDI)
  • Wael Hmaidan, Executive Director: Climate Action Network International (CAN)
  • William Cobbett, Director: Cities Alliance


The Coalition’s work is generously funded by the UK Government’s Department for the International Development (DFID) and department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) through collaborations with partner organisations and a small number of private voluntary donations.

Our Team

The work of the Coalition is supported by a diverse and talented team committed to the idea that transformed cities can play a large part in creating a better and safer world for everyone.


Aniruddha (Ani) Dasgupta, Global Co-Director

Ani is the Global Director of the WRI Ross Centre for Sustainable Cities. He co-founded the Coalition and jointly leads it with Mark Watts, executive director of C40. He provides strategic guidance for the Coalition’s work and takes fiducial responsibility for the programme through the WRI and ensures a close collaboration between the WRI Ross Centre’s global experts and country programmes and the Coalition.

Prior to joining WRI, Ani was the Director of Knowledge and Learning at the World Bank, where he provided leadership and direction for the Bank’s role in offering knowledge services for development. Ani has worked  extensively in Asia and Eastern Europe as a technical expert. He was centrally involved in the post tsunami reconstruction of the town of Aceh in Indonesia as an advisor to the government on housing and infrastructure reconstruction and as the head of the World Bank’s housing and infrastructure team.

Ani holds Masters Degrees in City Planning and Architecture from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). His PhD work, at the planning school at MIT, focused on services for urban poor people. He has a Bachelor degree in Architecture with an emphasis on low Income Housing from the School of Planning and Architecture in India.

Mark Watts, Global Co-Director and Co-Chair of the Urban Leadership Council

Mark is the Executive Director of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40). Mark jointly leads the Coalition with Ani Dasgupta, Global Director of the WRI Ross Centre for Sustainable Cities. He provides strategic guidance for the Coalition’s work and convenes the Urban Leadership Council of sector network leaders alongside Andrew Steer, President and CEO of the World Resources Institute. Mark has led the growth of C40 from 63 member cities to 96, with the majority of member cities now from the global south, along with significant growth in C40's staffing and operations. Mark has brought an additional focus to C40 on inclusive climate action, supporting cities in tackling climate change whilst addressing issues of poverty and social inequality. Mark is the driving force behind C40’s Deadline 2020 programme, which provides the first routemap for member cities to reduce emissions in line with the 1.5-degree maximum temperature rise target of the Paris Climate Agreement. Prior to joining C40, Mark was the Director of Energy and Climate Change at consultancy firm Arup, and from 2000 to 2008 a senior adviser to the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone. Mark is a Senior Associate of the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership.

Nick Godfrey, Programme Director

Nick co-founded the Coalition for Urban Transitions as a special initiative on cities of the New Climate Economy. He led the cities chapter of the seminal 2014 New Climate Economy report ‘Better Growth: Better Climate’ and saw the need for a dedicated effort to engage and support national governments to help drive a transformation of the world’s cities. Nick leads the daily running of the Coalition and is a driving force behind its ambitious vision and rapid growth. Nick is a macro-economist with over a decade’s experience in the public and private sectors providing strategic and economic advice on responding to climate change, resource scarcities, and catalysing economic development. Previously Nick helped establish the futures team for management and technical consultants Atkins, which provides leading thinking on the future of cities. He worked at the UK government’s Department for International Development supporting the climate change negotiations and the design of the UK’s International Climate Fund. He also worked for the Government of Guyana leading a team to develop its national economic development strategy. Nick holds a first class honours in economics from the University of Nottingham and a Masters in development economics from the University of Manchester for which he was awarded the Dehn Prize for outstanding academic achievement.

Senior Advisors

Andrea Fernández, Senior Advisor

Andrea is the Director of Governance & Global Partnerships for C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and part of C40's management team. She is a member of the Senior Management Team of the Coalition, guiding particularly on the global impact strategy and new partnerships.

At C40, Andrea is responsible for overseeing the city diplomacy and finance programmes, and driving new strategic priorities and partnerships. Before joining C40, Andrea worked as a consultant at Arup for 11 years, leading high profile engagements related to sustainability and climate change in the urban environment, with a focus on policy, funding, governance and delivery strategies. Andrea also worked in the World Bank’s Private Sector Development Department for five years. Andrea has a Bachelor’s degree in International Business and Economics from Concordia University and an MBA with a finance specialisation from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.

Seth Schultz, Senior Advisor

Seth Schultz is the founder of Urban Breakthroughs and is currently serving as the Special Adviser on Science & Innovation to the Global Covenant of Mayors where he is spearheading the development of a global research agenda for cities on science and innovation. He is also a Lead Author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) 2018 Special Report on 1.5 Degrees (SR 1.5).

Seth co-founded the Coalition and sits on the Senior Management Team providing strategic guidance particularly on opportunities to reach national decision makers with the Coalition’s work.

Seth is a former Global Co-Director of the Coalition and former Director of Science & Innovation at C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group where he was instrumental in leading the organization through a period of rapid growth and impact and co-led the 2018 IPCC special conference on cities. Previously, Seth worked closely with cities on climate and sustainable development issues at the Clinton Foundation and the U.S. Green Building Council and has a further 10 years of experience in the private sector managing contracts and clients at the city, state, regional and federal level. He is a sought-after speaker on topics including urban innovation, big data and co-generation of knowledge. He holds a Bachelors in Environmental Science from Binghamton University, USA.

Team Heads

Sarah Colenbrander, Head of the Global Programme

Sarah leads the global programme of the Coalition, which produces robust, policy-relevant evidence tailored for national governments. Sarah works with an array of different partners to design, deliver and disseminate this research, bringing together research institutes, government networks, investors, infrastructure providers, engineering and consultancy firms. This global programme is focused on universal challenges, such as national urban policies, financing sustainable infrastructure and harnessing technological innovations to enhance the performance of cities.

Sarah is seconded from the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), where she is a Senior Researcher. In this capacity, she works closely with networks of grassroots organisations on innovative financing for basic infrastructure. In addition to academic publications, she has contributed to reports published by the World Bank, the New Climate Economy and UN Environment. She is a guest lecturer at the University of Oxford, University College London and the University of Manchester, and serves as Associate Editor for the peer-reviewed journal Environment and Urbanization.

Larissa Fernandes Da Silva, Head of Programme Management and Operations

Larissa leads the programme management of the Coalition and is a member of the Senior Management Team. She is on secondment from the WRI Ross Centre for Sustainable Cities where she is a Senior Manager for Global Projects & Initiatives, responsible for project oversight and management of large, multi-sectoral and multi-country projects, as well as stewarding relationships with some of the Center's most strategic donors. She also manages special initiatives and leads development of new business lines.

Before the WRI Ross Centre, Larissa was a key player in the creation of the Latin American Association of Integrated Transport Systems and Bus Rapid Transit (SIBRT), participating in the development of its organizational structure and strategy, as well as leading its legal incorporation in Colombia and in Brazil, and the organization of its trainings, workshops and international conferences. She was also the organization’s Operations and Project Manager and elected Treasurer for 3 years.

Louise Hutchins, Head of Impact, Engagement and Communications

Louise leads the strategic impact programme to ensure the Coalition has a clear powerful voice on the global stage and with key national governments. She works closely with the Urban Leadership Council and global research partners to build a broad platform of support for bold national government action to help deliver rapid and profound transformation of cities. She is a member of the Senior Management Team.

Louise is an experienced political strategist, communications expert and policy expert.  Before joining the Coalition, Louise served as a special advisor to Ecuador’s Environment Minister during the Paris climate negotiations and the Foreign Affairs Minister during Ecuador’s presidency of the G77 plus China group of 134 developing countries. Previously, Louise led national and global campaigns for Greenpeace including a major sector-wide coalition to secure the UK government’s historic commitment to phase out coal and campaigns to protect the melting Arctic from oil drilling and industrial fishing. She was a regular university guest lecturer on climate communications and international campaign strategy and a frequent expert media commentator on energy and climate issues.


Giulia De Giovanni, Program Coordinator and Research Analyst

Giulia provides support to the Director with project coordination, financial administration and bespoke research. She also responsible for the organisation of key partnership meetings. Giulia previously worked in London for the New Climate Economy project as Project Administrator. She also worked for a non-profit, the Ethical Fashion Forum. During her Master’s degree, Giulia worked for a microcredit company, MyC4 in Kenya, to study the impacts of microcredit on poverty alleviation. She also volunteered for a Kenyan NGO, Right 2 Thrive, dedicated to women’s empowerment in the informal settlements of Nairobi. She holds a Bsc in Environmental and Development Economics from Roma Tre University and a Msc in Business and Development Studies from Copenhagen Business School. During her Bsc she spent a year in France at Université d’Auvergne.Team

Catlyne Haddaoui, Research Analyst

Catlyne is an economist, and is involved in the writing of various reports and is responsible for providing original quantitative analysis. Catlyne previously worked as a researcher at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI, London) and as an economist at the Department for International Development of the French Ministry of Foreign affairs. She also has work experience in Sub-Saharan Africa. Catlyne holds a MPhil in Development Economics from the Centre for Studies and Research on International Development (CERDI, France).

Anton Cartwright, Africa Programme Lead

Anton coordinates the Coalition’s country programmes in Tanzania and Ghana and has been at the forefront of establishing ‘urbanization laboratories’ bringing together the national governments with key stakeholders and researchers to ask and answer the big questions facing the country’s cities.

Anton was the ‘Green Economy’ researcher for the City of Cape Town under the Mistra Urban Futures programme, 2013-2015. Previously he convened the City of Cape Town’s Climate Change Think Tank. His work focuses on the application of economics to Africa’s urban transition, environmental degradation and poverty alleviation and the implication of these issues for the discipline of economics. He holds two post-graduate degrees (in Environmental Change and Management and in Economics for Development) from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He is a Senior Associate at the Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership and a Lead Author on the IPCC's Special Report on 1.5°C. He has completed assignments for the New Climate Economy, World Bank, The European Union, The Food and Agriculture Organization, DfID, WWF, IIED the Fairtrade Foundation and a range of local and international companies, NGOs and governments. He is also a founding Director of the not-for-profit organization Promoting Access to Carbon Equity (PACE), and is chairman of the board of iKhaya le Themba, an aftercare centre for children in Imizamo Yethu, Cape Town.

Michael Westphal, Senior Associate

Michael is a Senior Associate in the Sustainable Finance team. He is working on a number of research and analysis projects related to international climate finance. Michael has 18 years of experience working in the environment, climate change and international development fields. Prior to joining WRI, Michael was a Senior Associate at Abt Associates, where he was the Technical Director for the USAID Analysis and Investment for Low-Emission Growth project. He has worked for and consulted for a number of international organizations, including the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, African Development Bank and the United Nations Development Programme. For the ADB, he co-led a study on the Economics of Climate Change in East Asia. At the World Bank, he co-authored a number of reports, including the World Development Report 2010: Development and Climate Change, Adapting to Climate Change in Europe and Central Asia, and Adaptation to a Changing Climate in the Arab Countries, as well as helping to lead the development of the World Bank Climate Change Knowledge Portal. Prior to this, Michael was an American Association for the Advancement of Science and Technology Policy Fellow in the EPA’s Office of International Affairs, where he worked with the State Department on a science cooperation and weapons non-proliferation project in the former Soviet Union. Michael holds a PhD in Environmental Science, Policy and Management from the University of California at Berkeley, with a focus on ecological modeling and conservation planning.

Rachel Spiegel, Communications Assistant

Rachel leads the social media work for the Coalition and coordinates the proofreading, copy editing and design of research papers. Rachel works for the majority of her time at NCE supporting the delivery of media, outreach efforts and publications. Rachel previously worked in the State Department with the Office of the Special Envoy for Climate Change, where she was involved with various research projects to support the U.S.-India bilateral climate partnership, work related to the Arctic Council, and implementation of the Paris Agreement. Rachel holds a B.A. in Environmental Analysis and International Studies from Pitzer College in Claremont, CA.

Carrie Dellesky, Global Project Management Associate

Carrie manages reporting and proposals related to strategic partners, in order to steward donor relationships and support fundraising efforts. She works for the majority of her time at the WRI Ross Centre for cities as Global Project Management Associate. Prior to joining WRI, Carrie worked for American University’s Honors Program, managing the budget and coordinating programs. Carrie holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from American University, with a concentration in International Management. She also holds Bachelor’s degrees in International Studies and Communication from The Ohio State University.

Leah Lazer, Research Analyst

Leah researches and writes about the intersection of urban development and climate change, focusing on transit, housing, inclusivity, and resilience. She is on secondment from the Urban Development unit in Siemens Center of Competence - Cities, where she consults about the impact of emerging technologies on cities worldwide. Leah holds a M.Sc. in Regional and Urban Planning Studies (Merit) from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a B.A. in Food System Studies magna cum laude from Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts. She previously managed the Philadelphia office of an environmental education NGO, was a farmer and farm educator, served on the Board of Directors of Fair Food Philadelphia, and was the youngest appointed member of the Mayor of Philadelphia's Food Policy Advisory Council.