The growth of urban populations and economies demands investment in urban infrastructure and institutions. In a rapidly urbanising world, cities need to play a leading role in addressing global challenges: poverty, inequality, environmental degradation, and climate change. National economic decision-makers have a critical role to play in unlocking the potential of cities. They can establish the enabling policies and mobilise the resources required to transition to more prosperous and sustainable cities. They can also empower cities and regions to act more effectively by equipping them with the necessary authority, resources and capacities.
The Coalition for Urban Transitions is a major international initiative which supports national decision-makers to unlock the power of cities for enhanced national economic, social, and environmental performance, including reducing the risk of climate change. The initiative aims to shift away from business-as-usual trends by building the high-level political commitment and capabilities necessary to pursue a more compact, connected, coordinated model of urban growth. This can help deliver more inclusive and sustainable economic development, lifting millions out of poverty while cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
The initiative fills a critical gap by focusing on national economic decision-makers as opposed to solely operating at the city level. These decision-makers need access to reliable, relevant information and examples in order to make informed decisions about large-scale urban planning and infrastructure investment. The mission of the Coalition is to support national governments through:
- generating robust, ground-breaking evidence to fill critical knowledge gaps about how to successfully manage national urban transitions;
- presenting the evidence in a clear and compelling way that demonstrates the central importance of cities for sustainable and inclusive development; and
- delivering these messages through trusted leaders and institutions to national economic decision-makers, working hand-in-hand with them and other stakeholders to generate the relevant knowledge, tools, and policy recommendations to act.
The Coalition for Urban Transitions is hosted by the World Resources Institute (WRI) Ross Center for Sustainable Cities and jointly managed by C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and WRI, and is a special initiative of New Climate Economy (NCE). Together, WRI and C40 represent or have worked in over 100 of the world’s leading cities. At the heart of the Coalition is a partnership of over 20 leading institutions and their practice leaders including major research institutes, intergovernmental organizations, major investors, infrastructure providers, and strategic advisory companies.
Coalition members include WRI, C40, Stockholm Environment Institute, the International Institute for Environment and Development, The Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (at the University of Leeds), LSE Cities (at the London School of Economics and Political Science), PWC, Siemens, the Overseas Development Institute, the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, Tsinghua University, Deutsche Bank, the African Centre for Cities, McKinsey Centre for Business and Environment, the OECD, the Urban Land Institute, Climate Policy Initiative, the Ethiopian Development Research Institute, Economic Policy Research Centre (Uganda), and the Global Green Growth Institute.
The Urban Leadership Council help to steer the Coalition’s research and are ambassadors for its work. Consisting of representatives from prominent urban, SDG, and climate-focused institutions, the Council helps identify the big evidence gaps related to the urban realm, and works to mainstream the urban agenda within the global economic conversation to drive transformative change in key countries and regions. The Council 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, academia and economists as well as civil society.
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 for Urban Transitions is led by Global Co-Directors Ani Dasgupta and Seth Schultz and by Director Nick Godfrey. The project team is based in London and in Washington D.C.
Executive Management Team
Ani Dasgupta, Global Co-Director
Aniruddha (Ani) Dasgupta is the Global Co-Director of the Coalition for Urban Transitions, and is the Global Director of WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, WRI’s program that galvanizes action to help cities grow more sustainably and improve quality of life in developing countries around the world. Ani guides WRI Sustainable Cities in developing environmentally, socially, and financially sustainable solutions to improve people’s quality of life in developing cities. Ani leads the program’s team of global experts in sustainable transport, urban development and building efficiency, as well as its engagement across low-carbon energy, governance, water risk, and associated areas as well as serves as a member of WRI’s global management team, helping to shape the institute’s overall strategy and growth.
Prior to joining WRI, Ani served at 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. An urban professional, Ani has dedicated himself for over 15 years to international development with a focus on the urbanization, urban environment and infrastructure. He has done extensive operational work in Asia and Eastern Europe as a technical expert centered on community based development, urban environment, disaster management, solid waste management, water supply and sanitation. He was extensively involved in the post tsunami reconstruction of Aceh as an advisor to the government on housing and infrastructure reconstruction and as the head of the Bank’s housing and infrastructure team.
Ani holds a Masters Degree in City Planning and a Masters Degree in Architecture, both from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). His PhD work, at the planning school at MIT, focused on services for urban poor. He received a Bachelor degree in Architecture with an emphasis on low Income Housing from the School of Planning and Architecture in India.
Seth Schultz, Global Co-Director
Seth Schultz is the Global Co-Director of the Coalition for Urban Transitions and is the Director of Science & Innovation at C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. Seth is currently a Lead Author on the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) Special Report on 1.5 Degrees (SR 1.5), and is a Co-Chair of the Scientific Steering Committee for the International Conference on Cities and Climate Change Science being held in Edmonton, Canada. More broadly, Seth works to raise international awareness on the role of cities in tackling climate change. Seth has been at C40 since 2011 and has been instrumental in leading the organization through a period of rapid growth and impact. Prior to his experience at C40, Seth worked closely with cities on climate and sustainable development issues at the Clinton Foundation and the U.S. Green Building Council; he 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 and is the lead author on numerous reports such as Deadline 2020, Climate Action in MegaCities 3.0, Powering Climate Action: Cities as Global Changemakers, and the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GPC). He holds a bachelors degree in Environmental Science from Binghamton University and lives in New York.
Nick Godfrey, Director
Nick Godfrey is the Director of the Coalition for Urban Transitions, responsible for the day to day direction and operation of the Coalition. An economist by background, Nick has over ten years’ experience in the public and private sectors providing strategic and economic advice in relation to responding to climate change, resource scarcities, catalysing economic development, and sustainable urbanisation. Until recently, he was the Head of Policy and Urban Development for the New Climate Economy and the coordinating author of the last three cities chapters of the flagship reports of the Global Commission for the Economy and Climate, a partnership of 26 former heads of state, finance Ministers, CEO’s, and thought leaders examining how countries can achieve economic growth while dealing with the risks posed by climate change. Nick previously worked for the Atkins futures team, providing leading thinking on the future of cities. Prior to this Nick worked at DFID supporting the climate change negotiations and the design of the UK’s International Climate Fund, as well as 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, U.K. and a Masters in development economics for which he was awarded the Dehn Prize for outstanding academic achievement by the University of Manchester, U.K. In his spare time, Nick loves to scuba dive, play squash, go to gigs, see friends, and hang out with his wife, Rachel, and two young daughters, Eva and Zoe. Nick lives in London, U.K.
Giulia de Giovanni, Program Coordinator and Research Analyst
Giulia De Giovanni is the Program Coordinator and Research Analyst for the Coalition for Urban Transitions. Giulia provides full 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. In London, she also worked for a non-profit, the Ethical Fashion Forum, getting therefore experience of the sustainable and ethical fashion. During her Master’s degree, Giulia went to Kenya and worked for a microcredit company, MyC4, to study the impacts of microcredit on poverty alleviation. She also volunteered for a Kenyan NGO, Right 2 Thrive, dedicated to women empowerment in the slums 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 one academic in year in France at Université d’Auvergne in Clermont Ferrand.
Sarah Colenbrander, Global Programme Lead and Senior Economist
Sarah is the Global Programme Lead and Senior Economist with the Coalition for Urban Transitions. Sarah is responsible for conducting and managing high-quality and innovative research across the partner institutions. She also works closely with networks of grassroots organisations on innovative financing for basic infrastructure. In particular, she works with with SDI and the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights on securing access to multilateral climate funds and establishing partnerships with private actors such as commercial banks, property developers and engineering firms. Resourcing community-led processes in this way can foster more inclusive forms of urban development. In addition to academic publications, she has contributed to reports published by the World Bank, the New Climate Economy and UN Environment. She is also 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.
Catlyne Haddaoui, Research Assistant
Catlyne is a researcher for the Coalition for Urban Transitions. As an economist, she 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).
Leah Lazer, Research Assistant
Leah Lazer is a researcher at the Coalition for Urban Transitions, where she 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.
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.
Anton Cartwright, Africa Programme Co-Lead
Anton Cartwright co-leads the day to day strategy and operations of the Coalition’s Africa programme in Tanzania and Ghana. Anton was the ‘Green Economy’ Mistra Urban Futures Researcher at the African Centre Cities from 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 itself. 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 an associate of the Stockholm Environment Institute and the Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership. 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 government departments. 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.
Kate Owens, Africa Programme Co-Lead
Kate Owens co-leads the day to day strategy and operations of the Coalition’s Africa programme in Tanzania and Ghana. She is also Urban Development Manager at the World Resources Institute where she leads global research and develops tools to help better manage cities approach to economic development and long-term planning. Prior to joining WRI and the Coalition, Kate worked in commercial real estate and international development. Her commercial real estate experience was at Jones Lang LaSalle in the Public Institutions group that advised various levels of the US government on large-scale public private real estate projects and Wells Fargo where she provided debt to commercial real estate developers along the East Coast of the United States. Kate has also held various roles at the World Bank including supporting global work on strategy and housing as well as operational work in Eastern Europe and South Asia as well as Sub-Saharan Africa. She holds an undergraduate degree in public policy and economics from the University of Chicago and a PhD in urban planning from the University of Michigan. Her dissertation examined the development of private real estate markets in three cities in Tanzania.
Louise Hutchins, Head of Impact and Engagement
Louise is the impact and engagement lead for the Coalition for Urban Transitions. Louise is responsible for ensuring the Coalition’s world-class research and policy analysis reaches national government policy makers and works closely with the Urban Leadership Council and opinion leaders to help drive the importance of government action on cities up the global agenda.
Before joining the Coalition, Louise served as a senior 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 to secure the UK government’s historic commitment to phase out coal and to protect the melting Arctic from oil drilling and industrial fishing. She was a regular guest lecturer on climate communications and international campaign strategy and a frequent media commentator on energy and climate issues.
Cristina Mendoca, Senior Manager, Implementation Research & Engagement
Cristina Mendonça serves as C40’s Implementation Research & Engagement Senior Manager, coordinating research aimed at removing direct barriers to implementing climate actions on the ground. She is the Research and Engagement Manager for the Coalition for Urban Transitions (a New Climate Economy special initiative). Also, as Manager of C40’s Office in Rio, she advises and collaborates with the city’s political, administrative and technical leadership to design and implement the strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and climate risk. Prior to that, Cristina worked closely with the Chair and C40’s Executive Leadership to set and communicate strategic vision and to support and coordinate Steering Committee participation. Cristina has been working with the Clinton Climate Initiative and C40 for the past 10 years. Before joining C40, Cristina worked for 14 years advising companies on industrial processes, sustainable development, innovation technology, and renewable energy with a focus on optimizing production processes. Cristina is a chemical engineer and a specialist in research and development in chemical process. She holds a Masters in Urban and Environmental Engineering from the Pontifical Catholic University in Rio and from the Technische Braunschweig Universitat, and an Executive MBA from the COPPEAD Graduate School of Business at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.
Ferzina Banaji, Director of Communications and Engagement
Ferzina Banaji is the Director of Communications and Engagement for the Coalition for Urban Transitions and for the New Climate Economy project. Prior to joining NCE, she was the Communications Manager for WRI’s Global Climate Program. She previously led climate change communications for BBC Media Action, the BBCs international charity arm, and was based in New Delhi. She managed projects that ranged from improving the quality and quantity of climate coverage in the Indian media, to overseeing a 7-country research survey on perceptions of climate change in Asia, and to producing emergency programming for cyclone-hit communities. Earlier in her career, she taught film and philosophy at Cambridge and wrote a book on how media can change conceptions of history, memory and identity. Ferzina has an Mphil and a PhD from the University of Cambridge and Bachelors’ degrees from the Universities of Paris and Mumbai. She is on the Board of the DC Environmental Film Festival, the world’s premier showcase of environmentally themed films.
Emily Kaldjian, Communications Manager
Emily Kaldjian is the Communications Manager for the Coalition for Urban Transitions. Emily previously worked for WRI’s Forest Legality Initiative, raising awareness of the Initiative’s work and strengthening and expanding partnerships with FLI’s members through communications and outreach support. Before joining WRI, Emily was based in Armenia, where she managed communications for an international reforestation NGO, worked as an environmental journalist, and consulted at the American University of Armenia’s Acopian Center for the Environment. She has also worked in communications for the National Audubon Society. Emily has experience in many communications mediums, including journalism, photography and filmmaking. Emily received a dual B.A. in Environmental Studies and French from Bates College.
Rachel Spiegel, Communications Assistant
Rachel is the Communications Assistant for the Coalition for Urban Transitions. She supports the execution of on-going strategy and specific media and outreach efforts, assisting with developing communications and influence strategies, developing tactical communications products such as publications, and maintaining media relationships and high-profile external exposure for Coalition products and analysis. 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.
Project Management and Operations
Larissa Fernandes da Silva, Head of Programme Management and Operations
Larissa is the Senior Manager, Global Projects & Initiatives, for the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities. She is 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. Larissa has over 14 years of professional experience. Working at WRI’s Washington D.C. office since 2010, she has a successful track record of managing large-scale multinational and multi-sectoral projects, building productive relationships and navigating complex issues in culturally diverse settings. 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.
Carrie Dellesky, Global Project Management Associate
Carrie Dellesky is the Global Project Management Associate for the Coalition for Urban Transitions and the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities. She manages projects, reporting, and proposals related to strategic partners, in order to steward donor relationships and support fundraising efforts. Carrie previously worked at WRI as a Program Coordinator, supporting multiple teams with managing financials, grants, contracts, operations, and knowledge management. Prior to joining WRI, Carrie worked for American University’s Honors Program, managing the budget and coordinating programs. During graduate school, Carrie interned with the Millennium Challenge Corporation in Mongolia, assisting the Environmental and Social Assessment team to implement a hazardous materials and waste management program and to evaluate and manage environmental and social risks and performance. She has also consulted for the Anacostia Watershed Society, developing a monitoring, evaluation, research, and learning (MERL) plan for the Watershed Stewards Academy program. 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, with minors in Natural Resources Management and International Economic Development
Chihsin Wang, Project Coordinator
Chi is the Project Coordinator for the Coalition for Urban Transitions and the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities. She supports the team with managing grant deliverables, financials and reporting. Prior to joining the Coalition and WRI, Chi worked for a non-profit agency focusing on humanitarian and cultural issues. She designed and implemented programs for the pan-Asian communities in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Chi holds a MA in Economics from University of New Mexico with a focus on Environmental Economics and Watershed Management. She also completed a Post-Degree Certificate in Paralegal Studies.