What led you to a career in climate finance?
I loved science as a kid, especially biology. My studies evolved to environmental economics in grad school, and I was fortunate to do field work in the Andean Mountains. I surveyed households about what it would take for them to adopt more sustainable land practices. Across three case studies, each in a different country, respondents were happy to accept payment as incentive, but the real issue was that they faced serious market constraints to changing their practices, the greatest of which was access to affordable capital. Through this research, I also witnessed, in community after community, how the most vulnerable are the most exposed to climate risk and most dependent on nature’s services. I never turned back.
Tell us about your previous experience?
Before joining Pollination, I had the honour of spending the better part of a decade working in International Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. There, I was most recently Senior Policy Advisor for Climate and Sustainable Finance, working with international partners to promote sustainable finance and address climate-related financial risk globally. During that time, the United States rejoined the Paris Agreement and took much more active roles in relevant international financial forums, including Treasury co-chairing the reinvigorated G20 Sustainable Finance Working Group, which I was intimately involved with. But the most memorable role I held at Treasury was working on the Green Climate Fund (GCF) in the run up to COP21, when climate action was a huge second-term priority for the Obama administration. It was a thrilling couple of years establishing the GCF’s basic institutional policies, executing the initial resource mobilization and approving the first ever round of GCF projects.
What does your role at Pollination involve?
I’ve been working with financial sector clients on going net zero, mobilizing climate finance to emerging markets and developing economies, and realizing the positive potential of carbon markets. Working at Pollination is really a mindset: we do whatever it takes to drive finance for the net zero, nature positive transition. Day to day we pull on our expertise across law, finance, policy, and technology and work with clients to identify what must change to deliver the transition; develop solutions to make it happen; and find ways to finance it all.
What makes Pollination unique and what do you enjoy most about the role?
Finance is the linchpin of delivering net zero, which Pollination is addressing from every angle. That’s Pollination’s special sauce: that it works across asset management, project investment, and advisory, all focused on climate and nature, so we really can connect the dots where others can’t. That said, the team is what sealed the deal for me to join. Pollination is full of smart, collegiate, and dedicated people all brought together by our common goal, which is of course the true value of the firm.
Thinking of our values, which one resonates most with you?
Relentless tenacity. We are in the decade of delivery, and there is nowhere to hide. All sectors, everywhere, need to decarbonize and get nature positive, fast. And we need to make this transition while also addressing other massive global challenges – pandemic, war, food and energy crises. I sometimes compare working on climate and nature to rowing. A 2,000-meter race is a brutal sprint and endurance event simultaneously, where you must know where you are going even when you are facing the other direction, and throughout which you are rocked around by the elements. To get through it, you sync up with your crew, adjust to the conditions, and move forward, stroke by stroke, meter by meter.
What makes you optimistic about the future?
I am heartened by the huge swell of climate commitments by non-State actors over the last few years. The climate community has done such great work to establish global climate goals and a framework for action, and countries around the world have made climate commitments we couldn’t have imagined even just a few years ago. But implementing policy sufficient to achieve those commitments is an uphill battle – proven again recently by the U.S. Supreme Court decision in West Virginia vs. EPA and yet another impasse on legislative action by the U.S. Congress. While I hope and expect national climate policy around the world to continue forward in the right direction, we also need a strong ground game from businesses, financials, cities, and, well, everyone. Seeing the push for net zero coming from all corners is what keeps me optimistic about the future.