Manish Bapna believes that the path to solving global climate change runs straight through China, which is why the World Resources Institute is putting so much effort into working closely with the country and its leaders.
Manish Bapna is the executive vice president and managing director of World Resources Institute (WRI), where one of his priorities is deepening WRI’s involvement in China. WRI first began working in China in the late 1980s, concentrating on helping create cleaner transportation systems in cities and on finding investors for small- and medium-size companies that sell environmentally friendly products and services.
Two years ago WRI opened an office in Beijing, its first office outside of Washington, D.C. The organization has now broadened its work in China to include climate change and water.
Bapna brings a great deal of global experience to this work. Before joining WRI, he was the executive director of the nonprofit Bank Information Center (BIC), which promotes sustainability in the projects and policies of international financial institutions. Before joining BIC, Bapna was a senior economist and task team leader at the World Bank, where he led multidisciplinary teams in designing and implementing community-driven water, watershed, and rural development projects in Asia and Latin America.
WRI focuses on policy research and analysis, working with government, business, and NGOs. With more than 200 employees and an annual budget of about $28 million, WRI has been an important behind-the-scenes player, helping Belize protect its ocean reefs and prodding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to create new regulations for biofuel greenhouse gas emissions.
In this interview with Stanford Social Innovation Review Managing Editor Eric Nee, Bapna explains the deliberative way that WRI went about setting up its Beijing office, the challenges of working with the Chinese government, and the lessons WRI has learned from working in China that other organizations can benefit from.