Urbanization and Restoration


"If our work does not transform the lives of people, it is just an academic exercise."

—Wanjira Mathai
Vice President and Regional Director, WRI Africa

A passionate advocate for land restoration and sustainable development, Wanjira Mathai brings energetic, innovative leadership to WRI Africa. Her team applies a broad range of expertise in pursuit of vital landscapes, an equitable energy transition and resilient cities.

As Africa’s population and urban areas grow, country leaders on the continent have unique opportunities to develop green infrastructure and expand access to affordable, renewable energy. WRI’s Energy Access Explorer provides an unvarnished look at where energy options are available in underserved areas. Digital Transport for Africa, an open-data platform managed by the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, tracks transportation systems throughout Africa and Latin America, including information on sustainability, accessibility, safety and efficiency.

Land restoration is a core priority for WRI Africa. In a landmark collaboration that began in 2021, the Restoration team began working with partners to launch TerraFund for AFR100, which aims to invest $2 billion from a wide range of global funders into local restoration efforts. In 2021 alone, the fund mobilized $20 million to restore land through local initiatives throughout Africa.

WRI Africa includes country offices in Kenya, Ethiopia, Madagascar and Democratic Republic of Congo. About 70 people work across the continent on issues related to WRI Africa’s three pillars: vital landscapes, thriving and resilient cities, and institutional and economic transformation.


Umbu farmers in Brazil

Saving Forests


"Sustainability in my community in Brazil, and more specifically in São Paulo, is thinking about reducing social inequalities and embracing the power and value of forests."

—Mariana Oliviera
Research Analyst, Cities4Forests
Brazil Manager, WRI Brasil

Mariana Oliviera supports WRI Brasil’s Forests, Land Use and Agriculture program. The country holds more tropical rainforest than any other in the world, which makes nature a central element to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and foster a just, low- carbon economy. Alarming rates of forest loss push the world closer to losing a precious carbon sink.

Through the Assisted Natural Regeneration Alliance, Cities4Forests and other initiatives, Mariana produces research and tools to guide local governments, land owners and other stakeholders to conserve, manage, monitor and restore forests. In 2021, WRI Brasil and the Global Restoration Initiative released the Faces of Restoration project, which tells stories of people in Brazil who are restoring local forests. Mariana was part of the team that brought those stories to life.

Growing evidence links gender equality with enhanced environmental outcomes – a reality that is the basis of WRI’s Gender Equity Practice. Mariana works to ensure gender equality in Brazil’s restoration efforts.

WRI’s climate team in Brazil works to advance a low-carbon economy, identifying paths to combine ambitious climate action with equitable, sustainable development. The Cities program promotes urban resilience, fostering the development of compact urban areas connected by safe, active mobility options and clean, quality public transportation. In 2012, the federal government of Brazil committed to halve road fatalities, which was inspired by WRI- led research and engagement. That commitment came after WRI worked for multiple years with the Ministry of Infrastructure.

WRI Brasil has offices in São Paulo, as well as in Porto Alegre at the country’s southern tip. About 70 people, primarily focused on forests, climate and sustainable cities, work in these two offices.


U.S. President Joe Biden at a supply chain conference

Changing Daily Habits


"I live in Washington, DC, and in my community I find a lot of people are becoming more aware of the climate impact of food."

—Gerard Pozzi
Engagement and Research Specialist, WRI

Gerard Pozzi was part of the core team that launched Cool Food Meals in 2020, a project that aims to revolutionize the way we think about what we eat. Now, the project, which awards a badge to mark restaurant dishes with small carbon footprints, appears on the menus of Panera Bread, MAX Burgers and Aramark. As a researcher in WRI’s Food program, Gerard helps people understand why they need to change the way they eat to help the world sustainably feed 10 billion people by 2050.

WRI’s Food program, which is based in the institute’s office in Washington, D.C., is one example of the matrixed nature of the institute’s work.

The Food team’s research helps inform and benefits from the Systems Change Lab, an initiative of WRI’s Climate program that focuses on effecting transformational change across nearly all systems, including financial, economic, agriculture and more. The Food and Land

Use Coalition, a community of more than 60 organizations and individuals, pursues sustainable ways to grow, distribute and consume food at the grassroots and policy levels around the world. The Better Buying Lab works to help change how people decide what to buy so that their choices prioritize sustainability.

WRI’s office in Washington, DC, is the base of the institute’s US- focused work, as well as many of its programs and core functions that underpin the financial systems, operations, human resources and more.

WRI’s US work focuses on efforts at the national, state and local level to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and advance a strong, equitable and clean energy economy. In 2021, we launched a major new initiative to spur the electrification of the entire U.S. school bus fleet, some 450,000 buses.

WRI’s U.S. team helped raise the U.S. government’s climate ambition, leading to its pledge to cut emissions by 50-52% by 2030 (compared to 2005 levels).


Man on bike in London

Global Policies, Local Change


"When you go through these canals and you think that this country lies well below sea level, it really makes you think about resilience; how important it is to protect and respect nature for our very existence."

—Alberto Pallecchi
Program Manager, WRI Europe

Alberto Pallecchi’s work blends direct engagement with international-level policymaking. For the institute’s Faith and Sustainability Initiative, he identifies ways that spiritual and religious communities can reduce their carbon footprints. For the Water, Peace and Security Partnership, he and the rest of the team work to identify and help resolve potential conflicts connected to water.

Led by Stientje van Veldhoven, who joined WRI in July 2021, the WRI Europe office supports the continent in its global leadership on climate, development and the environment. WRI has a regional office in The Hague, and houses several programs in its London office, including the Ocean program and the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, for which WRI serves as the secretariat.

Among many other projects, WRI Europe’s office in The Hague supports PACE (Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy), which catalyzes business, government and civil society to eliminate waste and safely use natural resources. WRI’s European staff engage closely with funders and core institutional partners, which include the governments of the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden.

Leading up to COP26 in 2021, WRI’s London team advised the COP presidency, including on the Glasgow Leaders Declaration, which includes major commitments for forests and other terrestrial ecosystems.

WRI Europe has offices in The Hague and London. The team of more than 90 people works across the institute’s core issues, with a special emphasis on high-level convenings and negotiations, as well as natural resource security. WRI Europe also has staff in Bonn, Germany, who work on the WRI-hosted NDC Partnership, and in Turkey.


Energy windmills in China

Building Green Infrastructure


"Almost every staff member here — 98% — come to work by public transportation or riding a bicycle."

—Dr. Fang Li
Country Director, WRI China

WRI’s China office, which opened in 2008 as the institute’s first permanent presence outside the U.S., conducts research and provides science-based recommendations to business and government leaders to support the country’s transition toward net zero emissions.

The China team conducted research that supported the government’s 2021 decision to pledge an end to overseas investment in coal power plants. It has also done extensive work on supply chains, including through the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development, which focuses on making China’s Belt and Road Initiative greener.

Together with nearly 50 global partners, the China team initiated the Partnership of Biodiversity and Finance to unite stakeholders, including financial institutions, the private sector, academia, development agencies and social organizations to meet financing needs for biodiversity conservation, improve investment mechanisms and promote global collaboration.

WRI China is based in Beijing, where more than 30 staff conduct research and analysis to promote a sustainable, low-carbon economy. The team’s work prioritizes urban infrastructure and mobility, clean energy and sustainable investments.


Smog in Indian city skyline

Reducing Emissions in Growing Cities


"The work of WRI is critical in ensuring we bring together all the relevant stakeholders and help shift the long-redundant narrative of environment vs. development to climate-smart development."

—Ashwini Hingne
Senior Manager, Climate Program, WRI India

Ashwini Hingne is a climate policy researcher and economist focused on supporting the development of low-carbon policies and pathways for India that also enable a just and equitable transition for all. Her work includes modeling policies for India’s climate goals, exploring the role of carbon pricing instruments and understanding just transition issues.

The WRI India team engages across all sectors, including at the highest levels of government to promote sustainable economic growth. Ashwini and others on the team work on the Tracking
and Strengthening Climate Action initiative, which is part of WRI’s Climate program. Ashwini also leads development of the Green Model Economy for India, as well as WRI India’s work on carbon markets.

WRI India engages in landscape restoration efforts. Those efforts began with the creation of the Restoration Opportunities Atlas for India, and led to the adaptation of the Restoration Opportunities Methodology (ROAM) for the Indian context. Research from the ROAM model was presented to the Government of Madhya Pradesh – India’s second-largest state by area. In response, the government signed an agreement with WRI India to begin restoration efforts in March 2021, beginning with a pilot of about 9,000 hectares.

More than 300 people work for WRI India, which has offices in Mumbai, New Delhi and Bengaluru. The team focuses on low-carbon, resilient and inclusive development in sectors including sustainable transport, electric mobility, renewable energy, energy access, governance, restoration and more.


Ravi Ponnapureddy
In memoriam:

Ravindranath (“Ravi”) Ponnapureddy passed away on May 31, 2021, after battling COVID-19. An accomplished transport planning professional, Ravi served as head of WRI India’s Sustainable Transportation work beginning in 2020. He is remembered as a passionate leader with a commitment to justice and equity. He is survived by his wife, Sujatha, and his two children.


People on a walkway in Indonesia

Pursuing Sustainable Agriculture


"Indonesia is currently the biggest producer of certified, sustainable palm oil in the world. But ironically, I can only find one consumer product that has certified palm oil in Indonesian supermarkets."

—Andika Putraditama
Senior Manager, Forests and Commodities, WRI Indonesia

WRI’s Indonesia team focuses on land use and forestry issues – two sectors in which Andika Putraditama has expertise. As Deputy Program Director for Agriculture, Forests and Land Use, Andika Putraditama leads efforts to create sustainable supply chains for agricultural commodities, in particular those with links to deforestation. One example of this work is the RADD Landscape Monitoring initiative, which uses satellites to identify deforestation in commodities’ supply chains and accelerate collective intervention on the ground.

Elsewhere at WRI, Global Forest Watch, which tracks tree cover loss and other data, has found evidence that efforts to slow the rate of deforestation in Indonesia are working. Primary forest loss rates in Indonesia have slowed every year since 2017.

In 2021, the Indonesian government moved forward its net zero target to 2060 or sooner, from a previous target of 2070. This decision was spurred in part by the Low Carbon Development Initiative’s Green Economy Report, which was initiated by Indonesia’s Ministry of National Development Planning, and was supported by WRI Indonesia and the New Climate Economy, for which WRI serves as the secretariat.

WRI Indonesia is based in Jakarta and has staff members throughout the archipelago. The team works to protect Indonesia’s vast natural resources while enhancing economic potential. Among the office’s many projects are the Clean Energy Investment Accelerator and the Forest Legality Initiative.


Metrobus station in Mexico

Clean Air, Fresh Water


"I am very proud that from WRI we can provide tools, methodologies and data to continue advancing the fight against the climate crisis."

—Ignacio Bernabe Galván
Water and Green Infrastructure Analyst, WRI México

WRI México focuses on creating sustainable technical solutions in the face of the country’s rapid urbanization. Some 80% of the country’s population will live in cities by the end of this decade. Ignacio Bernabe Galván and the rest of the urban development and accessibility team, including those who work on water quality issues, pursue projects across the country. Their work in sparsely populated areas intersects with the team’s other projects in urban areas.

Thanks in part to work by the WRI Cities team, Mexican lawmakers added a constitutional amendment in 2020 guaranteeing that every person has the right to safe, accessible, sustainable mobility. And in 2021, together with the World Bank, WRI launched a Low Speed Zone Guide to help cities make their streets safer.

In Mexico City and elsewhere, WRI México staff work to improve air quality, develop strong climate goals, end deforestation, restore tree cover and protect coastlines and mangroves, in addition to work on circular economy, energy efficiency and renewable energy.

WRI México works on five of the institute’s key sectors: Climate, Cities, Forests, Energy, and the Ocean. The team includes about 80 people based primarily in Mexico City, but with roots throughout the country. WRI México also oversees WRI’s newest office in Bogotá, Colombia.