Two internationally recognized experts will co-direct the World Resources Institute’s new climate change Vulnerability and Adaptation Initiative. Dr. Johan Schaar joins WRI from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), where he has served in many leadership roles, including most recently as director of the Department for Policy Support. Heather McGray, who will serve as co-director, has led WRI’s adaptation work since 2007.

“We are thrilled to have Johan and Heather leading this increasingly important line of work,” said Jennifer Morgan, director of WRI’s Climate and Energy Program. “Johan is a widely recognized leader on international development and environmental issues, and brings hands-on experience from many of the world’s most vulnerable countries.”

The Vulnerability and Adaptation Initiative will encourage climate-resilient policies in developing countries to assist poor and marginalized communities facing the impacts of climate change. The program will focus initially on Kenya and India, with the aim of scaling up activities in more countries in Africa and Asia.

“WRI has an excellent and well-deserved reputation as a leader in international climate policy,” said Schaar. “I'm excited to begin collaborating with my new colleagues and expanding our work on climate adaptation, which is an increasingly important response to climate change.”

Prior to his most recent role at Sida, Schaar served as the director for the International Commission on Climate Change and Development. Schaar also had operational responsibility for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ recovery operations following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. He holds a doctorate from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, and has over 25 years of experience in international development, humanitarian and environmental work.

“We are also very excited that Heather will continue to direct WRI’s adaptation work,” Morgan said. “Heather brings a proven track record for developing innovative solutions based on research and analysis, and we look forward to her ongoing leadership in this arena."

McGray has worked with WRI since 2005, conducting research on climate adaptation policies in developing nations, and promoting transparency, participation and accountability in environmental decision-making. McGray's professional experience has included research on environmental management in China; research and negotiations on ISO 14000 environmental standards; coordination of an urban education and development network; and management of educational exchange programs for the Yale-China Association. McGray holds a Masters degree in Environmental Management from Yale University and a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Oberlin College.

“Climate change is already having noticeable impacts in many parts of the developing world. Adapting to a changing climate is necessary if development and poverty reduction are to succeed,” said McGray. “I'm looking forward to working with Johan and the rest of our team to deepen our analysis and design new strategies around this crucial issue.”