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Policy and Sustainable Finance Program

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The rapid pace of energy and economic transition required to meet global climate and development goals will require an extraordinary investment by the public sector, private sector, and financial sector. It has been estimated that meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will require an additional $2.5 trillion in private and public financing per year, and an additional $13 trillion will be required to implement the Paris Agreement. Failure to deploy these resources will jeopardize efforts to limit the most dangerous impacts of climate change and to chart a course toward a sustainable global future.

At the Center for Global Sustainability, our policy and sustainable finance activities support global efforts to increase investments in sustainability. Our approach is rooted in the idea that thought leadership, knowledge creation, and education are deeply linked to real-world engagement and practice. To this end, CGS brings together a set of global thought leaders, researchers, and leading practitioners devoted who work closely with partners in the policy community, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations. In addition, through an integrated program of complementary projects, sustainable finance activities at CGS are linked to a broader set of sustainability issues facing the world today. Our base within a leading research university provides a strong platform to disseminate a unique knowledge of policy and sustainable finance and for the next generation of leaders to learn from our scholar-practitioners in this essential field.

  • The Initiative on Closing the Investment Gap (CIG) in Sustainable Infrastructure: CIG is developing a country-led, facilitated approach to close this investment gap. This approach involves the governments of developing countries working with investors and financial sector representatives to prepare key projects so that they are well aligned with the criteria of private capital. In addition to the goal of attracting private investment for project development and construction, CIG aims to help countries structure projects that can fit into portfolios of institutional investors. This approach minimizes demand for increasingly scarce public capital, using it sparingly to de-risk projects and to mobilize private sector investment to the greatest degree possible.
  • Conowingo Watershed Implementation Plan Financing: This project aims to develop and establish a new water quality restoration financing system with a specific focus on mitigating the impacts of the Conowingo Hydroelectric Dam. When established this new system will facilitate upwards to $1billion in water quality investments.
  • Scenario Analysis for the Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS): CGS researchers are working with a consortium of integrated assessment modeling teams to support NGFS. They are producing scenarios using the GCAM model and exploring macroeconomic impacts of climate change and climate change mitigation on economic output.
  • Scaling-up low-carbon investment through public-private partnership: CGS works to explore how green banks are developed and used in the United States to improve clean energy and energy efficiency investment at the state and local levels and how this model can be applied in other countries, particularly China.
  • The Local Resilience Financing Initiative: This initiative expands local capacity to finance local resilience priorities, including natural infrastructure, in the United States. Current focus areas include Anne Arundel County, Charles County, and Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
  • Policies for Net-zero Buildings: CGS works to assess what business models, financing mechanisms, and enabling policies can help promote net-zero carbon building policies and deep retrofits and inform China's 14th five-year plan.

These activities are part of a larger portfolio of sustainability activities at CGS that are mutually supporting and reinforcing. Our Analytics for Climate Ambition activity areas seeks to bring high-quality analysis to bear on real-world policymaking around climate mitigation. Our China Program informs on China’s climate, energy, and environment strategies. The program on Energy Pathways: Innovation, Economics, and Policy has a unique focus on regional clean energy innovation in the U.S. Our program in Resilience, Adaptation, and Capacity Building emphasizes the importance of local engagement in county-led resilience planning efforts. Activities at our sister institute, the Joint Global Change Research Institute (JGCRI) focuses on integrated assessment modeling and engagement with country-level partners around the world to support decision-making on climate change mitigation and sustainable development. Activities beyond CGS in the School of Public Policy include additional sustainability research and robust programs in international development and social policy.


Learn more about other relevant CGS projects here.

Our team includes experts from within CGS, the School of Public Policy, and JGCRI. 

  • Rosina Bierbaum, Roy F. Weston Chair in Natural Economics at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy, and Professor and Dean Emerita of the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment
  • Leon Clarke, Research Director, Center for Global Sustainability; Research Professor, School of Public Policy, University of Maryland
  • Michael Eckhart, Clinical Professor of Sustainable Finance, University of Maryland, School of Public Policy
  • Jae Edmonds, Chief Scientist and Battelle Laboratory Fellow, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; College Park Professor, University of Maryland, School of Public Policy
  • Meredydd Evans, Senior Staff Scientist, Joint Global Change Research Institute (JGCRI), Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; Associate Research Scholar, University of Maryland, School of Public Policy
  • Nathan Hultman, Director, Center for Global Sustainability; Professor, University of Maryland, School of Public Policy
  • Amber Leonard, Executive Director of the Initiative on Closing the Investment Gap in Sustainable Infrastructure
  • Jiehong Lou, Post-Doctoral Researcher, Center for Global Sustainability, University of Maryland, School of Public Policy
  • Alan Miller, Independent Consultant on Climate Change Policy
  • Irving Mintzer, Director, Closing the Investment Gap Initiative; Research Professor, School of Public Policy, University of Maryland
  • Dan Nees, Associate Research Scholar, University of Maryland School of Public Policy
  • Anand Patwardan, Professor, University of Maryland School of Public Policy
  • Lance Pierce, Senior Program Fellow, Harvard Corporate Responsibility Initiative
  • Jiawei Song, Program Manager, Center for Global Sustainability, University of Maryland
  • Joanne Throwe, President, Throwe Environmental LLC; Senior Fellow, University of Maryland School of Public Policy
  • Sha Yu, Scientist, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; Associate Research Scholar, University of Maryland School of Public Policy

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