Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

Sustainable Infrastructure: A Duke Climate Collaboration Symposium

Date and Time
Wednesday, March 20, 2024 - 9 a.m. to Friday, March 22 - 3:30 p.m. ET
Ahmadieh Family Auditorium (Gross 107)
Philip Hollingsworth
Sustainable Infrastructure: A Duke Climate Collaboration Symposium


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The second installment in the Duke Climate Collaboration Symposia series will include a March 20 panel discussion at Duke in DC in Washington, DC (also available via livestream) and a March 21 panel discussion and March 22 workshop at Duke University in Durham, NC.

Wednesday, March 20, 9 - 10:30 a.m. ET

Duke in DC (Washington, DC) and livestreamed

Panel discussion: “What is Sustainable Infrastructure? Building Consensus to Accelerate Financing

Experts will identify common ground among global initiatives aimed at assessing the sustainability of infrastructure, highlighting opportunities for collaboration. Advance registration is required for in-person attendance and for livestreaming. Learn more about the agenda and speakers and register. For in-person attendees, continental breakfast begins at 8:15 a.m. ET and a post-panel networking reception will take place from 10:30 - 11 a.m. ET. 

View Recording

Thursday, March 21, 5 - 6:30 p.m., followed by reception

Duke University (Durham, NC), Ahmadieh Family Auditorium (Gross Hall 107)

Panel Discussion: “Ensuring that the Infrastructure We Build Today Creates the World We Want Tomorrow”

The United States is making its largest infrastructure investment in a generation through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, building out energy, transportation, telecommunication, and water sanitation systems across the country. Meanwhile, internationally the G7 nations have pledged $600 billion in public and private infrastructure investments to address the global infrastructure gap in emerging markets and developing economies.

This massive infrastructure build-out could play a significant role in advancing global decarbonization, climate adaptation, and sustainable development—or in keeping the world on a business-as-usual trajectory. What will it take to direct these investments toward sustainable, resilient infrastructure?

A public panel discussion (5-6:30 p.m., followed by an hourlong reception) will address opportunities and key barriers to advancing climate-resilient, sustainable infrastructure development in the U.S. and abroad. Leaders from the private sector, public sector, non-governmental organizations, and academia will explore bottlenecks to the adoption of sustainable, resilient infrastructure and identify solutions to address these obstacles.

Jerome Lynch, Vinik Dean of Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering, will moderate the panel, which will include insights from experts Motoko Aizawa (Independent Consultant), Anita van Breda (World Wildlife Fund), Todd Bridges (University of Georgia), Roni Deitz (Arcadis), and Rowan Palmer (United Nations Environment Programme). 

Advance registration is required.

Friday, March 22, 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. 

Duke University (Durham, NC), Gross Hall 100A, 100B, 100C

Workshop (lunch included)  

Duke faculty and research staff and invited partners will take part in a one-day workshop focused on the Infrastructure Sustainability Learning (ISLe) Initiative, a peer learning approach for building local capacity in sustainable infrastructure. 

The ISLe Initiative brings together infrastructure practitioners and experts in virtual learning networks to share information and problem-solve using the case-based learning approach developed by Project ECHO. Within an ISLe network, participants explore issues related to their own infrastructure projects in collaboration with other practitioners and sustainable infrastructure experts. This model has already been successfully piloted by Duke, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the International Coalition for Sustainable Infrastructure (ICSI).

The workshop will gather experts to design and develop several ISLe networks focused on these themes: 

  1. disaster resilience and recovery,
  2. sustainable transportation, 
  3. nature-positive infrastructure solutions, and 
  4. climate and sustainability engineering curricula.

All Duke faculty and research staff are welcome to attend; advance registration is required.

About the Organizers and Event Series

This symposium is organized by Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability and Pratt School of Engineering in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme, International Coalition for Sustainable Infrastructure, and World Wildlife Fund.

The three-day symposium is the second of the Duke Climate Collaboration Symposia, a series of convenings designed to accelerate climate solutions by developing new collaborations among Duke scholars and external partners. Each symposium focuses on identifying opportunities for Duke University to make the most of its interdisciplinary expertise and convening power for meaningful impact on climate challenges. The series is funded by a gift from The Duke Endowment in support of the Duke Climate Commitment, which unites the university’s education, research, operations, and public service missions to address the climate crisis.

Additional support for the ISLe Initiative is provided by the Schmidt Initiative for Long Covid.


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Motoko AizawaMotoko Aizawa is an author and researcher on the sustainability challenges of infrastructure development, investment and finance. Motoko spent more than two decades at the World Bank Group in various capacities, including as sustainability advisor at the World Bank. She is the principal author of the IFC Performance Standards and led the creation and implementation of the Equator Principles. Motoko began her career as a business lawyer, specializing in due diligence in mergers and acquisitions at Baker & McKenzie, and project financing of infrastructure projects at IFC’s Legal Department. She currently consults on the human dimensions of infrastructure and serves as the Chair of the District of Columbia’s Commission on Human Rights.


Anita van Breda


Anita van Breda is senior director of environment and disaster management at World Wildlife Fund-US and has over 20 years' experience in conservation and disaster management. In her current role she leads WWF's work supporting environmentally responsible disaster recovery, reconstruction and risk reduction including international policy, operations and training. Anita was instrumental in WWF's development of the Green Recovery and Reconstruction Training Toolkit (GRRT). Anita is co-lead of the UN Emergency Shelter Cluster Environment Community of Practice.



Todd BridgesTodd Bridges is a professor of practice in resilient and sustainable systems in the College of Engineering at the University of Georgia. Prior to joining UGA in 2023, Bridges served for 17 years as the U.S. Army’s Senior Research Scientist (ST) for Environmental Science, one of 40 Senior Research Scientists in the Department of the Army. Over his 30-year career with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Todd led more than $250 million in research projects and programs in environmental science and engineering and sustainable infrastructure. Bridges founded the Corps’ Engineering with Nature® program in 2010, which includes a broad range of research, field-scale applications, multi-sector collaborations, and communication efforts to advance the development and application of nature-based solutions.


Roni DeitzRoni Deitz is the global director of climate adaptation at Arcadis. Roni's technical experience is shaped by a wide variety of water management challenges, including coastal planning, restoration and risk mitigation, riverine and urban flooding, urban resiliency, economic assessments, and the integration of climate change considerations into planning. With a track record of managing and delivering large-scale resiliency projects for cities like New York, Roni excels in fostering consensus among diverse stakeholders and bridging engineering and planning disciplines through effective communication.



Jerome Lynch

Jerome Lynch is the Vinik Dean of Engineering and Fitzpatrick Family University Distinguished Professor of Engineering at Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering. Prior to joining Duke in 2022, he was a tenured faculty member in the department of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Michigan, including serving as the department chair of civil and environmental engineering. Lynch's research interests are in advancing cyber-physical system architectures that combine sensing, computing, and controls to create intelligent infrastructure systems. He is best known for his research portfolio in structural health monitoring.


Rowan Palmer

Rowan Palmer is a programme management officer at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)’s Resources and Markets Branch in Geneva, where he leads the Sustainable Infrastructure Partnership and coordinates UNEP’s implementation of UNEA Resolution 4/5 on sustainable infrastructure. Prior to joining UNEP, Rowan worked as an environmental manager for large-scale transportation infrastructure projects in his home province of British Columbia, Canada.