Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

Lydia Olander

Program Director


Lydia Olander is a program director at the Nicholas Institute for Energy Environment & Sustainability at Duke University and adjunct professor at the Nicholas School of the Environment. She works on improving evidence-based policy and accelerating implementation of climate resilience, nature-based solutions, natural capital accounting, and environmental markets. She leads the National Ecosystem Services Partnership and sits on Duke’s Climate Commitment action team. She recently spent two years with the Biden administration at the Council on Environmental Quality as Director of Nature based Resilience and before that spent five years on the Environmental Advisory Board for the US Army Corps of Engineers. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and widely published researcher. Prior to joining the Nicholas Institute, she spent a year as an AAAS Congressional Science and Technology Fellow working with Senator Joseph Lieberman on environmental and energy issues. She was a college scholar at Cornell University and earned her Master of Forest Science from Yale University and Ph.D. from Stanford University.

Lydia recommends:

David Attenborough’s A Life on Our Planet, documenting the mass extinction of Earth’s species and wild places over the course of his lifetime and shares his vision for a better future; and Recoding America, a book by Jennifer Pahlka, explains why America’s government services are so complicated and inefficient, failing to generate the benefits intended by policy makers; and why more money, more staff and AI can’t fix it. She shows what it means to do the hard work to deliver for the American people which may be central to regaining the public’s trust in our government.