Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

Lydia Olander

Director, Ecosystem Services Program


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 The Social Dilemma which dives into the originally unintended consequences of making the internet profitable that are now the fundamental structure of the internet economy and all of the social media products we use. Probably the most damaging of these unintended consequences has been intensifying deep social divides, undermining what little common truth we held as citizens that could help us build consensus and solve problems.