Katherine Sierra

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Nonresident Senior Fellow, Global Economy and Development

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Katherine Sierra is a nonresident senior fellow in Global Economy and Development at Brookings who focuses on climate change, with a particular emphasis on the issues and policies in the developing world. Ms. Sierra has more than 30 years experience as a development professional, previously serving as a senior executive at the World Bank.

Sierra’s research covers the international climate change architecture, with a specific focus on the effectiveness of climate finance. Recent policy papers focus on Green Climate Fund and the ways that international climate finance can catalyze private investment for low emission and climate resilient development. She also focuses on sustainable infrastructure and green growth, contributing to G-20 discussions on infrastructure in Africa and on opportunities after the Arab spring.

As vice president for sustainable development, Sierra oversaw the Bank’s global environment, infrastructure and agricultural activities and led its climate change strategy—including creation of the $6.5 billion Climate Investment Funds. These funds leverage the private sector in the deployment of new technologies and support changes in public investment profiles to support green development. Sierra broadened the Bank’s climate change strategy to tackle adaptation and focus on agriculture, water, eco-system and urban sectors and the impact on the least developed countries. She was the Bank’s spokesperson on climate change, and represented it at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change high level meetings and at the G-8 and G-20 on climate and environment issues. She is a frequent speaker on the issues surrounding development and climate change.

As vice president, Sierra oversaw the World Development Reports on Climate Change (2010), Economic Geography (2009), and Agriculture (2008). She was chair of the Consultative Group for International Agriculture Research, and led the major reform of that institution which was approved in 2009. She has served in various executive roles throughout the World Bank, including vice president for infrastructure and for human resources.

Ms. Sierra has considerable country experience in East Asia, including managing the urban and environment program for China, and in Latin America, focusing in particular on infrastructure. Sierra is a member of the National Research Council, Policy and Global Affairs Division Oversight Committee, and also serves on private sector advisory councils for the Ingersoll Rand Center for Energy Efficiency and Sustainability and for the AECOM Environment business. She has Bachelor of Arts degrees in anthropology and Hispanic civilization from the University of California at Santa Barbara (1976); a master’s degree in city and regional planning from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design (1978), and graduated from the Harvard Business School’s General Managers Program in 1998.