Skip navigation

Johns Hopkins SAIS students launch final report with AECOM on cities and resilient infrastructure


Recent graduates and students of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), in collaboration with AECOM, released a study examining the barriers to investing in climate resilient infrastructure, quantifying the benefits of resilient strategies and recommending policies to accelerate investment.

“Cities as Innovation Centers: Investing in Resilient Infrastructure” finds that alignment of incentives among stakeholders is key to unlocking trillions in public and private finance for resilience and emphasizes the role of cities in pioneering innovative solutions. To mobilize capital at the scale required, the benefits of resilience need to be captured and clearly communicated, one of many challenges the report focuses on.

“The SAIS team focused in on the critical issue in urban coastal resilience — who benefits and who can pay for the improved infrastructure. We all agree there is a problem, but the challenge is identifying how to pay for the needed improvements,” said Josh Sawislak, former Global Director of Resilience at AECOM and Senior Advisor to C2ES. “Defining and calculating benefit is the best approach to showing the different stakeholders what they have to gain, not just what risks they face.”

“Now, more than ever, there is a heightened need for companies to collaborate with governments, academia and other sectors to seek solutions that answer the growing challenges faced by cities. By uniting to overcome the complex challenges they face, we will build prosperity and improve quality of life for everyone,” says Darcy Immerman, Senior Vice President, Resiliency, at AECOM.

The report is part of the school's Practicum in the Energy, Resources and Environment Program. Members consist of June Choi, Yan Fan, Danny Jeon, and Jingwei Jia, advised by Celeste Connors, Associate Practitioner in Residence in the Energy, Resources and Environment program and former White House Director for Climate and Environment. The Practicum team presented its initial findings and hosted a panel discussion at the school as part of the Dean’s Forum earlier this year.

"The ERE Practicum project with AECOM demonstrates the importance of student collaborations with the private sector to engage in global challenges of the 21st century," said Vali Nasr, dean of Johns Hopkins SAIS. "It is critical for emerging thought leaders to get involved in topics such as climate change and resilience early on, to develop and implement solutions that are urgently needed."

“Against the backdrop of the latest IPCC report, the students highlight the challenge at hand and show that building climate resilience is a collective responsibility,” said Connors. “We’ll need new and innovative public private partnerships to integrate resilience and green infrastructure into policies and planning in order to mitigate the impacts of climate change and drive tangible progress, particularly in the most marginalized communities.”

The executive summary is available for download: Executive Summary

The full report is available here: Cities as Innovation Centers: Investing in Resilient Infrastructure

Media Contacts
Nate Thompson
Johns Hopkins SAIS
202.587.3251 office
202.360.3039 mobile
[email protected]

Jason Marshall
Senior Director, Public Relations
[email protected]

Celeste Connors
Practitioner in Residence
Energy, Resources and Environment Program
[email protected]

About Johns Hopkins SAIS
A division of Johns Hopkins University, the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) is a global institution that offers students an international perspective on today’s critical issues. For nearly 75 years, Johns Hopkins SAIS has produced great leaders, thinkers, and practitioners of international relations. Public leaders and private sector executives alike seek the counsel of the faculty, whose ideas and research inform and shape policy. Johns Hopkins SAIS offers a global perspective across three campus locations: Bologna, Italy; Nanjing, China; and Washington, D.C. The school’s interdisciplinary curriculum is strongly rooted in the study of international economics, international relations, and regional studies, preparing students to address multifaceted challenges in the world today.

For more information, visit or @SAISHopkins


Friday, November 2, 2018
Press Release Type: