Options Magazine, Winter 2023: As a Climate Change Specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), IIASA Young Scientists Summer Program (YSSP) alumna, Esperanza González Mahecha, is supporting countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to include climate change considerations in all aspects of planning, from infrastructure works and financing schemes, to policies that foster sustainable and inclusive development to improve lives.

Options 2023 © Inter-American Development Bank

“I am glad to have the opportunity to work with governments using my scientific background to help them advance the agenda to fight climate change,” she notes. González Mahecha supports initiatives like IDB CLIMA, which is a first-of-its-kind among multilateral banks to offer a financing tool that rewards investments that create the capacities and systems required to access higher concessional financing and mobilize financial flows at scale. This innovative pilot program aims to test a results-based approach for improving biodiversity and climate policy, providing the borrower country with a discount when the nature and climate objectives of selected projects are met.

When remembering her time at IIASA, she says: “The YSSP was an unforgettable experience. I am so grateful to have participated and for the friends I made along the way. I learned so much from my peers and the terrific scientific community. Meeting and sharing thoughts with many people worldwide working on energy and climate change challenges was inspiring. I learned that collaboration and transdisciplinarity are relevant to addressing humanity’s problems.”

According to González Mahecha, her YSSP experience also reinforced her vision that climate change is not just an environmental problem, but also a social and economic one. She feels that the knowledge acquired during the program has been invaluable for the different roles she has filled since in the fields of energy, climate change, and biodiversity.

By Monika Bauer