Sarah Colenbrander

Head of Global Programmes, Coalition for Urban Transitions


Sarah is responsible for overseeing the global programmes of the Coalition for Urban Transitions. The Coalition is the world’s leading initiative looking at how national governments can secure economic prosperity and avert climate catastrophe by transforming cities. Each of its global programmes brings together reputable partners to produce robust, policy-relevant evidence that decision-makers can use to develop national urban strategies. Sarah oversees the design, implementation and review of these large-scale, multi-year programmes, particularly ensuring that all outputs are of a high quality and useful to national decision-makers. The research published as part of the Coalition’s global programmes has enjoyed coverage in over a hundred media outlets, and has been the focus of dedicated sessions at the Global Environment Facility, the IPCC Cities and Climate Conference and the OECD Working Party on Urban and Regional Policy.

Sarah is also responsible for the Coalition’s flagship knowledge products. Foremost among these is Climate Emergency, Urban Opportunity, which brings together three years of research and over fifty organisations behind a six-part action plan for national governments. The Urban Opportunity report was launched at the UN Climate Summit in 2019.

Before joining the Coalition, Sarah led research on cities and climate change at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and the University of Leeds. In addition to academic publications, she has authored reports for the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, UN Environment and the World Bank. She is a guest lecturer at the University of Oxford, University College London and the University of Manchester, and serves as Associate Editor for the peer-reviewed journal Environment and Urbanization. Sarah holds a Masters in Environment and Development from Trinity College, Dublin.

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