Sarah Colenbrander

Coalition for Urban Transitions, University of Leeds

Sarah's work focuses on the nexus of urban development, climate change and sustainable finance. She currently leads the global research programme for the Coalition for Urban Transitions, a fast-growing initiative to support national governments to address pressing economic, inequality and climate challenges by making their cities liveable and sustainable. Sarah works with an array of different partners to produce robust, policy-relevant evidence tailored for national governments.

Before joining the Coalition, Sarah was a Senior Researcher at the International Institute for Environment and Development and a Research Fellow at the University of Leeds. In addition to academic publications, she has contributed to reports commissioned by the World Bank, the New Climate Economy, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and UN Environment. 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.


  • 2018–present
    Head of Global Programmes, Coalition for Urban Transitions, World Resources Institute
  • 2014–present
    Associate, ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy
  • 2015–2018
    Senior Researcher, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)
  • 2012–2015
    Research Fellow, University of Leeds


  • 2012 
    Trinity College Dublin, MSc (Environment and Development) - First
  • 2009 
    University of Sydney, BSc (Ecology) - Distinction
  • 2009 
    University of Sydney, BCom (Economics, Political Economy) - Distinction