High-Powered Partnership for Transformation
While the incoming class traveled to The Fletcher School’s campus for orientation last month, another group of leaders also found themselves in the classroom. From August 27 to September 1, a cohort of executives from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), one of the leading financial institutions working to promote prosperity and eradicate poverty in Asia and the Pacific, gathered to develop a new strategic approach to tackling climate change in the region, hosted by Fletcher Executive Education.
Last year, ADB partnered with Fletcher Executive Education to support the bank in its mission to confront the climate crisis. Committed to serving as the climate bank of Asia and the Pacific, ADB engaged Fletcher Executive Education to build the Envision Program, a bespoke program to help executives examine the impact of climate change in Asia and the Pacific and take on a leading role among development institutions in confronting the climate crisis.
The Envision Program includes an online course and in-person immersion at Fletcher, providing cutting edge tools and knowledge of the global landscape of climate finance, low-carbon economic development strategies, policy-based and private sector approaches, and critical leadership training to support executives in advancing a challenging vision. Envision is being offered to two cohorts of executives comprising the top 100 leaders of ADB.
The cohort that traveled to Fletcher’s campus last month was comprised of the high-level executives who will be shepherding the organization through its new strategic vision. Attendees hailed from all over the world, bringing together different backgrounds and skillsets to rethink how ADB can fund climate action at scale and facilitate a climate transition in its member countries. Excitement was palpable at the cohort’s welcome dinner Sunday evening, as people from Fletcher and ADB connected with enthusiasm, energy, and curiosity about the problems they were prepared to investigate together.
After a full week of connection and conversation, Interim Dean Kelly Sims Gallagher reflected upon the significance of this new partnership.
“Asia and the Pacific is a region of profound importance in the world where increasingly more economic activity exists, geopolitical tensions are affecting regional politics, and the development imperative remains stark with an additional 80 million people in developing Asia pushed into extreme poverty due to the COVID crisis,” said Gallagher. “Some countries in the region are highly vulnerable to climate change, and yet some countries in the region have become the world’s top greenhouse gas emitters.”
“We are honored to partner with the Asian Development Bank to tackle these complex challenges through this executive program.”
Working Together on Transformation
The Envision curriculum is designed to equip executives to lead teams through a major transformation, engage stakeholder groups effectively, facilitate economy-wide climate transition in an impactful and enduring way, utilize technical and policy knowledge of climate throughout all aspects of conducting business, engage the private sector to build markets, and develop new solutions that can transform Asia and the Pacific for the long-term future.
“We have been investing in leadership development for several years, but not enough in the skills that are now needed,” said Yan Jiang, senior adviser in the Office of ADB’s President. “Our leadership recognizes that we need to make a major investment, and we need the help of learning institutions to work with us on this transformation.”
ADB is a large organization that is going through a major cultural and strategic change. In his session, “Leading Transformational Changes,” Associate Dean for Curriculum Alnoor Ebrahim engaged executives in a discussion of cultural transformation by looking at the case study of a Japanese technology conglomerate. Executives then brainstormed new ways to conduct performance assessment and decision-making at ADB.
The schedule also connected delegates with internationally renowned speakers to learn about the cutting edge of knowledge in climate finance. The cohort spoke with Rachel Kyte, Dean Emerita of The Fletcher School, Gina McCarthy, who served as President Biden’s National Climate Advisor, Mark Carney, UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance and Co-Chair for the Glasgow Finance Alliance for Net Zero, and Lawrence H. Summers, President Emeritus of Harvard and former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, among others. Executives also met with Stacy Swann, CEO of Climate Finance Advisors, LLC, and Kathy Baughman McLeod, Executive of the Climate Resilience Project and Senior VP of the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center.
A Partnership with Profound Implications
The cohort worked in teams to examine the grand challenges of the climate transition and to brainstorm cross-cutting solutions that could transform how ADB operates. They collaborated closely with the ADB climate team and learning team while Fletcher Executive Education created a day-by-day project roadmap to guide teams from idea to strategy. Participants integrated their prior experience to discuss solutions to the future finance, nature, markets, resilience, energy, and strategy.
The immersion program helped delegates pressure-test their ideas by engaging with the innovative work taking place in Boston. The executives met with Kelsey Read, Senior Program Manager at the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to discuss the finance of expanding access clean energy for consumers in Massachusetts. During a visit to The Engine, an initiative born at MIT “to help bridge the gap between discovery and commercialization for the most promising teams and breakthrough inventions,” the cohort heard from Michael Kearney, partner, and Monique Guimond, chief of staff, about the organization’s work. A lecture and tour at The Tufts SilkLab provided the group with insight on the nature-based solutions research lab, which creates a wide range of materials using silk.
“It’s very important for senior executives to get outside of our work environment and come together to discuss something that’s common to everyone, which is the future of the next generation,” said Woochong Um, Managing Director General of the ADB. “The program was able to paint a realistic picture of what’s going on in the world. It gives us a sense of optimism because it’s not too late, and we can do something about climate change. With a multilateral development bank like ADB, working with academic institutions and think tanks, I think it’s crucial that we do this and continue to learn in the future.”
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