Alyssa Fischer is a consultant with the Cities Unit of UN Environment, where she is researching neighbourhood-level sustainability transformations in cities around the world. She is exploring how cities can empower communities to create transformative change to reduce their environmental impacts, improve quality of life and resilience, and support equitable development.
Before joining the United Nations, Alyssa led international policy advocacy campaigns and in-kind partnerships for the World Resources Institute’s WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, where her work on the Habitat III negotiations was selected as the Institute’s #2 most influential project of 2017. She has also worked in the private sector as a corporate sustainability consultant with ERM and as a policy and program manager for a traffic safety technology startup, Brisk Synergies.
Alyssa holds degrees from Bryn Mawr College, Villanova University, and The George Washington University in Growth and Structure of Cities, Sustainable Engineering, and Non-profit Management.
MOTIVATION FOR AND COMMITMENT TO CREATING A BETTER AND MORE SUSTAINABLE PLANET
I believe that there is no more important issue facing our global community than climate change. It is an urgent challenge that must be tackled, and that can be most efficiently and effectively done in cities. However, the questions of equity, access, and power in sustainable development are too often overlooked. We need to see projects that are more integrated across sectors, more innovative, and that connect better with the communities they’re intended to serve. I am passionate about integrated sustainable solutions that aggressively target the climate and the resilience challenges our cities are facing while protecting and improving equity and quality of life for cities’ most vulnerable residents.
My research looks at how municipal and national governments can create enabling environments through policy, funding, and participatory planning that put power in the hands of communities to make their voices and concerns heard, and then co-create the solutions that work best for their unique challenges. This research will be published in a guidance report that looks at examples of such experiments from cities around the world to understand what works and what doesn’t. My goal is to inspire communities to create their own change and to give cities the tools they need to help their neighbourhoods develop innovative solutions. The battle for sustainable development will be won or lost in cities, and neighborhood communities are on the front lines.