WASHINGTON (June 23, 2021)—WRI’s Board of Directors has named Aniruddha (Ani) Dasgupta as its next President & CEO. Dasgupta is a highly respected leader in sustainable cities, urban design and poverty alleviation. Originally from Delhi, India, Dasgupta has been leading WRI’s Cities program for the past seven years and previously served as a Director of Knowledge and Learning at the World Bank. Ani becomes just the 4th President in WRI’s nearly 40-year history.

WRI is also pleased to share that Manish Bapna has been appointed President and CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). After 14 years as the Executive Vice President and Managing Director at WRI, Bapna has compiled a long list of achievements. He was a key architect in establishing WRI’s offices in China, India and Brazil and designing its global network. He provided oversight of WRI’s programs, centers and international offices, put a greater focus on poverty and equity, and redesigned the institute’s approach to strategy and results.

“This is a remarkable moment, not just for WRI, but for people and the planet. We are thrilled that Ani has agreed to serve as our next President and CEO, and we are happy that Manish will be assuming the leadership at NRDC— which is a “cousin” organization to WRI,” said David Blood, WRI’s Global Board Co-Chair. “This is a critical moment with the mounting climate crisis and the need to recharge and decarbonize the global economy. Over the past decade, WRI has become a truly global organization with strong partnerships, innovative projects and drawing in many top experts on our issues. Ani will bring bold ideas, excellent management skills and a commitment to equity and inclusive leadership that are ideal at this time.”

As the Global Director of the Cities program, Dasgupta leads a team of 400 experts and a budget of $33 million, helping to create more sustainable cities that improve quality of life for people and reduce inequity. He has brought an increased focus on research to the Cities program, spearheading a number of new initiatives including the World Resources Report: Towards a More Equal City, launching new platforms like the Coalition for Urban Transitions and the New Urban Mobility Alliance (NUMO), as well as the Prize for Cities that supports innovative urban projects.

“It’s a deep honor to take the helm at WRI at the beginning of this critical decade. Countries across the world are facing simultaneous crises—economic recovery, human wellbeing and the climate emergency—which together require thoughtful context-specific shifts towards a just, low-carbon future. The window to change course is narrow and we need solutions that are able to address multiple challenges. To succeed, we all need to raise our game,” said Dasgupta. “I am deeply grateful to the Board, and I know I stand on the shoulders of the leaders who came before me. I look forward to working closely with teams across our global network and with our partners in government, business and civil society to accelerate the transitions that will improve people’s lives and ensure that nature can thrive.”

“I am very excited that Ani has been selected to lead WRI. I’ve had the pleasure to work with him over the past 7 years and have seen his collaborative approach and strong commitment to delivering results on the ground to improve cities for people,” said Adriana Lobo, Executive Director of WRI México. “I am looking forward to continuing to work closely with him as we begin this new chapter for WRI.”

Prior to joining WRI, Dasgupta was a Director at the World Bank, where he developed the Bank’s first knowledge strategy. Before that, he worked extensively in Asia and Eastern Europe on urban environment, disaster management and water supply; and he spent five years in Jakarta as the Bank’s head of housing and infrastructure, including leading recovery efforts in Aceh following the 2004 tsunami.

“As head of the Cities team and across his entire career, Ani has brought a strong vision and deep understanding of how to create and scale solutions to complex challenges,” said Frances Beinecke, WRI Board Director and co-chair of the Search Committee. “That expertise, paired with his collective leadership style and focus on equity, will enable him to build on WRI’s excellent track record.”

Over the last decade, WRI has grown from largely a US-based organization to a fully global organization, with 12 offices and the majority of staff outside of the United States.

Throughout his time at WRI, Manish Bapna has played a central role in guiding WRI’s strategy. Since 2007, WRI’s revenue grew six-fold and its staff grew seven-fold. Bapna helped launch and lead several large multi-stakeholder initiatives, among them the International Research Forum on the SDGs, the NDC Partnership and the Global Commission on Adaptation. 

“I cannot say enough positive things about Manish—he is well-liked, highly respected and a strategic thinker. I have had the pleasure of working closely with him over many years, and NRDC will be fortunate to have him. We will all miss him,” said James Harmon, WRI’s Board Co-Chair. “WRI has a deep bench of experts who will carry the organization forward. As we look ahead, we will need all tools at our disposal to create positive change in the world.”

“It has been a great privilege for me to have worked with so many talented colleagues at WRI and to have achieved so much together. I am particular proud of how we have expanded our global reach and relevance, and found innovative ways to scale our impact,” said Bapna. “I’m looking forward to my next chapter at NRDC, where I can continue to pursue my life’s work of building a more fair, sustainable and vibrant world. I also want to congratulate Ani—he has been a great colleague and friend, and I know our two organizations will work even more closely together to address climate change and inequality, two of the great challenges of our time.”

Bapna will depart and Dasgupta will assume his new role on July 9, 2021. Ani succeeds WRI’s previous President and CEO Andrew Steer, who departed WRI to become the head of the Bezos Earth Fund.

“This is a critical moment for us to rise to meet great challenges and to seize opportunities to put the world on a better course,” said Sue Tierney, Vice Chair, WRI Board, and a member of the Board selection committee. "Ani is an outstanding choice to lead WRI as a change-maker and bold thinker. He will build on WRI's strengths of high-quality research, strong partnerships and an on-the-ground presence to deliver impact over this important decade.”

For more information visit www.wri.org.