Dr. Kanta Kumari Rigaud is a Lead Environmental Specialist at the World Bank with more than 25 years of professional experience in natural resources management, environmental management, and climate change adaptation. She joined the World Bank in 2004 and has worked in the Middle East North Africa Region, the Climate Change Group, and is currently working in the Africa Region as the Regional Climate Change Coordinator. In her current role, she led the development of the Next Generation Africa Climate Business Plan and continues to support the rollout and implementation of the plan and associate knowledge work working with team across the institution. She also works directly in Uganda and Kenya, including on their National Determined Contributions.
Kanta has led numerous analytics and knowledge-based flagship reports at the World Bank. As the lead author of the flagship report Groundswell - Preparing for Internal Climate Migration, she worked with a multidisciplinary team from leading research institutions to provide insights on the plausible scale of climate induced migration. She has continued to lead on the deep divers of climate induced migration in West Africa and Lake Victoria Basin countries – with a view to inform policy dialogue and action on these fronts. She also co-led the World Bank's engagement with the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research to develop the Turn Down the Heat flagship report series, which focuses on the nexus of climate science and development. Kanta subsequently led in the development of the Bank’s first Massive Open Online Course: From Climate Science to Action to promote widescale learning based on the findings of the turn down the heat series.
Kanta’s professional work has also focused on advancing climate policy and action at the practitioner level. On this front, she led the development of the World Bank's climate and disaster risk screening tools to inform project design and national/sectoral plans and strategies as a contribution to climate mainstreaming across the institution. Recognizing the critical importance of climate informed decision support, she went on to develop an online learning platform on weather and climate services resilient development for policy makers and practitioners on why and how to develop of high quality climate information products and services. As the World Bank team lead on the Africa Climate Resilient Investment Facility, a partnership with the African Union and United Nation’s Economic Commission for Africa she led the development of the Resilience Booster Tool, which seeks to strengthen the integration of climate risks and opportunities into the design and delivery of investments by enhancing the capacity of people, assets, institutions and infrastructure.
As the Bank’s focal point for the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR), one of the programs of the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), for more than six years, Kanta provided strategic advice to multiple country programs for climate resilience in more than 25 countries spanning Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and fostered policy dialogue, shared learning and knowledge exchange through communities of practice to advance the climate resilience agenda. She went on to distill key PPCR Lessons for wider dissemination and uptake by other country programs.
Prior to the Africa Region, Kanta worked at the Middle East and North Africa Region of the Bank where she spearheaded and managed adaptation and conservation initiatives involving agricultural and rural landscapes in Yemen, Jordan, Tunisia, and Morocco and helped countries mobilize climate financing. From 1997-2004, she was a program manager for the biodiversity focal area at the Global Environment Facility (GEF), managed the GEF Small Grants Program as part of the GEF Secretariat and supported policy work, and monitoring and evaluation.
Kanta is the co-chair of the Technical Working Group on Environmental Change and Migration in KNOMAD; and sits on the External Expert Advisory Board (EEAB) to the HABITABLE project – Linking Climate Change, Habitability and Social Tipping Points: Scenarios for Climate Migration; and a member of the IUCN task force and Working group on Nature-Based Solutions at the Nexus of Environmental Change, Conflict, and Migration. She has served as panelist and speaker in several fora with leading institutions, universities and agencies on climate change, climate adaptation and climate migration.
Kanta holds a Ph. D. from the University of East Anglia and was the recipient of the British Chevening Scholarship and the World Bank Graduate Scholarship award for her doctoral dissertation. She has a Master of Science in Behavioral Ecology from the University of Stirling, UK; a First-Class Bachelor of Science honors degree in Ecology; and a Diploma in Education from the University of Malaya. She has authored several publications and reports on natural resources, environmental and climate issues.