Senior Advisor, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions Professional Affiliate, Center for Urban and Environmental Solutions, Florida Atlantic University
Josh Sawislak is an internationally recognized expert on climate and disaster resilience and sustainable development. He advises governments, corporations, international organizations, and NGOs on policy, implementation, and financial issues around building sustainable and resilient infrastructure in both the developed and developing world. His expertise includes the emerging efforts around assessing and pricing climate and disaster risk in financial portfolios and corporate facility assets as well as business continuity planning and disaster risk reduction. He concurrently holds appointments as a Senior Advisor to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) and as a professional affiliate of the Center Urban and Environmental Solutions (CUES) at Florida Atlantic University.
Mr. Sawislak served in the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama as the Associate Director for Climate Preparedness at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, where he developed U.S. federal policy on climate adaptation and resilience and worked with foreign governments and international organization on multilateral and bilateral efforts. He also served as a senior advisor to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) focused on infrastructure and resilience at HUD and across government. He led the development of the infrastructure recommendations for President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force. In this role he was directly involved in the development of the Rebuild by Design competition co-sponsored by HUD and the Rockefeller Foundation and the development of the federal Infrastructure Resilience Guidelines. In a previous federal role, Mr. Sawislak supported the development and execution of the National Continuity Policy (NSPD-51/HSPD-20), the National Response Framework (NRF), and the National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF).
After leaving the White House in 2015, Mr. Sawislak served as the global director of resilience for the infrastructure services firm AECOM. In this role, he worked across the entire enterprise of AECOM’s offerings in planning, design, construction, finance, operations, and development to help create and leverage resilient strategies to address issues such as sustainability, climate change, disaster preparedness, and enterprise risk management. He provided thought leadership and strategic advice to AECOM clients in 150+ countries on issues related to the implementation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction, and the UNFCCC Paris Agreement.
He served as a speaker at the first US-China Climate Leaders’ Summit in preparation for the global climate negotiations in Paris in 2015 (COP 21) and led a delegation to Paris and to COP 23 in Bonn, speaking at multiple for a at both events. He also spoke at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in 2016 and 2018, the UN Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction, and gave lectures and participated in other symposia in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Oceania. He continues to serve as a subject matter expert for the Rockefeller Foundation on infrastructure, community resilience, sustainable development and served as a member of the executive committee task force of the Transportation Research Board on resilience and sustainability.
Mr. Sawislak is an environmental and transportation planner and a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners and earned a degree in political science from The George Washington University and a certificate in infrastructure development from the Harvard Kennedy School. He serves on the boards of directors for the National Institute of Coastal and Harbor Infrastructure and evacuteer.org and is an advisor to several other organizations and programs in support of resilience and sustainability.