UW News

November 9, 2023

New York Climate Exchange, on which UW is a core partner, names first CEO

illustration of building on Governors Island with Manhattan in the distance

An aerial rendering of the New York Climate Exchange campus, to be built on the eastern edge of Governors Island.

The New York Climate Exchange, a first-of-its-kind organization working to implement innovative climate solutions in New York City and across the globe, on Nov. 9 announced Stephen Hammer as its founding chief executive officer.

Hammer is a global climate policy expert who has served as top climate advisor at the World Bank for the past decade. In his new role as CEO of The New York Climate Exchange, Hammer will lead a first-ever consortium of more than 45 partner organizations committed to solving the most pressing climate challenges of our time.

The University of Washington is a core member of The New York Climate Exchange, which launched in April. Several UW faculty members are already involved with the initiative, which brings together universities, governments and businesses to address climate change action and adaptation. Plans include an interactive living laboratory with 400,000 square feet of green-designed building space, incorporating research labs, classroom space, exhibits, greenhouses, mitigation technologies and housing facilities.

Maya Tolstoy, dean of the University of Washington College of the Environment and board member of The Exchange, co-chaired the CEO search committee along with Chaouki T. Abdallah, vice chair of the board of directors and executive vice president for research at the Georgia Institute of Technology

“We could not be more pleased to welcome Dr. Stephen Hammer, who embodies The Exchange’s mission,” Tolstoy and Abdallah said. “He has an international network and unrivaled New York City experience, and he’s uniquely qualified to be a ‘Convener-in-Chief’ for experts everywhere at a time when humanity needs it most.”

Eric Adams, mayor of New York, and the Trust for Governors Island selected The New York Climate Exchange — known as The Exchange — following a two-year competitive process seeking an educational and research partner to anchor a cross-sector center dedicated to developing and scaling climate solutions for New York City and beyond. The Exchange will eventually be housed in a $700 million state-of-the-art facility on Governors Island, set to open in 2028.

With experience driving climate policy in New York City and internationally, Hammer is well positioned to convene partners across sectors to advance climate solutions in New York City. Most recently, Dr. Hammer spent a decade at the World Bank as senior policy advisor on urban-scale climate solutions, global climate policy and finance issues, where he spearheaded key climate partnerships with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the UN Secretary General’s team, and the G20, and supported efforts to mainstream climate change into all facets of the World Bank’s lending operations.

Hammer previously held faculty posts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning, Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, and the Pratt Institute, where he specialized in urban energy systems and policy, often with a specific focus on New York City. He also co-founded and co-directed the Urban Climate Change Research Network, an international consortium of researchers interested in climate change from an urban perspective, and served on Mayor Bloomberg’s Energy Policy Task Force.

“Under our administration, New York City is becoming the global leader in developing solutions for climate change while creating thousands of good-paying green jobs for New Yorkers,” Adams said. “With the appointment of Dr. Hammer as the CEO of the first-in-the-nation New York Climate Exchange, our city takes one step closer to opening this hub of future innovation, bringing together our leading research and educational institutions, and creating the economic and academic opportunities New Yorkers deserve. His academic expertise and proven record of leadership in New York City and across the globe make Dr. Hammer uniquely positioned to serve as the Exchange’s first leader.”

Comprised of world-class organizations across academia, business and community, The Exchange’s partner network fosters collaboration to drive innovation and implement impactful solutions. With 14 academic and corporate organizations and over 30 community entities from environmental justice, research, and government organizations in New York City, partners have begun to work together to advance climate education, research, job training, public programs and commercialization to prepare communities to respond to climate challenges. These efforts are aided by initial investments of a combined $100 million from the Simons Foundation and Simons Foundation International, and $50 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies.

“There is truly no organization like this across the globe. Worldwide, too many sectors — the business community, nonprofits, government, academics and more — are working in silos. The Exchange is not just another institute — it’s part think tank, part do-tank — serving as a training ground for the climate leaders of tomorrow and an incubator for technology and market entrepreneurs. It’s meant to innovate and have an impact, to defend science, and to make New York City a living laboratory for international solutions. Climate change is going to reverberate across the world and every aspect of society, and working with our world-class partners, we’re going to bring people together to deliver real impact on this collective, existential challenge,” Hammer said.

Partners of The Exchange include:

      • Boston Consulting Group
      • Georgia Institute of Technology
      • Good Old Lower East Side
      • IBM
      • Pace University
      • Pratt Institute
      • Stony Brook University
      • University of Washington
      • Duke University
      • Moody’s
      • New York University
      • Rochester Institute of Technology
      • SUNY Maritime College
      • The City University of New York
      • University of Oxford


Adapted from the New York Climate Exchange press release. For more information, contact ClimateExchange@skdknick.com, or Tolstoy at coenvcom@uw.edu.