Maria Athena Ronquillo-Ballesteros is a Director at WRI’s Sustainable Finance Program, which works to improve the environmental and social decision making and performance of public and private financial institutions. Athena has over fifteen years of leadership and management experience in environment, development and natural resource governance in developing countries, with a particular focus on climate change, clean energy and sustainable finance. She is a long-time policy advisor to the Philippine government’s official climate change negotiating team at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and has assisted various Philippine ministries on climate, energy and finance issues at key international sessions such as the Asia Pacific Summit for Economic Cooperation (APEC); ASEAN and World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). She has published widely on the issue of climate change, climate finance, clean energy, governance and human rights.
Athena also holds strategic and leadership positions and serves on the board of several non-profit organizations both in the US and in the Philippines/Asia including Bank Information Center (BIC), Sunfunder, International Rivers and Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities. Having co-founded the Asian NGO Forum on the ADB, Athena has been engaged with empowering communities and local organizations in their work to strengthen the environmental and social standards and safeguards of international financial institutions, including those in emerging economies. She was founder and is currently Board Chair of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC) based in the Philippines –the organization that is the proponent of the electric jeepneys project. The ICSC, a not for profit organization based in Manila, is at the helm of promoting low-carbon development with an emphasis on sustainable transport for cities and municipalities in the Asian region. Her initiative on climate-friendly cities has been awarded two distinguished citations from Discovery Channel’s Ecopolis series (2008) and from the Philippine National Commission on Culture and the Arts’ (NCCA’s) Fr Neri Satur Award for Environmental Heroism (April 2009).
Prior to joining WRI, she was head of Greenpeace International’s climate and energy program in Asia Pacific, and led the development and expansion of climate policy and sustainable energy work in China, India, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Japan. She gained much of her professional experience in the field of environmental and development management through her work at various organizations including Friends of the Earth/Legal Rights Center in the Philippines; Greenpeace International, Greenpeace Southeast Asia (SEA); Climate Action Network-SEA and the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC).
Athena holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communications with post -graduate studies on Development Planning from the University of the Philippines and a post graduate certificate on Development Management from the Asian Institute of Management. She has received several technical and policy trainings on energy policy and planning focused on integrated resource planning and demand-side management.