New FIU program aimed at making a more resilient Florida

Florida’s efforts to bounce back from disaster could get a boost with the launch of a new interdisciplinary program at Florida International University’s Institute of Environment.


The institute’s new Environmental Finance and Risk Management program is focused on increasing resilience against the major environmental challenges identified in the state’s mitigation action plan: coastal erosion, ecosystem degradation, flooding, heat, sea-level rise, wildfire and windstorm.


“Just as Florida is both uniquely blessed and uniquely challenged in its natural environment, FIU is uniquely positioned to be a global leader in environmental resilience,” said Mario Loyola, director of the institute’s Environmental Finance and Risk Management program. “The Environmental Finance and Risk Management program will combine the resources of our great university to come up with innovative solutions to global and local environmental problems, from mitigation and resilience to recovery, restoration and long-term sustainability.”


The program is a collaboration with the FIU College of Arts, Sciences & Education, the UNESCO Chair on Sustainable Water Security, Extreme Events Institute, College of Engineering & Computing, College of Law, College of Business, Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work and the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs.


Many are inadequately prepared for global environmental challenges because resiliency efforts are still in their nascent stages. Professionals who are cross -trained in finance and environmental studies will have a much better chance at drafting effective policies on mitigation, adaptation and resilience, Loyola said.


The program also will serve as a large-scale hub delivering first-of-its-kind knowledge and know-how devoted to innovative financial modeling, environmental law and the regulatory frameworks and methods for disaster preparedness, risk transfer, mitigation, adaptation and resilience. A broad range of stakeholders will collaborate with the program to address these pressing issues and expose students to organizations and agencies on the front lines of environmental protection.


“Environmental finance and risk management is especially relevant in Florida, where local and state officials frequently face difficult decisions on how to fund future hazard mitigation and resilience projects,” said mathematics professor Enrique Villamor, the program’s associate director.


Loyola and Villamor also will design and launch new master’s and doctoral degrees in environmental finance and risk management in addition to a certificate program for business and government professionals. In addition, Loyola also will teach courses in environmental law and policy at the College of Law and will assist with its Certificate in Environmental & Natural Resources Law.


They will be assisted by Jayantha Obeysekera, director of Sea Level Solutions, Tiffany Troxler, director of science for Sea Level Solutions and fellow Institute of Environment faculty Maria Donoso and Michael Sukop. Advisory groups made up of members of the academic, business and government sectors also will weigh in on the curriculum.

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