NRDC Appoints Manish Bapna as President and CEO

Bapna Previously Served as Interim President and CEO of the World Resources Institute

NEW YORK – The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) today announced that it has appointed Manish Bapna as President and Chief Executive Officer, effective August 23rd. Bapna currently serves as Interim President and CEO of the World Resources Institute (WRI).

“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to overcome the climate crisis and build a healthier, more equitable and more vibrant world. NRDC is uniquely suited for this challenge, and I am deeply honored to be taking the helm at this time,” said Bapna. “NRDC is an indispensable organization and has the scientific, legal and policy expertise to activate and scale the innovative solutions we need. NRDC knows how to build diverse and lasting partnerships and harness the power of people to win this urgent fight at this critical moment. I am confident that together we can make that a reality."

During his 25-year career, Manish’s leadership roles have focused on designing sustainable development strategies that are equitable, durable and scalable. His proven track record in developing policies and programs to address the twin challenges of climate change and inequity will help NRDC achieve ambitious climate action.

Bapna has worked at WRI, a leading global research organization focused on the environment and development, since 2007, where he helped lead the global expansion of staff and divisions from 250 to over 1,400 across offices in the U.S., China, India, Brazil, and more. During a period of unprecedented growth at WRI, he oversaw the organization’s program work on climate change, energy, cities, food, forests, oceans and water, while helping transform the organization’s scale, reach and impact. Manish was a lead architect of several influential multi-stakeholder coalitions such as the Global Commission on Adaptation, NDC Partnership and US-China and US-India Track 2 Dialogues on Energy and Climate. He played a key role in increasing WRI’s budget to $180 million—a six-fold increase over 14 years. He also expanded diversity and inclusion within the organization, and led efforts to embed equity into WRI’s mission, culture and programs, leading a diverse taskforce to ensure implementation.

“Manish brings a deep and compassionate understanding of the challenges we must confront, the management skills we can count on to prevail, and the vision we need to bring about transformational change,” said Kathleen A. Welch, Chair of NRDC’s Board of Trustees. "He has a proven track record of bringing teams and stakeholders together to scale action, making him uniquely prepared to lead NRDC in this window of opportunity to create a more inclusive, clean and resilient economy. NRDC’s Board of Trustees and staff are delighted to welcome Manish Bapna as President and CEO of NRDC.”

Mitch Bernard, who has served as Interim President and CEO and Chief Counsel, will remain in his role until Bapna’s arrival and support him through a smooth leadership transition.

“Manish’s passion, vision and leadership, along with his experience in both the U.S. and international policy arenas, will be critical to strengthening NRDC’s impact in this next phase of climate activism,” said Mitch Bernard, Interim President and CEO and Chief Counsel of NRDC. “He will accelerate our work to protect people’s health, advance climate justice, revive our economy and put people to work, all while safeguarding critical wildlife and wild places.”

From 2003 to 2007, Bapna was Executive Director of the Bank Information Center, a non-profit advocacy organization that aims to protect local communities and the environment from the negative impacts of projects financed by multilateral development banks. From 1996 to 2003, Bapna worked at the World Bank where he led projects aimed at tackling rural poverty through the protection and sustainable use of water, forests and other natural resources. Before that, he worked as a strategy consultant at McKinsey & Company and began his career at Oliver, Wyman & Company. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and both a Master of Public Administration and a Master of Business Administration with distinction from Harvard University.

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.