Mark Benedetti, CDP North America

Thanks to the CIERP Internship Grant, I was able to spend ten weeks this summer as the Sustainable Infrastructure Fellow with the environmental disclosure nonprofit, CDP. During this time, I performed outreach with cities across North America to encourage them to submit sustainable infrastructure projects to CDP’s Matchmaker program. Matchmaker is a new program at CDP that connects cities that have sustainable infrastructure projects which are underfunded to private investors through an online dashboard. The goal is to encourage “green” investment while also accelerating a carbon neutral future.

During my time at CDP, I was able to help shape the future of the Matchmaker program through a report I had researched and wrote for the organization. This report looked at how the program intake form could provide more data to inform investors the social equitable impact of a project. This project was extremely rewarding for me, as it offered me not only the opportunity to work on something that I am passionate about but also made me feel very much a part of the organization as I was able to make a difference with my presence there.

I was also lucky enough to help prepare the Matchmaker team for, and attend, two workshops, one in Cleveland and one in Chicago. At these events officials from cities were able to meet with investors to discuss the challenges and opportunities in the municipal sustainable infrastructure space. In Cleveland, there was a panel discussing social equitable investing, but in the context of community involvement in development. The main message was that by involving community groups, vulnerable people in the community won’t be taken advantage of or forgotten about by a project. In Chicago, which was only a half-day workshop, the laid-back atmosphere allowed for investors and city officials to easily discuss their concerns and ideas for sustainable infrastructure investing. Being able to be present at both of these workshops allowed me to be more involved with the team at CDP, as well as finally get to meet some of the officials I had been emailing and chatting with over the phone.

The chance to be part of CDP for the summer has been an amazing experience. I’ve

learned so much about sustainability, municipal finance, and community development. It was great to be able to communicate and listen to these cities, learning about their different perspectives on sustainability priorities and the difficulties of city finance. Through my experiences over the ten weeks, I learned about new career possibilities that I had not previously considered, such as community development, municipal sustainability, and green infrastructure investment. I was very happy to have had this opportunity this summer.