Our people

The Climate Planning team has a diverse array of experience and expertise in providing climate change adaptation services.  We thrive on collaboration and  recognise that managing the effects of climate change requires a systems approach.

Donovan Burton- Climate Adaptation Specialist


Donovan Burton heads the Climate Planning team and is a leading climate change adaptation planner.  Overall Donovan has worked on over 140 climate change risk and adaptation projects for insurers, governments, corporations, developers and UN agencies .  Drawing on over a decade of applied adaptation experience Donovan has created a suite of adaptation governance tools to support informed-decision making. 

Donovan specialises in helping cities and businesses consider effects and opportunities presented by a confluence of climate change and oil vulnerability.  He is also a recognised specialist in understanding insurance and other risk transfer mechanisms, with a particular interest in catastrophe bonds. Donovan was the founder of the Informed.City tool which has been used to assess over 150 local governments, state agencies and state-owned corporations in Australia. The framework is emerging into a well-recognised standard for adaptation governance. 

Donovan is an environmental planner with a first class honours and a recipient of a Wentworth Scholarship. Donovan believes that the private sector can play a significant role in climate change adaptation.

Tanya Sinha (Climate Change Adaptation Researcher)

Tanya is Climate Planning's climate change adaptation researcher.  She is an undergraduate student at the University of Queensland studying a dual Law/Arts program majoring in Public Policy and Economics. She has a strong interest in private sector initiatives and climate change policy and hopes to learn more about this field by interning with Climate Planning. 

She has been a former legislative intern in the United States Senate researching and comparing American and Australian climate change frameworks. She has also been a paralegal intern at the Environmental Defenders Office (QLD) assisting on novel climate change litigation. 


Chloe Portanger (Information Analytics Specialist)

Chloe is Climate Planning’s Information Analytics Specialist. Chloe has considerable expertise in managing and interpreting data to support informed-decision making (which is fundamental to robust adaptation planning). Chloe’s role includes database architecture and analysis, creation of spatial information (GIS) and climate change adaptation research. She is interested in exploring the implications of energy security for vulnerable populations groups exposed to climate change impacts, especially heatwaves. This is the subject of her current Honours thesis at Griffith University on the Gold Coast.


Adjunct Professor Peter Best (Senior Associate)

Peter is the Director of Cindual Pty Ltd and is an associate of Climate Planning. Most of Peter's career has focussed on the evaluation of the impacts of extreme events, ranging from air pollution episodes, heatwave impacts on energy demand generation and distribution, influences of climate variability and change on the characteristics of extreme events to the forecasting of imminent risks.   In the past decade, Peter has become increasing involved in climate adaptation projects, in association with a university and two climate risk specialist companies.

The industries covered Peter's thirty years of consulting and research experience have included  power (generation, transmission, supply) and industrial processing of all types, intensive livestock, mining, cropping, waste processing and environmental management, renewable energy (especially wind resources), water resource planning and transport.

Dr Johanna Nalau (Senior Associate)


Dr Johanna Nalau is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with Griffith Climate Change Response Program (GCCRP) and Griffith Institute for Tourism (GIFT) at Griffith University specializing in climate change adaptation policy- and decision-making processes. Johanna is a social scientist whose research focuses on understanding how policy- and decision-makers deal with some of the central assumptions related to climate change adaptation, and the array of factors and processes that drive and constrain climate change adaptation, including constraints emerging from adaptation science and theory. Other current research includes ecosystem-based adaptation, sustainable tourism, traditional knowledge, and disaster risk management, with a recent focus in the Pacific region. She previously coordinated and led the first climate adaptation project in Zanzibar, Tanzania before joining Griffith in 2009, and has conducted research in Australia, Fiji, Vanuatu, Samoa, and Kiribati.

Johanna is an Editorial Advisory Board Member of the Australian Journal of Emergency Management (AJEM) and Associate Editor of the International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management. She is a contributing author for the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report (WG II, chapters 16 and 25), and is particularly interested in the notion of adaptation limits and the role different institutional systems play in reinforcing some of these limits and constraints. She also manages the adaptation-list, which is a global network of social scientists engaged in adaptation research.

Ian Edwards (Senior Associate)


Ian specialises in climate change adaptation and alternate risk transfer and adaptation for the private sector. He is a chartered accountant with twenty years experience in national and international financial services. He has worked across a broad spectrum of the financial industry including public practice, investment banking and reinsurance. His career has focused predominantly on affecting system change at a multinational scale, which has afforded him strong analytical, financial, information technology and project management skills.  Ian recently received a first class Masters Honours dissertation with the School of Environment at Griffith University. His research explores the viability of risk transfer mechanisms in the face of increasing climate risk within the context of Local Government.

Abner Calixter (Senior Associate)

Abner Calixter is a climate-minded project manager, consultant with a research focus speaks of adaptation of vulnerable communities. His academic background includes a Master of Arts (M.A) degree in Sustainable International Development from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management - Brandeis University related to sustainable development planning, design and policies. His expertise in Urban Climate Adaptation has been further enriched through his time with the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) DUSP – Department of Urban Studies and Planning. At the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD), he has also earned Executive Education Certificates in Climate Adapted Design and Master Planning for Sustainable Cities.

Abner is currently affiliated to the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure at Harvard, developing a case study about a large road development in Brazil. Also he is co-founder of an urban resilience hub of experts based in Brazil and USA - CAJU (Climate Adaptive & Just Urbanism); executive advisor of Urban Elements Foundation based in Venezuela and USA, also associate of Mahle Institute based in German and Brazil. In 2014, he has contributed as technical advisor to the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) Equator Initiative nominating sustainable projects across the globe to award the Equator Prize 2014. Abner has seven years of experience in commercial and institutional relations, working for multinational companies being responsible for business management and manufacturing of environmentally friendly automotive components in South America. He also holds a Bachelor’s in International Business Management from the Methodist University of Piracicaba (UNIMEP) in Brazil and a specialization in Project Management from the Vanzolini Foundation.


Dr. Nhat Nguyen Duc – Development Economist (Senior Associate) (VIETSURVEY)

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Dr. Nguyen Duc Nhat is a development economist with more than 12 years of experience.  He holds a PhD in Economics from Pantheon Sorbonne University of Paris where he explored the determinants to growth including governance reform, investment and the role of social assistance in transition economies.    Dr. Nhat has extensive research and experience with the Vietnamese economy in transition period, including investigating private sector development and governance reform. His recent work focuses on climate change adaptation and barriers and enablers for change. This includes research on insurance and alternative transfer mechanisms, public private partnerships, small-medium enterprise risk management and supply chain disruption under a changing climate, Dr. Nhat has been been the lead developer of a number of high-profiled micro data development projects in Vietnam. At present he is the Lead Economist at VIETSURVEY and a senior lecturer at FPT Business School based in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Eric Kaufman - Senior Associate and Founder of the Natural Resilience Fund (USA)

Eric Kaufman founded The Natural Resilience Fund, Inc. in August 2013. He is currently the NRF Principal, President and CEO.  This 501(c)(3) private not-for-profit corporation advocates for and develops financing strategies to safeguard human life, real estate, critical infrastructure and natural systems from the effects of climate change.

Prior to this on-going effort, Eric and his business partners secured approval from NYC in late 2013 to construct a 630-foot Observation Wheel as the centerpiece of and destination site for the Staten Island Ferry Terminal Special District in St. George, Staten Island. This $500 million public-private partnership is being completely funded by private investment. Construction shall commence by the 2nd Quarter of 2015 with an anticipated opening date of summer 2017.

Eric has bought, sold, financed, developed, managed and acted as contractor for well over $1B in transactions since he began his real estate career in 1982. Through the 1990’s he was the #2 at The Carlton Group, a well-known real estate investment banking firm. There he helped start the firm’s real estate financing division. Eric has advised the Collegiate Church on their real estate holdings since 1996 and converted 1100 apartments to co-operatives or condominiums in the 1980s. He has an A.B. from Vassar College and an M.B.A. from the Wharton School.

Contact Eric 

Scott Shearer (Social Planner - Senior Associate)


Scott Shearer is an environmental and social planner who specialises in community and stakeholder engagement, needs assessments, community and social infrastructure planning, and public space planning.  Specifically, Scott’s expertise, skills and interest is planning for young people and teenagers’ needs, and their participation in the planning process.   
With six years experience, nationally and internationally, across private, public, and non-government sectors, he has been involved in numerous social and community planning projects, ranging from regional and city wide scale to local level and site specific.   Scott is currently a senior researcher with Griffith University’s Urban Research Program where he is exploring cross-boundary governance issues associated with climate change adaptation. 

Mohammed Sadeck Boulahya (Senior Associate)

Mohammed Sadeck Boulahya has served as Director General of the Algerian Ministry and Transport and Meteorology and as the first Director of ACMAD. During the last three decades, he has acquired outstanding experience in science & technology for development and capacity building to enable professionals in applying weather and climate information and services to natural resource management and agriculture in Algeria, the whole of Africa and beyond. He holds a Research Certificate in Arid Land Agro-meteorology from CSIRO-Australia, State Engineer in Hydro-Meteorology, WMO Class I Master of Sciences, and Diploma in Advanced Applied Mathematics. With the support from UNDP-GEF and GCOS, Mohammed Sadeck contributed to the initiation, development and resource mobilization of the ClimDevAfrica Programme with full ownership and leadership from the main Pan African Institutions, like AUC, ECA and AfDB.

In parallel, he has contributed to the conception of an Early Warning and Advisory Climate Services System as a support to an Integrated Disaster & Climate Risk Management for Tunisia. Since January 2009, he has been a Senior Adviser to the ACMAD Management, with a mission to initiate an International Development & Advocacy Committee of Eminent Persons (IDACom-ACMAD) for resource mobilization and strategic partnership.

Jemma Haughton (Administration Support)

Jemma has recently joined Climate Planning as an administration support staff.  Jemma has considerable administration and organisational skills and experience. She provides crucial secretarial and administrative support to ensure that the Climate Planning office functions efficiently.