Our people


Our NDC Support Programme team draws on a diverse group of specialists in governance and policy, finance, climate change, energy and development. Together, we work with countries on strengthening local capacities to meet the national climate and development targets as outlined in the NDCs.

Our team comprises a global support team, as well as a national project team which includes focal points at UNDP’s country offices, a dedicated project manager and governmental focal points in each of our programme countries. Building on UNDP’s country knowledge and expertise, we provide services that are tailored to local needs and growth targets.


Global NDC Team

Cassie Flynn

Cassie Flynn is the Head of Climate Policy and Strategy for the United Nations Development Programme. In 2017 – 2018, she served as a Senior Advisor to the Prime Minister of Fiji in his role as COP23 President. As an expert on the international treaty negotiations on climate change, Cassie provides advice to countries on how to develop and fulfill their pledges under the Paris Agreement. She was named one of the most influential people on climate change by Onalytica.

Cassie also co-founded ioby.org, a non-profit to help build stronger, more sustainable neighborhoods. The organization was recognized by President Obama, and Cassie, along with her co-founders, won a Jane Jacobs medal. Cassie delivered a TED talk on connecting world leaders to climate activism in 2019. She has been featured by CNN, BBC, Wall Street Journal, La Monde, New York Times, and other publications.

Cassie earned her Master’s degree from Yale University and undergraduate degrees from Bowdoin College.


Rebecca Carman

Rebecca first joined UNDP in 1998 and has supported developing countries on a range of climate change issues, including Nationally Determined Contributions, National Communications, GHG inventory systems, adaptation, mitigation and climate finance. Prior to UNDP, Rebecca worked in the Environment Division of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris, France. She holds an MBA from one of Australia’s top-ranked business schools.

Countries: Bhutan, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam

Focal point:  Inequality, IKI NDC Support Cluster’s groups on Data and Transparency and Sectoral Approaches, NDC Partnership


Verania Chao

Verania is the Gender, Inclusion & Climate Change Specialist at UNDP. She has worked for UNDP for more than a decade, where she has developed strong expertise in gender, climate and environment issues. As her work has focused on the integration of gender equality and women's empowerment into national planning and capacity building processes, she is currently spearheading the work on gender-responsive NDC revision and implementation as part of the Climate Strategies and Policy Team at UNDP HQ. Previously, she oversaw the environment, energy and climate change portfolio in UNDP’s country office in Mexico, where she worked with national and subnational governments, civil society organizations and at the community level. Verania holds an MSc in Environment and Development from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Focal point: Gender-responsive NDCs, Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities


Alana Craigen

As NDC Coordinator for the Climate Strategies and Policies Team, Alana contributes to the strategic positioning of UNDP’s Climate Promise initiative through global advocacy and engagement with partners, within and outside the UN system. She supports the mainstreaming of climate action into other relevant fields of work through close collaboration with other UNDP teams and a broad range of partners and networks. Alana leads the team’s work on circular economy, including sustainable fashion. She is also UNDP's global focal point for Regional Climate Weeks. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a Master's of Science in Sustainable Development from the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium.

Focal point: Circular Economy, Global Events.


Catherine Diam-Valla

Catherine is an expert on energy access with a particular focus on enterprise development, GHG emissions reduction from household appliances, monitoring and evaluation, and gender and social inclusion. She has been in the environmental and renewable energy sector for more than 12 years and holds a Master of Sciences degree in Environmental Sciences and Policy from Johns Hopkins University.

Countries: Green Bonds, Brazil, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria


Fabiane Flesch

Fabiane is in charge of programme operations and leads on budgeting, forecasting, analysis, and presentation of financial performance in order to enable data-driven and strategic decisions. Working with UNDP since 2004, she brings a broad range of experiences including UN field and headquarter experience, as well as public sector expertise from the Brazilian Ministry of Education. As the resident operations expert, Fabiane provides solutions and guidance to the team on all operations issues. She guides country focal points on monitoring national project delivery and assists the country teams on their financial information and budgeting. Fabiane is originally from Brazil and holds a Bachelors of Arts in Public Relations from Centro Universitário de Brasília.


Gianluca Merlo

Gianluca is an engineer with deep experience in the fields of energy, oil & gas and water management. Since 2006, he has been consulting on emissions mitigation projects, greenhouse gas inventories, climate finance and climate change adaptation projects in Latin America and the Caribbean. He was the chief executive of the Latin American Carbon Program CAF. Based in UNDP’s Regional Center for Latin America and the Caribbean in Panama, Gianluca holds an M.A. Cum Laude in Environmental Engineering from the Andrés Bello Catholic University in Caracas and a specialization in Hydrogeology from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia in Barcelona, Spain.

Countries: Adaptation, Resilience, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru


Susanne Olbrisch

Working with UNDP since 2008, Susanne focuses on climate finance. She has been co-developing UNDP methodologies for climate finance and biodiversity finance, and has been leading the work on climate finance assessments for mitigation and adaptation. Prior to this, she worked on water issues with UNESCO in Bangkok, as well as with the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. Susanne has worked with UNEP in Nairobi on environmental education and with GIZ in India on water and sanitation. Her work has brought her to more than 30 countries worldwide. She holds a Master’s degree in economics, politics and geography from the University of Bonn, Germany.

Countries: Republic of Congo, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Morocco, Thailand, Viet Nam.

Finance work: Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, Nigeria, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Viet Nam.

Focal point: Financial flows, NDC Cluster Finance (UNDP focal point)

Alexandra Soezer

Alexandra is an expert in climate change mitigation and carbon finance. She supports countries in a variety of areas to enhance NDC implementation, including private sector engagement, structured finance, MRV, NDC mitigation action design and implementation. Previously, Alexandra worked with MDG Carbon, UNDP’s corporate framework for carbon finance for nearly seven years, building on her experience that she gained at the Austrian JI/CDM Programme, managed by Kommunalkredit. Alexandra earned her PhD in Environmental Sciences at the Austrian Institute of Technology with a specialization on fluctuating micro-climatic stresses on plants.

Countries: The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lao PDR, Uganda, Vanuatu

Focal point: Carbon markets, private sector investment, SLCPs, Nairobi Framework Partnership, Paris Climate Bond


Sangji Lee

Working with UN since 2014, Sangji brings a broad range of experience working in the field, regional office, and at HQ. She provides technical support to countries in NDC planning and implementation, focusing on mobilising climate finance, and guiding evidence-based NDC making and just transition through the provision of assessment tools. Before joining the NDC Support Programme team, Sangji worked with UNDP Mozambique, the UNDP Global Policy Centre in Seoul, the OHCHR Regional Office in Fiji, UN Department of Political Affairs in HQ, research institutes, and government. Sangji holds a Master’s degree in Environment and Development from the London School of Economics and earned a certification from the Korean Ministry of Environment with her specialty in environmental economics and market-based climate mitigation instruments.

Countries: Indonesia, Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI), Nepal,Zimbabwe

Focal Point: COVID-19 and green recovery efforts, The Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action, Just Transition, and Carbon Pricing.


Allison Towle

Allison focuses on programme oversite, knowledge management and exchange, and helps support the newly launched gender-responsive component of the NDC Support Programme. After joining UNDP in 2010, Allison started working on the National Communications Support Programme before moving on to the Low Emission Capacity Building and NDC Support Programmes. She holds a Master’s degree in International Development and Social Change from Clark University. Prior to UNDP, Allison worked in international education and lived in Jerusalem, Kyoto, New Delhi and San Francisco. 

Countries: Lebanon

Focal point: Migration, IKI NDC Support Cluster  


James Vener

James is an environmental engineer with more than 10 years of experience in providing on the ground technical assistance on climate change issues. Working for UNDP and UN Environment, he focused on policymaking, mitigation actions, and monitoring and reporting systems. James has an environmental engineering background and professional PE certification, and previously worked extensively in construction management, clean-up of contaminated work sites, and M&A environmental due diligence. James holds a Master of Engineering degree from the University of Florida and an MPA in Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia University.

Countries: DRC, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Zambia

Focal point: Long-term Strategies, IKI NDC Cluster Sectoral Approaches Working Group