Our work is about giving people in government the courage to step up. The recent establishment of the BRICS New Development Bank is a milestone – and testament to the coming of age of developing countries in the world of development finance.

Bijagos (c) Hellio van Ingen

Out of Africa

Oshani’s no-nonsense approach combines practicality with innovative thinking on property rights and foreign direct investment designed to give developing country governments the confidence to secure deals that deliver sustainability and value for money.

An environmentalist and economist by training, Oshani was born in Sri Lanka but spent much of her childhood in Africa where her father ran part of the family business in copper and commodities.

Before joining IISD in 2010 in pursuit of positive impact, Oshani worked with McKinsey & Company where she witnessed first-hand just how ill-equipped some governments were to negotiate with multinationals and secure major infrastructure deals in the national interest.

Africa inspired my soul. There was no TV, just a big low orange moon and golden sunset on the Veld. I used to take photographs of elephants and big cats, and desperately wanted to have my own private game reserve!

A new narrative

With a keen appreciation of realpolitik, Oshani’s diligence, creativity and ability to network at the highest levels of government, make things happen. In the current climate of political instability and a changing world order, she is adamant that we need a bold new narrative – one that supports progressive leaders and politicians to make the case for sustainability – but also that we must not seek perfection at the expense of ‘good enough’ government.

(c) iStock-uschools

We face twin perils of climate change and protectionism. My hope is that common sense will prevail but if we want a better future, we must help the allies in power that we still have.

Promoting sustainable infrastructure

Oshani’s work with IISD focused on making sustainable infrastructure the preferred option for project planners, investors and governments alike, is a central strand of our partners’ work for a sustainable economy. Read more about MAVA’s Action Plan on this subject.

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