Briefly About

open book bwKorinna Horta, Ph.D.
Researcher, Writer & Advisor

Development Finance & Infrastructure Investment
Environmental Sustainability, Social Equity & Accountability

English, Portuguese & German / working knowledge of French & Spanish

For more than twenty years I have carried out extensive research on the impacts of international financial flows in areas such as natural resource management of forests and water, extractive industries, the rights of indigenous peoples and human rights more broadly. Field research has taken me to remote regions in many regions of Africa and some in Asia and Latin America. I participated in international coalitions working to promote public policy reforms based on the findings of the research, testified in the US Congress and provided evidence to European parliaments.

My educational background includes a Ph.D. from the University of London (SOAS), an M.A. from Johns-Hopkins University (SAIS) and a ‘licenciatura’ from the Universidade Nova de Lisboa (FSC). I am fluent in English, Portuguese and German and have working knowledge of French and Spanish. More detail in CV (LINK).

Although I started off with an academic career at the University of Lisbon, I gratefully accepted the opportunity to work for non-profits. Both the Environmental Defense Fund in the U.S. and Urgewald in Germany made it possible for me to carry out research and advocacy on the policies and programs financed by multilateral development banks. A critically important aspect of this work involved facilitating direct exchanges between affected local communities in remote regions and global decision-making centers.

I have worked extensively on environmental and social policies of the World Bank and more recently of the Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

As a member of the Compliance Review Panel of the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington.D.C. I participated in investigations on the IDB’s adherence to its own environmental and social policies in large infrastructure projects.

At present I serve as a compliance officer of the Social and Environmental Compliance Unit in the Office of Audit and Investigations of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Just as at the IDB, this work is meant to provide bottom-up accountability where communities negatively affected by internationally financed programs can make their voices heard.

Other consultancies included advising the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (Geneva), the U.S. Institute of Peace (Washington, D.C.), German Bilateral International Cooperation (Bonn) and the Heinrich Boll Foundation (Berlin).

Bringing together social and environmental advocacy with academic scholarship is mutually enriching. I have been a Yale University Stimson Fellow for four years and a guest lecturer at numerous universities in the U.S. and in Europe, including Harvard Business School, Columbia University Law School and the London School of Economics.

In addition, to a book on international financial institutions and biodiversity, I co-authored a book on East Timor and wrote numerous book chapters and articles including in The Harvard Human Rights Journal, The Yale Journal of International Affairs, The New Scientist, IWGIA Newsletter, Ethnies, The Ecologist, Multinational Monitor, D&C-Development & Cooperation, EPA Journal, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Journal of Commerce, The Christian Science Monitor, The Guardian, Die Zeit, Sueddeutsche Zetiung ,O Público.

As the places where we have lived shape who we are, among my most formative experiences were the three years I spent in my late teenage years in Timor-Leste, then still a Portuguese colony. There I learnt first hand about the intricate relationship of remote rural communities to their land and developed a deep respect for indigenous knowledge.

As the child of a German refugee mother, I knew something about displacement from early on, but I also learned how it is to live under colonialism and dictatorship.

Following Timor Leste’s military occupation by Indonesia, I worked for more than two decades as a volunteer with East Timorese refugees and Church leaders to generate public attention to the horrific plight of the East Timorese and engage with European and U.S. policy makers.