Today, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation announced that Jonathan Pershing will return to the foundation as the director of its Environment Program after serving a year as Deputy Special Envoy for Climate at the U.S. Department of State. Pershing served as Hewlett’s Environment Program director from 2017 to 2021 and, on March 1, he will return to lead our longstanding efforts to address the climate crisis and to preserve biodiversity while serving the diverse communities of the North American West.
“Jonathan is a visionary leader who has continually helped raise the climate ambitions of decisionmakers around the world,” said Larry Kramer, president of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. “We are grateful for all he helped the U.S. accomplish in the past year, and we look forward to having him back at the helm of our Environment Program.”
Pershing supported Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry in advancing various international commitments over the past year. These include the conclusion of the Glasgow Climate Pact at the UN Climate Convention, adoption of a Global Methane Pledge by over 100 countries, a joint declaration between China and the U.S. on enhancing climate action, and a commitment by nations representing over half of the world’s economy to reduce their emissions to levels that will keep the warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius over the next decade.
From January 2017 to February 2021, Pershing helped Hewlett’s Environment Program incorporate issues like climate finance, carbon dioxide removal, wildfires, and more into its strategic approach. He also aided Hewlett in becoming increasingly attentive to the intersection of climate and justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion and played a key role in fostering greater collaboration with and among other climate partners and funders.
Before Hewlett, Pershing served as Special Envoy for Climate Change at the U.S. Department of State and lead U.S. negotiator to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. He was instrumental in securing the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement and subsequently oversaw its early implementation.
Pershing also previously served as the Senior Climate Advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Energy and the Principal Deputy Director of the Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis at the Department of Energy. He spent six years as the director of the Climate, Energy and Pollution Program at the World Resources Institute; five years as the Head of the Environment Division at the International Energy Agency in Paris; and Science Advisor and Deputy Director of the Office of Global Change in the U.S. Department of State.
Pershing holds a Ph.D. in geology and geophysics from the University of Minnesota. He has taught at the University of Minnesota and at American University and published and lectured widely on climate and energy issues, including serving as an author and review editor for the Nobel-prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.