Dr. Z.J. (Zac) Taylor

Dr. Z.J. (Zac) Taylor


Climate finance has emerged at the top of the international policy agenda in recent years, and it is now widely recognized that significant shifts in existing finance and investment paradigms will be needed to facilitate timely, effective, and equitable climate transitions. However, climate finance remains dominated by large top-down financial institutions, enacted through opaque decision-making processes and often-extractive financing instruments, and limited in geographical scope and scale relative to demand. Too little is understood about how climate finance translates to on-the-ground urban contexts where investments occur and ‘gaps’ are most acute, and how these finance and investment approaches interact with existing social and spatial challenges, like income inequality and environmental injustice, or create unintended ‘secondary effects,’ such as climate gentrification.

My research advances critical and practical knowledge which bridges climate finance with the place-specific challenges of urban climate action in two ways. First, I analyse climate finance from an urban geographical perspective. For example, I have examined how insurance-linked securitization – a leading global financial market strategy for managing climate risk in the property insurance sector – originated as a financial ‘risk fix’ within Florida’s hurricane-prone residential real estate market, one which enables sustained high-risk patterns of development to the benefit of risk capital markets but at great cost to homeowners and society more broadly (Taylor 2020; Taylor and Weinkle 2020). I argue for more systematic and imaginative approaches to managing and financing high-risk spatial development. Similarly, I have analysed how the climate risk management practices of real estate-finance institutions like investors and re/insurers create variegated housing displacement and community downgrading pressures in high-risk housing contexts (Taylor and Aalbers 2022). Embedding my analysis in the Greater Miami context, I make the case for coalition-based urban governance approaches that attend to these emerging social and spatial challenges by explicitly addressing housing resilience.

Second, and closely related, I champion practical strategies to embed climate finance within new urban governance strategies, and to leverage finance to address the place-specific dimensions of the climate crisis in a joined-up and equitable fashion. In collaboration with several large international real estate investment institutions, I have assessed emerging industry best practices for climate risk management, and have developed practical tools to advance this work, including a framework for integrating complex climate risks within investment decision-making (see Urban Land Institute 2022). Working with a broad consortium of academics, private investors, public sector actors, and other key stakeholders, I have also co-facilitate a large program on integrated urban area investment and development in the Netherlands, titled RED&BLUE: Real Estate Development and Building in Low Urban Environments. RED&BLUE is funded by the NWA-ORC program of the Dutch Research Council. More information about is available on the RED&BLUE website.

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  • Urban climate finance
  • Real estate development and finance
  • Urban governance, with a focus on land and propery regimes
  • Climate adaptation and mitigation
  • Relational and comparative analysis
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Academische achtergrond

Prior to joining the Department of Management in the Built Environment at TU Delft, I held a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at KU Leuven. I have a PhD in Geography from the University of Leeds, and obtained degrees in urban planning from the London School of Economics and UC Berkeley. My work has been published in academic journals including the Annals of the American Association of Geographers, Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, and Environment and Planning A. I have authored professional reports on real estate management, finance, climate risk, and sustainability in collaboration with the Urban Land Institute and US Green Building Council, and my research has been profiled in the New York Times and other media outlets. I currently co-convene the Urban Climate Finance Network.

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