Emma Williams

Associate Fellow, Environment and Society Centre


Emma Williams works on issues relating to climate change, biodiversity and international development, with a particular focus on risk and resilience. Her current projects include work on food systems transformation and the use of disaster risk finance to improve resilience to climate shocks in low- and middle-income countries. Her recent publications include The Value of Climate Cooperation: Networked and Inclusive Multilateralism to Meet 1.5°C (2021).

Until 2020, Emma led international environment strategy and aid spending as a senior civil servant at the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Before this she spent over a decade at the UK Department for International Development, including heading its Jerusalem office, running DFID’s green growth programme in Ethiopia, working in DFID’s strategy unit, and leading UK negotiations on adaptation at the UN climate talks. 

She holds an MPhil in International Development from the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex University, and a BA in English from the University of Cambridge. 

Past experience

2021-present Independent consultant
2018-20 Deputy Director, International Environment, UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
2018 Interim Head of Office, Jerusalem, UK Department for International Development
2016-18 Deputy Head of Department and Head of Financial Sector Team, Private Sector Department, UK Department for International Development 
2012-16 Deputy Head of Office (2016); Head of Wealth Creation and Climate Change (2013-16) and Climate Change Adviser (2012-13), Ethiopia, UK Department for International Development