Gunars Platais headshot
Adjunct Associate Professor
Environment and Natural Resources

Dr. Gunārs Platais is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Mortenson Center in Global Engineering & Resilience where he teaches Introduction to Development Economics for Engineers. He is leading the effort to update and adapt the Mortenson Center Graduate Certificate for online delivery. He also holds an affiliate faculty position with the Masters of the Environment program at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Gunārs has a BSc in Forest Engineering from his native Brazil, a MSc from Colorado State University in mathematical optimization of natural resources management and a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley in Wildland Resource Science where he focused on Natural Resource Economics and Policy.

Prior to joining the Mortenson Center, Gunārs worked for 20 years at the World Bank where he focused on environmental and natural resource economics and environmental risk management. He led multidisciplinary teams in large lending operations such as the US$50 million Ecomarkets project in Costa Rica or the $US40 million Reflorestar project in Brazil. Before joining the World Bank, he worked as Policy advisor to the government on the US$20 million USAID funded Green Project in El Salvador. Under his leadership the country, that had recently signed the peace accords, ending the long civil war, promulgated its first environmental law.

Throughout his career, he has undertaken analytical work and specialized in the integration of natural resource management and conservation in policy and decision-making processes. Interested in innovative financial instruments, he has been instrumental in introducing concepts such as Payment for Environmental Services (PES) at an operational level in the Global South. He has worked extensively throughout Latin America and provided cross-support to Bank teams in Asia, Africa and Europe. As a fully accredited environmental risk management specialist he worked on the application of environmental safeguards throughout multiple sectors (health, energy, water, transport, infrastructure).

Research Interests

  • Development Studies
  • Rural Development
  • Economic Policy Analysis
  • Sustainable Development Strategies
  • Economic Analysis


  • PhD, Wildland Resource Science, University of California Berkely (1998)
  • MS, Forest Management and Economics, Colorado State University (1989)
  • BS, Forest Engineering, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (1982

Recent Publications

  • May, P., Platais, G., DiGregorio, M., Gowdy, J., Pinto, L.F.G., Laurans Y., Cervone, C.O.F.O., Rankovic, A., and Santamaria, M. (2018). The TEEBAgriFood theory of change: from information to action. In TEEB for Agriculture & Food: Scientific and Economic Foundations. Geneva: UN Environment.
  • Tirado von der Pahlen, M.C., Arias, D., Comim, F., Briseno, A., Kinderlerer, J., Lee, S., Platais, G., and Rapallo, R. (2018). Social equity, ethics, and justice: missing links in eco-agri-food systems. In TEEB for Agriculture & Food: Scientific and Economic Foundations. Geneva: UN Environment.
  • Tan, A., Richey, J.E., Sossai, M.F., Platais, G.. 2016. Print. Hydrologic sensitivity of streamflow runoff to climate change in Espirito Santo, Brazil. Submitted to Water Resources Research.
  • Mendonca, A., Platais, G., Machado, J.A., Novelli, F., Beloti, T. 2016. Print. Restoration of Forest Landscapes in the State of Espirito Santo, Brazil: From pilot projects to state policy of large-scale restoration.