About ICF

Robert Kay, Ph.D.

Principal, Climate Change and Innovation + ICF Climate Center Senior Fellow
Robert is a climate change innovator, with over three decades of experience leading climate change impact assessments, climate change adaptation, and sustainable coastal zone management.

Robert has over three decades of experience leading climate change impact assessments, climate change adaptation, and sustainable coastal zone management. He has worked in over 60 countries across multiple sectors, including government, consulting, and universities. He has in-depth understanding of on-ground action and expertise in global-level strategy and policy.

Robert has worked on projects from global-to-local scales. He has consulted with international organizations including the United Nations (UN) Environment Program, UN Development Program, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat, International Oceanographic Commission, and development banks such as the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. Robert has worked for private sector and government clients at all levels, including over 40 local climate change adaptation plans worldwide. He has led projects across Europe, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, South America, and Africa. Since 2009, Robert has provided expert support to delegations to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. He was a member of the Pacific Islands delegation to the UN Paris conference specializing in adaptation finance that resulted in the Paris Agreement.

Robert designs and facilitates expert workshops and conferences worldwide, combining technical experience with an in-depth understanding of group dynamics to achieve shared outcomes. He has pivoted this experience to virtual engagements, where he uses leading technologies to create engaging virtual experiences.

As a thought leader and author, Robert has written over 120 papers, articles, and consultancy reports on climate change vulnerability impact assessments, adaptation, and coastal management.

Based in Los Angeles since 2015, Robert brings global best practices in climate change adaptation to resilience decision-making to help clients transform their climate change missions. He develops pathways to adapt to climate change impacts that both address immediate priorities and manage stakeholder needs. Standing alongside California with its climate leadership role, Robert played an integral part in the state’s 2018 Global Climate Action Summit, organizing the Global Resilience Partnership Day of Action. Robert’s extensive network includes a range of national and international professionals working across business, industry, and research. This level of connection benefits all our clients who wish to leverage best practices and critical knowledge to meet their business goals.

Robert is an adjunct professor in the Sustainability Research Centre at the Sunshine Coast University in Australia. He is also a senior fellow with the ICF Climate Center. In this role, Robert provides compelling research and objective perspectives on a wide range of climate-related topics to help advance climate conversations and accelerate climate action.

"The race to resilience includes us all but none more so than government and business. Now is the time to transform our ambition to meet the climate change challenge. As the U.S. takes its place as a climate leader under the Paris Agreement, I know that running with others helps everyone run faster."
  • Ph.D., Environmental Science, University of East Anglia
  • B.S., Geology, Cardiff University.
  • Roster of Experts, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
  • Member, California Executive Order N-19-19 Climate Science Advisory Working Group
  • Co-lead, Risk and Resilience, Committee, Association of Environmental Professionals
  • Expert Reviewer, International Panel on Climate Change
  • Expert Reviewer, United Nations Environment Program Adaptation Gaps report
  • Member, American Association of Adaptation Professionals
  • Member, Editorial Board of the International Journal Coastal Management
  • Kay, R. C. and Alder, J. (2005). Coastal Planning and Management (Second Edition). E & F Spon (Routledge), London, 384pp.
  • Kay, R.C., Haines, A., Rosenzweig, C., Steffen, W,. and Thom. (2013). Conversations on Adaptation Effectiveness. In: ‘Climate Adaptation Futures' Editors: Jean Palutikof, Martin Parry and Sarah Boulter and others, Wiley, London, pp. 75-86.
  • Glavovic, B, Kelly, M.T, Kay, R.C, Travers, A.T. (2015). Coasts and Climate Change: Waves of Adversity and Layers of Resilience. Wiley, London.


An economic approach to investing in climate adaptation
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Ramping-up climate adaptation through a “pathways” approach
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The U.S. is rejoining the Paris Agreement—what does it mean for you?
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Opportunities to enhance federal government climate resilience
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Introducing a new strategy to help utilities adapt to climate change
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Effective meetings and collaborations from a distance
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Empowering renewable energy development in pacific island countries
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California is taking climate change leadership to the next level
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