Closing the Investment Gap (CIG)

The CIG team addresses the existential challenge of the climate crisis at the speed and scale with which the risks are growing – through a rapid scale-up of investment in clean and sustainable infrastructure.

CIG develops innovative financial strategies for key sustainable infrastructure projects. CIG’s approach seeks to leverage and catalyze private capital, creating project pipelines and managing risks, so as to attract institutional investors to developing countries and emerging economies.

What's at Stake

Globally, over USD 6.9 trillion in annual financing is needed to deliver the Paris Agreement commitments and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With over 100 trillion in private assets under management, the institutional investor community is key to meeting these goals.  All actors – countries, cities, companies, civil society and more – will need to raise their level of ambition and act aggressively to meet those commitments.

What We Do

CIG is leveraging several years of capacity building efforts that focused on bringing together financial sector executives, project developers, and government officials to raise awareness of emerging low-risk, but high-priority investment opportunities in developing countries. These capacity building efforts included individualized financial training, presentation experience, and multi-stakeholder dialogues in an effort to attract financing for those opportunities.

The CIG initiative’s current goal is to develop and disseminate financing strategies able to rapidly scale up private sector investment in climate-smart, sustainable infrastructure projects that benefit developing countries.

The CIG approach is designed to:

  • Attract the attention of the managers of the fixed income allocations in institutional investors’ portfolios to aggregated sets of low-risk investment opportunities in the infrastructure sector,
  • While maximizing developing countries’ access to low-cost financing for their high-priority, “green” infrastructure projects, and minimizing developing countries’ dependence on public sector funding for those projects.

By working directly with developing country governments and local investment teams, we identify pipelines of resilient and sustainable infrastructure projects that are capital efficient and cost-effective. 

CIG aims to finance these projects in a form that meets the criteria for equity investment or debt financing that are used by the high grade, liquid, fixed-income allocation of investor portfolios.

Women and SMEs are critical to the success and implementation of the clean energy transition in developing countries. CIG conducts research and incorporates capacity-building activities to support women’s empowerment globally by expanding access to financial services for rural women and indigenous communities in developing countries. CIG achieves this by identifying opportunities for commercial banks and insurance companies that take advantage of recent advances in digital finance and mobile money.

Who We Are

The CIG Initiative is led by Irving Mintzer and Amber Leonard. They have been at the forefront of climate issues, multilateral financing, and renewable energy project development in developing countries and emerging markets for forty years. Co-founders and partners Ken Lay and John Lipsky have been leaders in development finance and international macroeconomic policy for a similar period.

Dr. Irving Mintzer

Irving Mintzer is a professor in the R.H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland (College Park) and Director of the Initiative on Closing the Investment Gap (CIG) in Sustainable Infrastructure. CIG is a developing country-focused project that is designed to enhance financial sector capacity and promote private sector investment in developing countries. Irving has consulted on climate and finance for the World Bank, UNDP, UNEP, the UNFCCC, and major international corporations, including Shell International, Swiss Re, Tokyo Electric Power, and Maersk Shipping. Prior to joining the University of Maryland, he was a professor in the Energy, Resources, and Environment Program of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Irving holds a PhD in Energy and Resources and an MBA in Applied Economics from the University of California, Berkeley.

Amber Leonard

Amber Leonard is a Senior Fellow in the Center for Financial Policy in the R.H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland and Executive Director of the Initiative on Closing the Investment Gap in Sustainable Infrastructure. She is a specialist in marketing, international business, and capacity building. Amber has worked at the intersection of energy, environment, and development for more than thirty years. She was a co-founder and co-convenor of the Consortium for North-South Dialogue and Partnership on Climate Change, an NGO network of senior climate analysts and advocates on five continents. For seven years, she was Managing Editor of Global Change magazine. Amber has a BA degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and an MBA in International Business from California State University, San Francisco.

Ken Lay, Esq.

Ken Lay is co-chair of the CIG International Advisory Committee. He also serves as chair of the International Financing Facility for Immunization (IFFIm) and as a senior managing director of the Rock Creek Group. He previously served as Treasurer of The World Bank Group and, earlier in his career, as country director for several Eastern European and Latin American countries. He was previously head of the World Bank’s financial sector expert practice and head of its capital markets department. He began his career as a litigator in the Enforcement Division of the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Ken holds a BA from Dartmouth College and a JD from The George Washington University Law School. He is an active member of the State Bar of California.

Dr. John Lipsky

John Lipsky is co-chair of the CIG International Advisory Committee John also is a Senior Fellow in the Foreign Policy Institute at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) John currently serves as the Chair of the National Bureau of Economic Research, the co-Chair of the Aspen Institute’s Program on the World Economy, and the Vice Chair of both the Center for Global Development and the Bretton Woods Committee Prior to joining SAIS, he was first deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund He previously held positions of vice chairman of JPMorgan Investment Bank, chief economist at JPMorgan Chase, and chief economist of Salomon Brothers John received a Ph D in Economics from Stanford University.

Additional CIG team members have specialized expertise and decades of experience in finance, risk management, credit ratings, commercial law, and project development.

Current Work

CIG’s current program focuses on small island developing states (SIDS). It is initiating a portfolio of loans for similar sustainable infrastructure projects that will be aggregated under a single umbrella financing mechanism. The first iteration of this program will be a revolving fund supporting the SIDS’ desire to advance their clean energy transition via financing a portfolio of development and construction stage solar mini-grids with battery storage.  The pilot project for this program is in progress in a Pacific SIDS.

For more information contact us at:

Back to Top