Three Questions on Carbon Markets with Jimena Muzio

Before Jimena Muzio officially joined the ESI as a research associate this August, she was a student in a “Biodiversity and Cities” course that was co-instructed by ESI Director John Fernández during the Spring 2022 and 2023 semesters. She also served as an ESI Summer Fellow in 2023, where she traveled to Colombia to work on a Spanish report that aimed to provide urban development strategies to promote biodiversity conservation in the city of Quibdo and its surrounding areas. These findings were presented to national and local government authorities, research institutions, and civil society organizations. 

Currently, she is working on a research project focused on understanding the involvement of ethnic communities in the Colombian carbon market and its impact on advancing sustainable development goals and promoting climate justice.

To introduce Jimena, we asked her three questions about her work with carbon markets.

How have you applied what you’ve learned from your range of pre-ESI experiences — from working in Argentina’s non-profit and government sectors to serving as a research assistant at the MIT Center for Real Estate — to your research at the ESI?

My professional experience before coming to MIT, both at the non-profit and government sectors, taught me two important concepts when dealing with complex problems, particularly in the realm of governance and policy-making: resilience and robustness in analysis. 

Resilience in policy making is about creating policies and governance systems that can withstand shocks, adapt to changing circumstances, and continue to fulfill their objectives in the face of uncertainty. This becomes crucial when thinking about climate change and environmental challenges.

Similarly, I learnt that robust analyses are a crucial component of designing policies. By conducting a robust analysis, policymakers can enhance the quality of decision-making, improve the likelihood of successful policy outcomes, and build public trust through evidence-based and transparent practices.

What is something that you think everyone should know about carbon markets? 

One of my main takeaways of NYC Climate Week 2023 is that carbon markets alone cannot resolve the climate crisis, but they can indeed make a substantial contribution to them, provided the primary focus remains on decarbonizing our economy. In this sense, given the considerable costs associated with decarbonizing operations, ensuring the alignment between science and the real economy is imperative. Otherwise, companies will not invest in these efforts unless they can break even. This raises the question of what measures the public sector can take to provide the right incentives and support for decarbonizing real economy sectors.

What excites you most about your research moving forward?

I’m really excited about the future prospects of carbon markets projects with ethnic communities and the possibility of contributing to enhancing their potential to uplift and benefit these communities. I believe that by refining and improving their transparency, carbon markets can be effective mechanisms for biodiversity conservation and carbon emissions reductions while, at the same time, fostering equitable development.

To learn more about Jimena’s research, you can contact her at