GOVERNOR IGE NOMINATES AIMEE KELI‘I BARNES FOR STATE LAND BOARD
News Release from Office of the Governor, Jan 5, 2022
HONOLULU – Gov. David Ige has nominated Kailua resident Aimee Keliʻi Barnes to replace Dr. Samuel Gon III on the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR). Barnes’ nomination is subject to Hawaiʻi Senate approval, though she begins serving immediately.
Barnes is currently the principal of Hua Nani Partners, a small, woman-owned consulting practice that provides policy and strategy advice to nonprofit and philanthropic organizations focusing on climate change. She also serves as the Director of the Policy Lab at Elemental Excelerator, a non-profit that supports equitable climate innovation founded in Hawai’i in 2009.
“Aimee’s expertise on climate change issues was a major factor in her nomination to the BLNR,” Gov. Ige said. “As Hawai‘i faces significant challenges and opportunities in mitigating the impacts of climate change on our natural landscapes, having a person of Aimee’s background is extremely important to help inform decisions and policy making.”
Barnes is a nationally recognized expert on climate change. Previously, she was appointed by former California Gov. Jerry Brown as a member of his senior staff, leading implementation of his climate and environmental policy agenda. In this role she was responsible for California’s carbon neutrality executive order, described as “history’s most ambitious climate target” at its launch. Like Hawai‘i, California has a goal of carbon neutrality by 2045.
“Hawai‘i is a beacon of climate and sustainability leadership for the world. The BLNR has an important role to play in helping the state meet its ambitious climate goals, including through conservation of the state’s natural and working lands, which serve as a significant carbon sink,” Barnes said.
Barnes has also served as deputy secretary for Border and Intergovernmental Relations for the California Environmental Protection Agency.
Her work on environmental issues spans nearly 20 years in the non-profit and private sector, and internationally. Barnes earned her B.A. in Environmental Studies from Dartmouth College, where she was awarded a Mellon-Mays Fellowship to study Hawaiian environmentalism and cultural identity. She received her MPA in Environmental Science and Policy from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University.
Aimee’s father was raised in Nu‘uanu Valley and attended Kamehameha Schools. His family originates from Kapa‘a, Kaua‘i. Her maternal grandmother sailed to O‘ahu as a teenager on the Lurline and attended Roosevelt High School. Barnes noted, “My commitment to climate and sustainability issues is rooted in my love and respect for the natural world and my Hawaiian heritage. I am humbled and honored by the responsibility to serve on BLNR, and to bring my perspective on building a strong, sustainable economy in Hawai’i.”
Barnes’ term on the Land Board June 30, 2025. She is representing the 3rd Land District, which is the City and County of Honolulu.
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LINK: On-line bio with more partisan details
Previously, Aimee served as Senior Advisor to California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., where she helped launch the US Climate Alliance, led the 2018 Global Climate Action Summit, and was responsible for Executive Order B-55-18, committing California to carbon neutrality by 2045.
Prior to that, Aimee served as Deputy Secretary for Border and Intergovernmental Relations at the California Environmental Protection Agency, where she led the state’s partnerships with other jurisdictions, including China, Mexico, Japan, and the Netherlands. In the lead up to COP21, she helped launch the Under2 Coalition, a group of 200+ subnational governments committed to climate action. Before that, Aimee was a partner at Allotrope Partners, where she worked on clean energy projects and innovative climate finance in emerging markets.
Earlier in her career, Aimee worked for the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), helping launch their Directorate for Energy and Climate Change in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Prior to that, Aimee worked as an advisor to the UK Government in the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) Strategy Directorate, and as senior manager of US regulatory affairs for the global offset project developer EcoSecurities.
Aimee began her career at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in San Francisco. She has an MPA in Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), and a BA from Dartmouth College in Environmental Studies. She serves in advisory and board roles for Elemental Excelerator – a cleantech accelerator; and Independent Diplomat – an international nonprofit diplomatic advisory group. She is a Term Member with the Council on Foreign Relations, and was the 2018 recipient of the Government Leadership Award for DOE’s C3E Women’s Initiative.
Aimee’s political experience includes working on Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign, helping to draft her “Climate Plan for the People,” and on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, where she led the Bay Area Idealists4Hillary group.
IM: Aimee Keli`i Barnes Nominated to Serve on BLNR