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Sustainable Infrastructure and Energy

March 20, 2023

Project Green Swan, co-developed by Mehrnoosh Aryanpour SJD’25, has been named winner of the Lauder Institute’s 2023 Jacobson Global Venture Award.

Project Green Swan, developed by Mehrnoosh Aryanpour SJD’25, Masaki Goto, and Ilia Beloly, was recently named one of three winning projects of the Lauder Institute’s 2023 Jacobson Global Venture Award, which includes funding to support students’ work to launch their venture over the summer.

Masaki Goto, Mehrnoosh Aryanpour SJD'25, and Ilia Beloly (photo courtesy of the Lauder Institute) Masaki Goto, Mehrnoosh Aryanpour SJD’25, and Ilia Beloly (photo courtesy of the Lauder Institute)Earlier this year, 23 teams conducted 5-minute pitches to a panel of prominent entrepreneurs. Aryanpour and her team’s winning pitch for Project Green Swan proposed an investment platform focused on early-stage development opportunities in sustainable infrastructure and energy, with a geographical focus on emerging and economically fragile states.

Reflecting on her inspiration for the project, Aryanpour shared that “each of the team members is a young parent, and we have thought about what kind of world our children will inherit. Japan faces rising sea levels. Iran is running out of water and combatting desertification, chronic air pollution, and an inability to access clean technology. Russia is similar in these respects, as well.”

Complex markets receive fewer investment opportunities to launch clean energy and infrastructure projects. Aryanpour saw an urgent need for experienced professionals to mobilize financial and human capital to underwrite investments in infrastructure, renewables, and green tech projects in some of the world’s most economically and politically challenged countries.

Aryanpour’s background and experience informed the foundation of Project Green Swan. Her legal career includes working in Afghanistan, where she witnessed the challenges faced by foreigners in sustainable investment, and in Iran, where she opened the first branch of a major European law firm but had to divest from renewable and other energy projects due to the reimposition of economic sanctions.

“Project Green Swan was conceived from a simple but challenging question: what are today’s entrepreneurs and asset allocators doing to deploy funds into legally complex jurisdictions, which disproportionately bear the harmful effects of climate change yet have some of the highest potential for investment to impact mitigation strategies,” Aryanpour said.

Aryanpour’s work on Project Green Swan also extends her research and SJD thesis work at Penn Carey Law.

“I applied to Penn Carey Law with a thesis proposal to explore the nexus between climate change, broad sustainability, and economic sanctions regimes,” she said. “I had the opportunity to attend classes at The Wharton School and meet other students who were exploring my research questions from a business perspective, which brought a new depth to my academic research at Penn Carey Law.”

Aryanpour intends to complete her SJD program by 2025 under supervision of Shelley Welton, Presidential Distinguished Professor of Law and Energy Policy, and will continue to integrate her research into her work identifying and vetting project opportunities for Project Green Swan.

Aryanpour and her team will utilize the Jacobson Award funding to further refine their business plan and visit target countries to meet local policymakers and stakeholders.

Learn more about the SJD Program at Penn Carey Law.