This is the Big Five, the companion series to the podcast Water Talks, with five one-on-one interviews with some of the extraordinary speakers from the main episodes. This is a conversation with Rohit Aggarwala, the Chief Climate Officer of New York City and the commissioner of the city’s Department of Environmental Protection. He trained as a historian and worked as a journalist and as a consultant at McKinsey before going to work for the former Mayor Bloomberg as the head of the office of long-term Planning and Sustainability.
He is deeply invested in using storm protection measures to not just build walls, but to make the city a better place for the people who live there, to give the city what he calls ‘a livable waterfront’. I spoke with him about the city’s sewers, about making the city more resilient with measures ranging from seawalls to rain gardens, and about the water around New York, which has gotten so clean that there are even dolphins swimming in it. But we can’t yet eat the oysers that grow there.