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Maria Emilia ("Mila") Freire

Adjunct Lecturer, Latin American Studies Program


Dr. Maria Emilia (“Mila”) Freire is an Adjunct Lecturer at Johns Hopkins-SAIS, where she teaches urban economics, and an Independent International Consultant and former Senior Advisor to the World Bank with expertise in macroeconomics, public finance, decentralization, and urban economics.  She is an internationally recognized expert on urban economics and public finance, including sub-national finance, municipal finance and related reforms, and national and municipal levels.

Dr. Freire worked at the World Bank for more than twenty years.  Prior to her retirement, she held management and research positions as Senior Advisor to the Sustainable Development Vice-Presidency and Urban Anchor, Manager of the Urban Department in Latin America, and Director of the Urban Management Program at the World Bank Institute.  She has led major programs in Africa and Latin America on sub-national government reform, Housing and Urban Development, and advised teams in several countries including Argentina, India, Bangladesh, Mongolia, Burundi, Rwanda, Brazil, Argentina, Morocco, Egypt, and Peru.

Her main areas of interest in the last ten years have been decentralization, climate change, public finance, and urban economics.  She led the organization of four Urban Research Symposia and co-edited the proceedings of three of them.  She was a core member of the Word Development Report Reshaping Economic Geography (2008) and author/editor of main publications on (a) Urban land Markets (co-editor with S. Lall), (b) Sub-national Credit Markets (co-editor with J. Peterson) (c) Cities and Climate Change (together with D. Hoornweg) (d) Challenges and Issues of Urban Government (with R. Stren). She is also contributing to forthcoming books on Metropolitan Finance (R. Bahl and J. Linn eds., Lincoln Institute of Land Policy), Municipal Finance (Revenues and External Resources, with WBI), and Cities and Climate Change ( Towards a Partnership for Sustainable Cities, World Bank, Urban Anchor). Forthcoming articles in international journals include: “Recent Development in Sub-National Finance: How Local Governments in Other countries have dealt with the Financial Crisis” (in Municipal Finance Journal), and “Urbanization and Green Growth in Africa” (Growth Dialogue, George Washington University).

Dr. Freire holds a PhD in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley and graduate degrees from the Technical University in Lisbon, Portugal.  She is a member of the European Association of Regional Economics, the Advisory Board of the Center for African Cities, as well as the Advisory Board of the Global City Indicators Facility.
Fall 2016