• Is Sustainable Development Feasible?

    State of the Planet 2006

    Is Sustainable Development Feasible?

    State of the Planet 2006

    Keynote Speakers: Jeffrey D. Sachs (Columbia University), Mark Malloch Brown (United Nations), John Coomber (Swiss Re Group), and Peter Singer (Princeton University)Presented by the New York Academy of Sciences and The Earth Institute at Columbia University
    Reported by Christine Van Lenten | Posted August 22, 2006


    The question posed by The Earth Institute's fourth biennial State of the Planet conference, "Is sustainable development feasible?," evidently resonated forcefully among the burgeoning communities concerned with sustainable development issues: it drew more than 1300 people to Columbia University in March 2006 for a two-day, international, marathon event that featured twenty-four speakers, four of them keynoters, and five panel discussions.

    The fuller question is whether the following goals can be met together, as a set, over time: that conditions improve for the five-sixths of humanity that lacks the developed world's material advantages—and particularly for the roughly one billion people living in extreme poverty; that people in developed nations continue to enjoy material progress; that development be achieved without damaging the natural systems that sustain all life; and that these goals be met as the world's population—now 6.5 billion and projected to reach 9 billion by 2050—grows.

    Among the questions posed at this conference: How can research protect and provide resources for energy, water and biodiversity, particularly as they are affected by or contribute to climate change? What are the strengths and weaknesses of global governance in tackling issues of sustainable development? What are the strengths and limits of free market mechanisms versus government regulation in achieving sustainable development? Will societies, with all of their complex social, cultural and religious components, need to modify their behaviors to achieve sustainable development?

    Use the media tab above to find a meeting report, slides, and video. Speakers include:

    Jeffrey D. Sachs (The Earth Institute, Columbia University)
    Mark Malloch Brown (United Nations)
    John Coomber (Swiss Re Group)
    Peter Singer (Columbia University)
    Ismael Serageldin (Library of Alexandria in Egypt)
    Dato Lee Yee-Cheong (World Federation of Engineering Organisations)
    Tim Palmer (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecast)
    Steven E. Koonin (BP)
    Frank Rijsberman (International Water Management Institute)
    Carol Bellamy (World Learning)
    Jomo Kwame Sundaram (United Nations)
    Rajendra Pachauri (The Energy and Resources Institute)
    Eric V. Schaeffer (Environmental Integrity Project)
    George Kell (United Nations Global Compact)
    Abby Joseph Cohen (Golman Sachs & Co)
    Joseph Romm (Center for Energy and Climate Solutions)
    Stuart L. Hart (Cornell University)
    David J. Refkin (Time, Inc.)
    Amy Davidsen (JPMorgan Chase)
    Joel E. Cohen (Columbia University)
    Sir Partha Dasgupta (University of Cambridge)
    Johan Rockström (Stockholm Environment Institute)
    Parker Mitchell (Engineers Without Borders, Canada)
    Andrew P. Dobson (Princeton University)