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Is Sustainable Development Feasible?

Is Sustainable Development Feasible?
Reported by
Christine Van Lenten

Posted July 30, 2009

Presented By

New York Academy of Sciences and The Earth Institute at Columbia University


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)

Web Sites

The Earth Institute
Directed by Jeffrey D. Sachs, the Institute draws from talent throughout Columbia University to address complex issues facing the planet, including sustainable development and the needs of the poor. Toward solving real-world problems, the institute supports pioneering projects in the biological, engineering, social, and health sciences, and it promotes interdisciplinary projects. Among many richly informative pages, see State of the Planet 06, sustainable development, the Global Roundtable on Climate Change, and research programs. To subscribe to a free monthly e-newsletter, enter your email address on the Home Page.

Millennium Promise
This nonprofit's mission is to encourage individuals and organizations to join the fight against global poverty, disease, and hunger, in support of the UN's Millennium Development Goals.

Science and Development Network
SciDev.Net's value cannot be overstated. It covers science- and technology-related issues that impact the economic and social development of developing countries. Its "dossiers" are comprehensive sets of articles culled by advisory panels, on agri-biotech, biodiversity, brain drain, climate change, desertification, indigenous knowledge, malaria, R&D, and yet other subjects. Information is also organized regionally. Upcoming conferences around the world are listed (so are jobs), along with lots more. Subscribe to its free weekly e-newsletter by entering your email address on any page.

World Resources Institute
This nonprofit terms itself "an environmental think tank that goes beyond research to find practical ways to protect the earth and improve people's lives." Its agenda includes climate change, energy, transportation, and the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Its scientists, economists, policy experts, business analysts, statistical analysts, mapmakers, and communicators work with governments, the private sector, and civic organizations around the world. Its Web site repays the closest study: see, for example, its carefully researched publications and Earth Trends. Its cursory report on the 2006 State of the Planet conference is supplemented with valuable information.

Poverty and Development

Government and government-related organizations

United Nations
The UN houses many efforts focused on poverty, including UNICEF, Africa Recovery, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development. See, too,

Development Programme
UNDP helps developing countries attract and use aid effectively. Its Web site offers links to many publications on development and to full text of its Human Development Reports, which cover UNDP's work in 166 countries, from national, regional, and global perspectives.

UN-Habitat/Human Settlements Program
UN-Habitat is tackling the problems of slums, also called squatter communities. See its Global Campaign for Secure Tenure, its Slum Upgrading Facility project, its water and sanitation program, its sustainable cities program, and its 2005 global report, Financing Urban Shelter, which forecasts that by 2030, 3 billion people will need housing and basic infrastructure services.

Millennium Project
In 2002 the UN Secretary-General created this independent advisory body to develop an action plan to reverse the grinding poverty, hunger, and disease affecting billions of people. Headed by Jeffrey D. Sachs, the project presented its final recommendations, Investing in Development: A Practical Plan to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals, in January 2005. It will continue to operate in an advisory capacity through the end of 2006. Its Millennium Villages Project is demonstrating approaches to lifting two villages in Africa from poverty.

World Bank and International Monetary Fund
These major lenders and funders produce a blizzard of news releases and publications on subjects related to alleviating poverty and promoting economic development. See, for example, the Bank's web pages on the Millennium Development Goals and the IMF's 2006 report, Macroeconomic Challenges of Scaling Up Aid to Africa and its Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers.

World Health Organization
WHO's agenda includes a malaria campaign.

World Trade Organization — TRIPS
Information on trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights.

Non-governmental organizations

Accion International
Accion partners with microfinance organizations in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa to provide micro-loans and business training to help people work their way out of poverty.

Acumen Fund
An entrepreneurial approach to philanthropy for the developing world.

This organization invests in individuals as agents of social change.

Aspen Institute
The Institute attracts leading figures to its seminars, policy programs, conferences, and leadership development initiatives, and with international partners promotes nonpartisan inquiry into issues of central importance. Its Policy, Programs and Partnership page lists its subject areas, a number of which are germane to sustainable development. Its Ethical Globalization Initiative page links to a 2004 report, "America's Role in the Fight against Global Poverty."

Barefoot College
Based in India, the Barefoot College operates from the conviction that solutions to rural problems lie within the community. Helping the poorest of the poor acquire practical knowledge and skills, it addresses problems of drinking water, education for girls, health and sanitation, rural unemployment, income generation, electricity and power, social awareness, and conservation of local ecosystems.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
The foundation's ambitious Global Health campaign targets diseases in the developing world.

Brookings Institution
This leading think tank's Global Economy and Development Center applies a multidisciplinary approach to understanding opportunities and risks associated with the global economy. Its research projects are directly germane to the State of the Planet 06 conference.

Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research
CGIAR mobilizes agricultural science to benefit the poor. A strategic alliance of countries, international and regional organizations, and private foundations, it works with national agricultural research systems and other organizations, including the private sector. A tour of its Web site suggests how complicated this mission is.

Development Gateway
This foundation uses the Internet to share information that can promote development. Working with governments, international donors, and private local and global organizations, it focuses on areas where Internet processes can deliver high impact results, such as public procurement, aid fund management, aid coordination, and rapid exchange of lessons and best practices. The aim is to develop cost-effective solutions that can be easily replicated. See its interesting list of sponsors.

Disease Control Priorities Project
Initiated by the World Bank, this project assesses disease control priorities and produces evidence-based analysis and resource materials to inform health policymaking in developing countries. Its Web site offers extensive information, including technical resources that can help developing countries improve their health systems and the health of their citizens.

Grameen Foundation
A pioneer of microfinance, this foundation uses microfinance and innovative technology to fight global poverty and bring opportunities to the world's poorest people. With tiny loans and financial services, it helps the poor, mostly women, start businesses and escape poverty. Its global network of microfinance partners has reached nearly 1.5 million families in 22 countries.

Global Development Index
The Center for Global Development and the journal Foreign Policy compile a Commitment to Development Index that ranks 21 of the world's richest countries on the basis of what they do to further policies benefiting the world's poorest people. Criteria encompass far more than conventional monetary measures. Scholars at the center, the Brookings Institution, Georgetown University, and the Migration Policy Institute contribute. See its "Development" page, too.

International Food Policy Research Institute
The institute works to identify and analyze policies for sustainably meeting the developing world's food needs. Research concentrates on economic growth and poverty alleviation, improvement of the well being of poor people, and sound management of the natural resource base that supports agriculture. Along with making the results of its research widely available, the institute works to strengthen institutions in developing countries that conduct research relevant to its mandate.

International Rice Research Institute
This nonprofit agricultural research and training center works to help farmers in developing nations produce more food, for a growing population, on limited land, using less water, less labor, and fewer chemical inputs. Adapting rice cultivation to climate change is one challenge.

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
The school's Center for Communication Programs envisions a world in which communication saves lives, improves health, and enhances well being. It partners with organizations worldwide to design and implement strategic communication programs that influence political dialogue, collective action, and individual behavior; enhance access to information and the exchange of knowledge; and conduct research to guide program design, evaluate impact, test theories, and advance knowledge in health communication.
Internet-based, this nonprofit brings together more than 1600 organizations around the globe to promote sustainable development, social justice, and human rights.

Oxfam International
This confederation of 12 organizations works with over 3000 partners in more than 100 countries to find lasting solutions to poverty, suffering, and injustice. See its Global Call to Action Against Poverty campaign.

Rockefeller Foundation
Africa is one focus area. See the March 31, 2006, news release, , and the study itself.

Shack/Slum Dwellers International
Click through "Rituals" for a vivid glimpse of what this "loose network of people's organizations" in 23 countries is trying to accomplish as an alternative to "centralised state power, backed by ... the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank."

The Hunger Project
This nonprofit works to end chronic hunger, with a focus on empowering women in more than 10,000 villages across 13 countries of South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.

Third World Academy of Sciences
"The academy of sciences for the developing world," TWAS promotes scientific capacity and excellence for sustainable development in the South.

Water Advocates
Increasing U.S. public and private funding for drinking-water and sanitation systems internationally is the goal of this nonprofit, which does not itself operate projects but offers links to organizations that do.

Human Impacts on the Environment

Government and government-related organizations

International Energy Association
This mainstream organization's Home Page announces its commitment to sustainability, and its flagship publication, World Energy Outlook, includes data on carbon emissions. See, too, a 2006 fact sheet on renewable energy, and the Web site of an IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme, which in turn links to a site dedicated to the subject of CO2 capture and storage.

NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
This interdisciplinary program is also a unit of Columbia University's Earth Institute. Among its objectives is prediction of atmospheric and climate changes. Research combines analysis of comprehensive global data sets, derived mainly from spacecraft observations, with global models of atmospheric, land surface, and oceanic processes. Its Web site offers abundant information, and links to more.

National Academies of Science
The National Academies have established a Science and Technology for Sustainability Program to encourage the use of science and technology to achieve long-term sustainable development. Its Marian Koshland Science Museum Web site offers a primer on climate change.

United Nations

Commission on Sustainable Development
CSD was created to ensure effective follow-up to the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (the Earth Summit), in Rio de Janeiro, where world leaders signed the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity; endorsed the Rio Declaration and the Forest Principles; and adopted Agenda 21, a plan for achieving sustainable development in the 21st century.

Convention on Biological Diversity
The Convention promotes sustainable development. It recognizes that biodiversity concerns not only plants, animals, microorganisms, and ecosystems, but people and their need for food security, medicines, fresh air and water, shelter, and a clean and healthy environment.

Convention to Combat Desertification
Desertification is the loss of land's biological productivity due to human-induced factors and climate change. It affects one third of Earth's surface and over a billion people, with potentially devastating social and economic costs.

Framework Convention on Climate Change
This Web site provides full text of the Kyoto Protocol and discussion of its implementation.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Established by the World Health Organization and the UN Environment Programme, the IPCC assesses scientific, technical, and socioeconomic information relevant to understanding climate change, its potential impacts, and options for adaptation and mitigation. Assessments are based mainly on peer-reviewed, published scientific and technical literature.

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
The UN launched this program in 2001 "to meet the needs of decision makers and the public for scientific information concerning the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being and options for responding to those changes." Over 1400 scientists from 95 countries contributed to it. Their findings are being released in stages. Its March 2005 report was an alarming newsmaker; other reports have followed. Its Web site is loaded with valuable information.

U.S. Department of Energy
This web site offers links to many sources of information related to energy.

Non-governmental organizations

Alliance for Zero Extinction
This alliance of biodiversity conservation organizations aims to prevent extinctions by identifying and safeguarding key sites where species are in imminent danger of disappearing. See the maps on its Web site.

Carbon Mitigation Group
Based at Princeton University, this initiative is a joint venture with BP and Ford Motor Company. The Web site features Pacala and Socolow's much-discussed paper on stabilization wedges.

Earth Policy Institute
Founded by Lester Brown, EPI provides "a vision of an environmentally sustainable economy—an eco-economy—as well as a roadmap of how to get from here to there." See in particular its extensive Eco-Economy Indicators and Updates, which track trends that affect progress toward an eco-economy, and Brown's 2006 book, Plan B 2.0: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble.

Evangelical Climate Initiative
This organization's "statement" presents a clear, powerful case for action.

Global Footprint Network
The Network's Ecological Footprint is "a measurement and management tool that makes the reality of planetary limits relevant to decision-makers around the world."

Greatest Engineering Achievements of the 20th Century
Adapted from a book initiated by the National Academy of Engineering, this fascinating Web site chronicles the inexorable advance of technologies that, in some cases, were blindly embraced without a thought to their consequences. See, for example, the timelines for the automobile and petroleum.

Interfaith Council for Environmental Stewardship
The council approaches environmental issues through a religious lens. Its 1999 Cornwall Declaration on Environmental Stewardship is designed to spark debate on critical issues.

Natural Resources Defense Council
This leading environmental organization offers information on many issues and a free environmental newsletter.

Pew Center on Global Climate Change
The Center provides a forum for research and analysis on climate change and for development of policies and solutions. Its Web site is a rich source of information on the scientific and policy dimensions of global warming, as well as actions underway at the federal and state levels and within the business community.

This blog is devoted to "climate science from climate scientists."

Redefining Progress
This nonprofit works with partners to shift the economy and public policy toward sustainability. Its Genuine Progress Indicator and Ecological Footprint Analysis measure the actual state of the economy, the environment, and social justice. See its programs on sustainability, too.

Stop Global Warming
A citizen's based "virtual march" to "use our collective voices to demand that governments, corporations, and politicians take the steps necessary to stop global warming."

4th World Water Forum
The Forum is an initiative of the World Water Council intended to raise awareness of water issues and influence policy-making, toward pursuit of sustainable development. The fourth forum was held in Mexico City in March 2006. Extensive documents related to that event are posted on its Web site. See, too, Beyond More Crop per Drop, prepared for the forum by the International Water Management Institute and its partners

World Conservation Union
The Union builds recognition of the many ways in which human lives and livelihoods, especially of the poor, depend on the sustainable management of natural resources. Its Red List is a comprehensive inventory of the status of plant and animal species, and thus an index of biological diversity.

Yale Project on Climate Change
Sponsored by Yale University's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, this new project aims to close the gap between science and action by facilitating dialogue across a wide array of stakeholders. See its remarkably comprehensive, downloadable 2006 report, "Americans and Climate Change" and its action items.

The business community

Carbon Disclosure Project
Institutional investors ask leading corporations to disclose their carbon emissions every year. Replies are compiled on this Web site. The February 2006 query came from 211 investors who together control $31 trillion in assets.

Ceres works with many U.S. and international investors, environmental groups, and corporations to address global climate change and to promote global corporate accountability for businesses' social and environmental impacts. See its January 2006 climate risk toolkit for corporate leaders, produced with the Investor Network on Climate Risk (listed under "Business," below).

Equator Principles
Leading banks have adopted voluntary guidelines for managing social and environmental issues related to financing development projects. The banks apply the principles globally and to project financing in all industry sectors, including mining, oil and gas, and forestry, for projects that exceed $10 million.

Global Reporting Initiative
Launched in 1997 by CERES (see above), the initiative sets an international standard for corporate reporting on the "triple bottom line" of economic, social, and environmental performance. GRI is now an independent international institution; over 640 companies participate. It formally partners with the UN Environment Programme and the UN Global Compact.

Innovest Strategic Value Advisors
This investment research and advisory firm analyzes corporate performance on environmental, social, and strategic governance issues, with a focus on competitiveness, profitability, and share price performance. Its review of clean finance and energy technology concludes that "few environmental issues pose as real, significant, and far-reaching a financial threat to institutional investors as climate change."

Investor Network on Climate Risk
INCR is a network of institutional investors and financial institutions dedicated to promoting better understanding of the financial risks and investment opportunities posed by climate change. Launched at the UN in 2003, it now includes more than 50 institutional investors that collectively manage over $3 trillion in assets. Members engage companies and policy makers through educational forums, shareholder resolutions, and other actions to ensure the long-term health of their investments.

Pew Business Environmental Leadership Council
This worldwide group of 41 leading companies representing $2 trillion in market capitalization is responding to the challenges posed by climate change, by reducing carbon emissions and investing in new, more efficient products, practices, and technologies. They believe that taking early action on climate strategies and policy will yield a competitive advantage. Sectors include high tech, diversified manufacturing, oil and gas, transportation, utilities, and chemicals.

Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century
REN21, a global policy network, provides a forum for international leadership on renewable energy and works to bolster policy development and decision making at all levels, toward rapid expansion of renewable energies in developing and industrial countries.

The Climate Group
This independent nonprofit works to advance business and government leadership on climate change. Based in the UK, the United States, and Australia, it operates internationally. Its Web site offers valuable case studies and interviews, including an interview with State of the Planet 06 keynoter John Coomber, who serves on its board of trustees and leadership council.

World Business Council for Sustainable Development
The Council brings together some 180 international companies that share a commitment to sustainable development through economic growth, ecological balance, and social progress. Its Energy and Climate Project is a major focus. Members are drawn from more than 30 countries and 20 major industrial sectors.

Publications & Media

Poverty and Development

Blair, Tony. 2006. International Policies for the 21st Century. (May 26).
See the webcast of this major talk given at Georgetown University. It touched on many State of the Planet 06 concerns.

Davis, M. 2004. Planet of slums. New Left Review. (April).
A radical critique of mainstream views, with extensive footnotes. Davis has also recently published a book on the subject.

Du, L. 2005. Climate change 'to hit health in poor nations hardest.' SciDev.Net (November 17).
This article reports on, and links to, an article in Nature (subscription required).

Gladwell, M. 2006. Million-Dollar Murray: homelessness and the power-law paradox. The New Yorker (Feb. 13 & 20).
A provocative look at how small interventions can have a disproportionate impact.

Hinrichsen, D., R. Salem, & R. Blackburn. 2002. Meeting the Urban Challenge. Population Reports, Series M, No. 16. Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Population Information Program.
An examination of the urbanization of the developing world, particularly of its poorest citizens.

Hua, V. 2004. Small loans, big dreams: microfinance projects enrich life in poor nations. San Francisco Chronicle (July 3).

In India, the Path to Growth Hits Roadblock: Slums. The Wall Street Journal (March 17, 2006).

Lloyd, C. 2005. Shacking up: shantytowns are a practical response to a world ruled by speculative real estate. SF Gate (June 17).
A fine interview with Robert Neuwirth, author of Shadow Cities (see below).

National Research Council. 2006. Linking Knowledge with Action for Sustainable Development: The Role of Program Management — Summary of a Workshop.
This report summarizes a workshop organized by the National Academies Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability.

Neuwirth, R. 2004. Shadow Cities: A Billion Squatters, A New Urban World. Routledge, New York.
A report from the field. Googling the author and his book can lead to rewarding articles on his subject.

Prahalad, C. K. 2004. AmazonThe Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid. 2004. Wharton School Publishing.
An influential book derived from a paper that Prahalad wrote with Stuart Hart.

Rice, S. E. 2006. The threat of global poverty. The National Interest (Spring).
The author contends that global poverty threatens U.S. national security.

Runge, C. F., B. Senauer, P. G. Pardey & M. W. Rosegrant. 2003. Ending Hunger in Our Lifetime, Food Security and Globalization. International Food Policy Research Institute. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.

Sachs, J. D., A. Teklehaimanot, & G. McCord. 2005. The cost of making the poor pay. SciDev.Net (October 31).
Why not just give poor people at risk of contracting malaria preventative tools and treatment?

Sharma, K. Undated. In a city like Mumbai. Our Planet.
A vivid account.

Slum growth shames the world. BBC News. (October 6, 2003).

Smith, S. 2005. Ending Global Poverty: A Guide to What Works. Palgrave Macmillan, New York.

The hidden wealth of the poor: a survey of microfinance. The Economist (November 5, 2005).
Special section of The Economist.

Human Impacts on the Environment

An Inconvenient Truth
Al Gore's 2006 movie and book. Information can be found on the Web site of Alliance for Climate Protection, along with suggestions for action that citizens can take.

Barnett, T. P., J. C. Adam & D. P. Lettenmaier. 2005. Potential impacts of a warming climate on water availability in snow-dominated regions. Nature 438: 303-309.

Climate Change — Breaking the Ice. 2006. Science Magazine (March 24).
A special online issue.

Climate Change Futures: Health, Ecological and Economic Dimensions. 2005. Published by the Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard Medical School, with support from Swiss Re and UNDP.
This study finds that climate change will significantly affect the health of humans and ecosystems, with economic consequences.

Costanza, R. & S. E. Jørgensen, Eds. 2002. Understanding and Solving Environmental Problems in the 21st Century: Toward a New, Integrated Hard Problem Science. Elsevier, New York.
Ecological economics in action.

Crossroads for Planet Earth. 2005. Scientific American (September).
A blockbuster special issue directly relevant to State of Planet 06.

Daly, H. E. Beyond Growth: The Economics of Sustainable Development. 1997. Beacon Press, Boston, MA.
By one of the fathers of the field of ecological economics.

Dimming the Sun. Nova (April 18, 2006).
A skillful, alarming documentary on PBS.

Earth and Sky Radio Series
This nonprofit organization reported on the 2006 State of the Planet conference and interviewed some conference speakers. Text and audio of those interviews is posted on its Web site. And see its Special Report: Human World.

Flannery, T. The Weather Makers. 2006.
A Web site devoted to this book about the urgent problems posed by climate change offers supplemental information, too.

Grist Magazine
This treasure of a daily newsletter reports on breaking news about the environment and sustainability. The content is rock-solid and often wicked funny.

Island Press
This highly regarded publisher aims to help solve environmental problems by providing peer-reviewed information via books, electronic media, and outreach to scientists, policymakers, the news media, and the general public. It publishes approximately 40 new titles a year. Topics range from biodiversity and land use to forest management, agriculture, marine science, climate change, and energy.

Kolbert, E. 2006. Field Notes from a Catastrophe. Bloomsbury USA, New York.
An examination of climate change, this book originated as a three-part series in The New Yorker.

Lloyd's. 2006. Lloyd's urges insurers to take climate change seriously or risk being swept away. (June 5)
This news release announces a new Lloyd's report, Climate Change: Adapt or Bust (PDF, 627 KB), which is part of the company's 360 Risk Project. The first sentence in the report says,

If the sea level were to rise just 4 metres due to climate change, almost every coastal city in the world would be inundated.

And it goes on from there.

Meadows, D. H., J. Randers & D. L. Meadows. 2004. Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update. Chelsea Green Publishing Company, White River Junction, VT.
A comprehensive look at sustainability indices.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers. April 10, 2006. Six Trends Will Drive Sustainable Development, According to PricewaterhouseCoopers.
A capsule view.

U.S. Government Accountability Office. 2005. 21st Century Challenges: Reexamining the Base of the Federal Government.
Scroll down for the PDF file and see the chapter "Natural Resources, Energy, and the Environment," which on page 48 (PDF page 51) says,

[T]he broad, long-term challenge is determining how the nation can reconcile the desire for consumption today with the need to protect resources to sustain the future.

That chapter poses its own provocative set of open questions.

Shinn, A. 2006. Internet visionaries betting on green technology boom: vast market, huge profit potential beckon investors. The Washington Post (April 18).

Talbot, D. 2006. Needed: an "Apollo Program" for energy. MIT Technology Review (April 20).
An interview with NYU's Marty Hoffert.

The Great Warming
A film about climate change, funded partly by Swiss Re. The Web site includes links to other sources of information.

The logging trade. 2006. The Economist (March 23).

Worldwatch Institute
The Institute's publications blend interdisciplinary research, global focus, and accessible writing on interactions among key environmental, social, and economic trends. Its work centers on the transition to an environmentally sustainable and socially just society—and how to achieve it.

Keynote Speakers

Jeffrey D. Sachs

Columbia University
The Earth Institute
Department of Economics
School of International & Public Affairs
email | web site | publications

Jeffrey D. Sachs is director of The Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and professor of health policy and management at Columbia University. He is also director of the UN Millennium Project and Special Advisor to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the Millennium Development Goals, the internationally agreed goals to reduce extreme poverty, disease and hunger by the year 2015. Sachs is renowned for advising governments in Latin America, Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, Asia and Africa on economic reforms and for his work with international agencies to promote poverty reduction, disease control and debt reduction of poor countries. In 2004 and 2005 he was named among the 100 most influential leaders in the world by Time magazine, and is the 2005 recipient of the Sargent Shriver Award for Equal Justice. He is author of hundreds of scholarly articles and many books. Sachs was recently elected into the Institute of Medicine and is a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. Prior to joining Columbia, Sachs spent more than twenty years at Harvard University, most recently as Director of the Center for International Development. A native of Detroit, Michigan, Sachs received his BA, MA, and PhD degrees at Harvard University.

Mark Malloch Brown

United Nations
email | web site

Mark Malloch Brown is Chef de Cabinet of the United Nations. Prior to this role, Malloch Brown served as the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) from July 1999 to August 2005. During his tenure at UNDP, he oversaw a comprehensive reform effort that has been widely recognized as making the agency more efficient and effective across 166 member countries where it operates. In addition to his role at UNDP, he was also the chair of the United Nations Development Group, a committee consisting of the heads of all UN funds, programs and departments working on development issues. Prior to his work at the UN, he served at the World Bank as vice president of external affairs and vice president of United Nations Affairs from 1996 to 1999. He joined the World Bank as director of external affairs in 1994. In 1997, he chaired the United Nations Secretary-General's task force on the reform of United Nations communications. Malloch Brown was the lead international partner from 1986 to 1994 at a strategic communications management firm, the Sawyer-Miller Group. From 1977 to 1979, he was a political correspondent for The Economist, and from 1979 to 1983, he worked for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). A British citizen, Malloch Brown received a First Class Honours Degree in history from Magdalene College at Cambridge University and a master's degree in political science from the University of Michigan.

John Coomber

Swiss Re Group
email | web site

John Coomber, former CEO of Swiss Re Group from 2003 to 2005, will be proposed for election to the Board of Directors at the company's Extraordinary General Meeting in February 2006. Coomber, a British citizen born in 1949, graduated in theoretical mechanics from Nottingham University in 1970. He started his career with the Phoenix Insurance Company and joined Swiss Re in 1973. Having qualified as an actuary in 1974, he first specialized in life reinsurance and went on to become appointed actuary from 1983 to 1990 for Swiss Re (UK). In 1987 he assumed responsibility for the life division, and in 1993, was made head of the company's UK operations. He became a member of the Executive Board in April 1995, responsible for the Group's Life & Health division. In June 2000, he became a member of the Executive Board Committee. Coomber also serves as a member of the Supervisory Board of Euler Hermes.

Peter Singer

Princeton University
University Center for Human Values
email | web site | publications

Peter Singer is the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University, a position he has held since 1999. He was educated at the University of Melbourne and the University of Oxford and has taught at the University of Oxford, La Trobe University and Monash University. Singer was the founding President of the International Association of Bioethics and, with Helga Kuhse, founding co-editor of the journal Bioethics. Singer first became internationally known after the publication of Animal Liberation in 1975. His other books include Practical Ethics, How Are We to Live?, Rethinking Life and Death, One World and The President of Good and Evil, and his next work, The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter, will be published in May.


Research & Ingenuity

Ismail Serageldin

Library of Alexandria in Egypt
email | web site | publications

Ismail Serageldin is the director of the Library of Alexandria in Egypt. He chairs the Boards of Directors for each affiliated research institutes and museums and is a distinguished professor at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. He serves as chair and member of a number of advisory committees for academic, research, scientific and international institutions and civil society efforts, including the Institut d'Egypte (Egyptian Academy of Science), Third World Academy of Sciences, the Indian National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, and the European Academy of Sciences and Arts. He is former chairman of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (1994–2000) as well as founder and former chairman of the Global Water Partnership (1996–2000) and the Consultative Group to Assist the Poorest, a microfinance program (1995–2000). Serageldin has also served as vice president for Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development (1992–1998), and for Special Programs (1998–2000) at the World Bank. He has published over 50 books and monographs and over 200 papers on a variety of topics including biotechnology, rural development, sustainability and the value of science to society. He holds a Bachelor of Science in engineering from Cairo University and a master's degree and a PhD from Harvard University. He has received 18 honorary doctorates.

Dato Lee Yee-Cheong

World Federation of Engineering Organisations

Dato Lee Yee-Cheong was president of the World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO) 2003–2005, and vice president of the Academy of Sciences of Malaysia. He is chairman of the board of the ASEAN Council of Academies of Science, Engineering and Technology (ASEAN-CASE). He was a founding member 2001–2005 of the board of the Inter-Academy Council of World Science Academies and a member of the Academic Council of the World Economic Forum. In 2002, Yee-Cheong led WFEO in the ICSU/WFEO joint initiative at the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. He participated in the UN high level "ICT for Development" Roundtables during the UN Summit General Assembly, September 2005, and the World Summit on Information Society, Tunis, November 2005, that led to the formation of the Global ICT Alliance. Yee-Cheong was a co-coordinator of the UN Millennium Project "Science, Technology and Innovation" Task Force, 2002–2005. He is a member of the Energy Commission Malaysia and serves as director of UMW Holdings Berhad, the Malaysia partner of Toyota Motor, Japan. Yee-Cheong has received several Malaysian and Australian awards and is an honorary fellow at several national engineering organizations including the Institution of Engineers Malaysia, the Institution of Civil Engineers UK, the Institution of Electrical Engineers UK, and the Institution of Engineers, Australia. He is a patron of the International Young Professionals Foundation and a foreign fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. He is founding president of the ASEAN Academy of Engineering and Technology and is a member of the National Economic and Social Council, Kenya.

Tim Palmer

European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecast
Probability Forecast Division
email | web site | publications

Tim Palmer is head of the Probability and Seasonal Forecasting Division at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts based in the United Kingdom. He is also currently chairman of the Scientific Steering Group of the UN World Meteorological Organization's Climate Variability and Predictability Project, and was lead author of the most recent assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He is on a number of external advisory committees for climate institutes and programs worldwide and is a Fellow of the Royal Society and of the American Meteorological Society. Palmer's early research was in general relativity theory—his academic grandfather was Paul A.M. Dirac—but most of his recent professional research is on the predictability of weather and climate, and he has published extensively on both theoretical and practical perspectives. Palmer has also helped apply nonlinear mathematical methods to understanding non-trivial aspects of global warming and has served as coordinator of a major European Union project applying seasonal-to-interannual climate prediction to the practical problems of forecasting malaria incidence and crop yield a season or more in advance. Palmer received his PhD in theoretical physics from Oxford University.

Steven E. Koonin
email | web site | publications

Steven E. Koonin has served as chief scientist of BP, the world's second largest independent oil company, since 2004. BP refines and markets petroleum products in more than 100 countries and serves more than 13 million customers each day. As chief scientist, Koonin is responsible for BP's long-range technology plans and activities, particularly those "beyond petroleum." He also has purview over BP's major university research programs around the world and provides technical advice to the company's senior executives. In 1975, he joined the faculty of Caltech, became a full professor in 1981, and served as Provost from 1995 to 2004. Koonin is a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission. He has served on numerous advisory bodies for the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the Department of Energy and its various national laboratories. His research interests have included theoretical nuclear, many-body, and computational physics, nuclear astrophysics, and global environmental science. Koonin received his BS in physics at Caltech and his PhD in theoretical physics from M.I.T.

Frank Rijsberman

International Water Management Institute
email | web site | publications

Frank Rijsberman has been director general of the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), an international research center supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, since 2000. He is also a professor at the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education in Delft and at Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands. Rijsberman earned his PhD in water resources planning and management from Colorado State University. He has 25 years of experience in natural resources planning and research for fresh water resources, coastal zones, soil erosion and environmental management.

Developing Effective Institutional Structures

Carol Bellamy

World Learning
email | web site | publications

Carol Bellamy is CEO of World Learning, which promotes international and intercultural understanding, democracy, social justice and economic development in more than 100 countries on five continents, as well as president of the School for International Training. Previously, she was executive director of UNICEF, where she stepped up the agency's work in emergencies, doubled its funding, put the issues of child exploitation on the global agenda, and fought for health, protection and education as fundamental rights of every child. Bellamy also served as director of the United States Peace Corps and had a distinguished career in the private sector as managing director of Bear Stearns & Co. from 1990 to 1993, and as a principal at Morgan Stanley and Co. from 1986 to 1990. Between 1968 and 1971 she was an associate at Cravath, Swaine and Moore. Bellamy also spent 13 years as an elected public official, including five years in the New York State Senate (1973–1977). In 1978, she became the first woman elected president of the New York City Council, a position she held until 1985. Bellamy earned her law degree from New York University in 1968. She is a former fellow of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and an honorary member of Phi Alpha Alpha, the U.S. National Honor Society for Accomplishment and Scholarship in Public Affairs and Administration.

Jomo Kwame Sundaram

United Nations
Department of Economic and Social Affairs
email | web site | publications

Jomo Kwame Sundaram is assistant secretary general for economic development in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the UN. He was visiting senior research fellow at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, founding chair of International Development Economics Associates, and professor in the applied economics department, University of Malaya, until 2004. He was born in Penang, Malaysia and studied at the Penang Free School, Royal Military College, Yale University and Harvard University. He has taught at Science University of Malaysia, Harvard University, Yale University, National University of Malaysia, University of Malaya, and Cornell University. He has also been a visiting fellow at Cambridge University. Jomo has authored more than 35 monographs, edited more than 50 books, and translated 11 volumes, in addition to writing many academic papers and articles for the media. He is also on the editorial boards of several journals.

Rajendra K. Pachauri

The Energy and Resources Institute
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Rajendra K. Pachauri is director-general for The Energy and Resources Institute, which conducts research and provides professional support in the areas of energy, environment, forestry, biotechnology and the conservation of natural resources. Prior to this, Pachauri held managerial positions with the Diesel Locomotive works in Varanasi, and served as assistant professor and visiting faculty member in the Department of Economics and Business at North Carolina State University. In 2002, he was elected Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and in 2001, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the president of India for his contributions to the environment. Pachauri taught at Yale University's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in 2000 as a McCluskey Fellow. In 1999, he was appointed by Japan to the Board of Directors of the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, Environment Agency. He is also president of the India Habitat Centre. Pachauri has sat on various international and national committees and boards, including the International Solar Energy Society, the World Resources Institute Council, the International Association for Energy Economics, and the Asian Energy Institute. He has also contributed to the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India; the Panel of Eminent Persons on Power, the Ministry of Power; Delhi Vision – Core Planning Group; the Advisory Board on Energy, reporting directly to the prime minister; the National Environmental Council, under the chairmanship of the prime minister; and the Oil Industry Restructuring Group, 'R' Group. Pachauri earned an M.S. in industrial engineering, a PhD in industrial engineering, and a PhD in economics from North Carolina State University.

Eric V. Schaeffer

Environmental Integrity Project
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Eric V. Schaeffer is director of the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), a non-profit public interest group dedicated to improving enforcement of U.S. environmental laws. Through a combination of advocacy and original research, EIP has helped to focus public attention on chronic violations at refineries, power plants, municipal wastewater treatment plants and other facilities. EIP also helps communities review permits and file their own enforcement actions when necessary. Schaeffer previously served as director of the Office of Regulatory Enforcement for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from 1997 to 2002. Under his supervision, the EPA reached global settlements with more than 30 refineries that together account for nearly one third of U.S. refining capacity. Prior to joining the EPA in 1990, Schaeffer practiced law at a private firm and served as a legislative aide to several members of Congress. Schaeffer was awarded the Justice Department's John Marshall Award in 2001 in recognition of the critical role he played in developing and managing the refinery initiative. He is also a recipient of the Presidential Rank Award recognizing his outstanding achievement as a member of the senior executive service. Mr. Schaeffer received his law degree from Georgetown University in 1997, and graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1976.

Georg Kell

United Nations Global Compact
email | web site | publications

Georg Kell is the executive head of the United Nations Global Compact, the world's largest voluntary corporate citizenship initiative with more than 2,400 participants from more than 80 countries. Following extensive experiences in Africa and Asia as a financial analyst, Kell began his career at the UN in Geneva, where he worked from 1987 to 1990 with the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). In 1990, he joined the New York office of UNCTAD, which he headed from 1993 to 1997. In 1997, Kell became a senior officer in the Executive Office of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, responsible for fostering cooperation with the private sector. He has served as head of the UN Global Compact since 2000. A native of Germany, Kell holds advanced degrees in economics and engineering from the Technical University of Berlin.

Tapping into Market Forces and the Economy

Abby Joseph Cohen

Goldman, Sachs & Co.

Abby Joseph Cohen is a partner and chief U.S. investment strategist at Goldman, Sachs & Co. She also serves on the firm's Partnership Committee, Investment Retirement Committee, and on the board of Pine Street, which is charged with management and leadership development. Prior to joining Goldman Sachs in 1990, she held similar responsibilities at Drexel Burnham Lambert and was an economist and quantitative analyst with T. Rowe Price Associates. She has been recognized for more than a decade as a leader in U.S. portfolio strategy by Institutional Investor Magazine and Greenwich Associates. Cohen has been honored by many groups, including the Financial Women's Association and the New York Stock Exchange and is a member of the Wall Street Week Hall of Fame. She is also a Trustee of Cornell University and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and serves on the Board of Overseers of the Weill Medical College of Cornell. She previously served on the board and as chair of the Association of Investment Management and Research, now known as the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute, from which she received the Distinguished Service Award. Cohen also serves on the investment committees of the Museum of Modern Art and Cornell University and is on the board of the Council for Excellence in Government and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She holds degrees in economics from Cornell and George Washington University and has also received three honorary doctorates in engineering and humane letters.

Joseph Romm

email | web site | publications

Joseph Romm is executive director of the Center for Energy and Climate Solutions—a one-stop shop helping businesses and states adopt high-leverage strategies for saving energy and cutting pollution. He is author of the National Commission on Energy Policy's report, "The Car and Fuel of the Future," (July 2004) and the book, The Hype About Hydrogen: Fact and Fiction in the Race to Save the Climate, named one of the best science and technology books of 2004 by Library Journal. Romm served as acting assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy during 1997 and principal deputy assistant secretary from 1995 though 1998. He helped manage the largest program in the world for working with businesses to develop and use advanced transportation and clean energy technologies—one billion dollars aimed at hybrid vehicles, electric batteries, hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, renewable energy, distributed generation, energy efficiency, and biofuels. He has written and lectured widely on advanced transportation technologies, clean energy, business, and environmental issues, including articles in Technology Review, Issues in Science and Technology, Forbes, Foreign Affairs, The New York Times, the L.A. Times, Houston Chronicle, The Washington Post, Science, and Scientific American. He co-authored "MidEast Oil Forever," the cover story of the April 1996 issue of the Atlantic Monthly, which predicted higher oil prices within a decade and discussed alternative energy strategies. He holds a PhD in physics from M.I.T.

Stuart L. Hart

Cornell University
Johnson Graduate School of Management
email | web site | publications

Stuart L. Hart is the S.C. Johnson Chair of Sustainable Global Enterprise and professor of management at Cornell University's Johnson School of Management. Before joining Cornell in 2003, he was the Hans Zulliger Distinguished Professor of Sustainable Enterprise and professor of strategic management at the University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler Business School, where he founded the Center for Sustainable Enterprise and the Base of the Pyramid Learning Laboratory. Previously, he taught corporate strategy at the University of Michigan Business School and was the founding director of the Corporate Environmental Management Program. Hart has published more than 50 papers, including "Beyond Greening: Strategies for a Sustainable World," which won the McKinsey Award as the best article in Harvard Business Review for 1997 and helped launch the movement for corporate sustainability. He also co-wrote The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid (with C. K. Prahalad in 2002), which provided the first articulation of how business could profitably serve the needs of the developing world. He has also authored or edited five books including his new book Capitalism at the Crossroads, which was published in 2005. In 1999, Hart was recognized as a Faculty Pioneer by the World Resources Institute for work in integrating environmental and social issues into the management education curriculum. In 2002, he received the Gerald Barrett Faculty Award by the Kenan-Flagler Business School as the faculty member who made the greatest contribution to the MBA program through teaching and service.

David J. Refkin

Time, Inc.

David J. Refkin is director of sustainable development at Time Inc., overseeing the company's environmental and sustainable development activities. In particular, he focuses on forestry, including Time Inc.'s Certified Sustainable Forestry Program, recycling, global climate change and on promoting the economic, environmental and social responsibility components of sustainable development throughout the company. He also represents Time Warner as its liaison delegate on the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and is currently Time Inc.'s representative on the Paper Working Group, a group of 20 companies promoting the availability of environmentally preferable paper. Refkin serves on the board of trustees of the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment and is also a member of the board of directors of the National Recycling Coalition. Refkin is a CPA, has a BS in accounting from the State University of New York at Albany, an MBA in finance from Iona College, and attended the Strategic Environmental Management Program at New York University.

Amy Davidsen

JPMorgan Chase
email | web site

Amy Davidsen is director of the JPMorgan Chase Office of Environmental Affairs, which was created in 2004 to establish global policies and procedures regarding environmental issues and to increase the company's focus on the environment. The office also guides the firm's use of resources and the management of environmental issues related to global business activities. Davidsen has nearly 20 years of banking experience, most recently as part of Global Philanthropic Services for JPMorgan's Private Bank. Her particular areas of expertise included advising global clients on philanthropic efforts directed toward the environment, micro-credit, human rights and venture philanthropy. Davidsen has held positions auditing the firm's international loan portfolio, managing the banking relationships of domestic financial institutions, and advising not-for-profits, law firms and individual clients on their financial needs. From 1988 to 1990, she was the finance manager of Women's World Banking, an international not-for-profit dedicated to providing women access to credit. Davidsen holds a BA in mathematics from Brown University.

Challenging Behavioral Patterns and Perspectives

Joel E. Cohen

Columbia University
The Earth Institute
School of International and Public Affairs
The Rockefeller University
email | web site | publications

Joel E. Cohen is the professor of populations at the Rockefeller University and Columbia University in New York City and heads the Laboratory of Populations at Rockefeller and Columbia University. His research deals with the demography, ecology, epidemiology and social organization of human and non-human populations and with mathematical concepts applicable to these fields. He has published 12 books and 325 papers. In 1997 he was the first recipient of the Olivia Schieffelin Nordberg Award "for excellence in writing in the population sciences," in recognition of his book, How Many People Can the Earth Support? (1995). His book Comparisons of Stochastic Matrices, with Applications in Information Theory, Statistics, Economics and Population Sciences received the 2000 Gheorghe Lazar Prize of the Romanian Academy. In 2002, he received the Mayor's Award for Excellence in Science and Technology from the City of New York. His most recent book is Forecasting Product Liability Claims: Epidemiology and Modeling in the Manville Asbestos Case (2004). Cohen earned his doctorates in applied mathematics in 1970 and population sciences and tropical public health in 1973 from Harvard University. In 1997 was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the following year he shared the Fred L. Soper Prize awarded by the Pan American Health Organization for his work on Chagas' disease. In 1999, Cohen was the co-recipient of the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement.

Sir Partha Dasgupta

University of Cambridge
Department of Economics
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Sir Partha Dasgupta is the Frank Ramsey Professor of Economics and past chairman of the faculty of economics and politics at the University of Cambridge. From 1991 to 1997, Dasgupta was chairman of the scientific board of the Beijer International Institute of Ecological Economics of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and, from 1989 to 1992, professor of economics and philosophy, and director of the Program in Ethics in Society at Stanford University. His research interests have covered welfare and development economics; the economics of technological change; population, environmental, and resource economics; the theory of games; and the economics of under nutrition. Dasgupta is a fellow of St. John's College, a fellow of the Econometric Society, a fellow of the British Academy, foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, honorary fellow of the London School of Economics, honorary member of the American Economic Association, member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, foreign associate of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and fellow of the Third World Academy of Sciences. He is a past president of the Royal Economic Society (1998–2001) and the European Economic Association (1999). Dasgupta was named Knight Bachelor by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2002 in her Birthday Honours List for services to economics and was co-recipient (with Karl Goran Maler) of the 2002 Volvo Environment Prize. He is a fellow of the Royal Society (elected 2004) and a foreign member of the American Philosophical Society (elected 2005).

Johan Rockström

Stockholm Environment Institute
email | web site | publications

Johan Rockström is associate professor in natural resources management at Stockholm University and executive director of Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). He has twelve years of research and development work in developing countries, with more than 40 scientific publications in areas of water resource management, agricultural development, environmental management, systems research and resilience research. He has served as regional advisor to the Regional Land Management Unit (RELMA) of Sida, Sweden's development agency. He has contributed to the management and strategic planning of WaterNet, a regional capacity building programme on Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) in Southern Africa, as well as 40 higher-learning and research institutions in 12 countries. He is coordinator of several national and regional research and development projects linked to the Global Water Partnership, the Global Dialogue on Water for Food and Environmental Security, and the Resilience Alliance. He serves on the Steering Committee of the Comprehensive Assessment on Water Management in Agriculture, and the African Conservation Tillage Network. He has carried out research activities on agricultural water management and watershed management in several countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Parker Mitchell

Engineers Without Borders, Canada
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Parker Mitchell is the co-founder and co-CEO of Engineers Without Borders Canada (EWB), Canada's fastest growing international development organization. Founded in 2000, EWB has sent over 150 volunteers to work between four to 36 months with partner organizations in Africa. Within Canada, EWB has built a network of 17,000 members who are dedicated to helping end global poverty. EWB has won almost a dozen prestigious national and international awards. Mitchell has two bachelor's degrees in engineering and arts from the University of Waterloo, and a master's degree in international development from Cambridge University. Prior to EWB he was a consultant with McKinsey and Company and worked for Magna, an auto-parts manufacturer. Parker was featured by Time as one of Canada's next generation of social leaders, and was a recipient of the "Top 40 Under 40" award. He was a co-founder of Canada25, which seeks to inspire young Canadians to become active in public policy, and is chair of the board of the North York Community House, which helps newcomers to Canada to settle and contribute productively to their new homeland.

Andrew P. Dobson

Princeton University
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
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Andrew P. Dobson is a professor in the department of ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University. He also holds an adjunct position in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy at Princeton. He also serves as director of undergraduate studies. He is a senior fellow at Butler College and serves on the University Committees on Resources and Athletics and Student Life. He is an associate of the Royal College of Science UK, and a member of several groups, including the Common Room, Wolfson College, Oxford, the British Ecological Society, the British Society for Parasitology, the American Ecological Society, the Society for Natural Resource Modelling, the Society for Conservation Biology, and the Wildlife Disease Association. His research is concerned with the population ecology of infectious diseases and the conservation of endangered and threatened species. Over the last eight years he has studied infectious diseases in a variety of endangered and fragile ecosystems.

Panel Moderators and Panelists

Darcy B. Kelley, PhD

Columbia University
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
email | web site | publications

Darcy Kelley is a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Columbia University. She completed her PhD at The Rockefeller University, where she was also a postdoctoral fellow. She co-directed the Neural Systems and Behavior course at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and founded Columbia's doctoral program in neurobiology and behavior. She is editor of the Journal of Neurobiology.

Kelley studies the neurobiology of social communication, using the South African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis, and is working to determine how information is transferred from one brain communicate to another. Kelley's honors include several distinguished lectureships, including the Forbes lectureship at the Grass Foundation and the Marine Biological Laboratory, special lecturer at the Society for Neuroscience, and plenary lecturer at the Society for Neuroethology. She is also a two-time recipient of the Jacob Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award.

Albert Fishlow, PhD

Columbia University
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Albert Fishlow is professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University and director of the Center for the Study of Brazil at Columbia since July 2000. He was previously the Paul A. Volcker Senior Fellow for International Economics at the Council of Foreign Relations, and served as professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley and as dean of international and area studies. He has also been visiting professor at the Yale School of Management, and professor of economics and director of the Center for International & Area Studies at Yale University. He served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs from 1975 to 1976, and has been a member of a number of public groups relating to Latin America. In 1999, he was awarded the National Order of the Southern Cross by the government of Brazil. Fishlow's published research has addressed issues in economic history, Brazilian and Latin American development strategy, as well as economic relations between industrialized and developing countries.

David Nissen, PhD

Columbia University
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David Nissen is a Professor of Practice in International and Public Affairs and Director of the Program in International Energy Management and Policy at the Center for Energy, Marine Transportation and Public Policy. Nissen's publications include numerous articles in Econometrica, Review of Economic Studies, Management Science, and various energy journals. He holds a BS from the California Institute of Technology as well as an MA in Statistics and a PhD in Economics, both from the University of California at Berkeley. For 12 years prior to joining the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs, Nissen managed the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and the gas strategic consulting practice at Poten and Partners Inc., a leading commercial and energy consulting firm. He has held senior positions with Exxon's Corporate Planning Department and Chase Manhattan's Corporate Lending Group. Nissen also served in the U.S. Federal Energy Administration (precursor to the Department of Energy) during the Carter Administration, where he directed the quantitative assessment of the Carter Administration's National Energy Plan.

Roberta G. Balstad, PhD

The Earth Institute at Columbia University
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Roberta Balstad is director of Columbia University's Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), principal investigator (PI) and member of the Executive Committee of the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED), co-PI of the Earth Institute Advance Program, and member of the Executive Committee and Advisory Board of the Cooperative Institute on Climate Applications and Research (CICAR). She recently served as chair of the panel for the Priority Area Assessment of Science and Technology Data of the International Council of Science (ICSU). Currently she is chair of the U.S. National Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA) and co-chair of the Panel on Applications and Societal Benefits of the Natural Resource Council (NRC) decadal study, Earth Sciences and Applications from Space.

Balstad received a PhD from the University of Minnesota and was previously the director of the Division of Social and Economic Sciences at the U.S. National Science Foundation. She is a member of the board of directors of the Open Geospatial Consortium and the OGC Interoperability Institute; treasurer of the Global Spatial Data Infrastructure (GSDI); and member of the NRC Committee on Earth System Science for Decisions about Human Welfare. Balstad also serves as chair of St. Antony's College Trust of Oxford University in North America.

John Rennie

Scientific American
web site

John Rennie joined the staff of Scientific American in 1989 as a member of its Board of Editors, and has been editor-in-chief of the magazine since 1994. His particular interests include evolutionary biology, neuroscience, and the interplay of science, politics, and culture. His writing has appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, and other publications.

Nicholas Kristof

The New York Times
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Nicholas Kristof is an op-ed columnist for The New York Times. He joined the paper 1984 and initially covered economics. Later, he served as a correspondent in Los Angeles and as bureau chief in Hong Kong, Beijing, and Tokyo. He covered the 2000 presidential campaign, worked as associate managing editor at the paper, and was responsible for the Sunday Times.

In 1990 Mr. Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, also a Times journalist, won a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of China's Tiananmen Square democracy movement. He won a second Pulitzer in 2006, for commentary. He has also won other prizes including the George Polk Award, the Overseas Press Club award, the Michael Kelly award, the Online News Association award, and the American Society of Newspaper Editors award. Mr. Kristof and Ms. WuDunn are authors of China Wakes: The Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power and Thunder from the East: Portrait of a Rising Asia.

Christine Van Lenten


Christine Van Lenten is a freelance writer who has written about public policy issues and technical and scientific subjects—many of them in the environmental field—for federal and state agencies, nonprofit organizations, and private sector firms.

Presented by the New York Academy of Sciences and The Earth Institute at Columbia University