Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Earth Institute and Sustainability

The Earth Institute (EI) of Columbia University is an organization with the mission of creating “solutions for sustainable development.” This includes taking issues that are cross-cutting and believing that to solve one problem (i.e. climate change) requires taking on all the other challenges (i.e. education) that are related to it.

One of the greatest qualities of the organization is it's leadership. Jeffrey Sachs, a leading world economist, is not only the director of the EI but also a Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development and a Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University. He also acts as special advisor to United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon and from 2002 to 2006 he was Director of the UN Millennium Project and Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Millennium Development Goals. Additionally the EI has taken on a flexible leadership structure that invites participation from the many different parts of the EI and promotes community building.

The EI has a Management Team that handles the operational aspects of the EI, an Academic Committee tonsure the quality of research and education activities and and External Advisory Board that provides guidance regarding priorities in science, public policy and teaching. These three different administrative arms of the EI ensure that their objectives are met as efficiently and effectively as possible.

In creating solutions for sustainable development, the EI works in research, education and the practical application of research for solving real world challenges. One of the ways that they see this happening is by expanding the world's understanding of the Earth as an integrated system. Specifically the EI is working to advance nine interconnected global issues, including: climate and society, water, energy, poverty, ecosystems, public health, food and nutrition, hazards and finally urbanization (use the links to navigate to the EI's specific pages for each project). The EI works all support a fundamental belief within the organization that the Earth has within it, all the necessary tools that are needed to stop climate change, poverty and other critical global issues.

Partnerships for the EI are and should continue to be seen as an important part of the organization. Their websites claims that they will continue to “build partnerships with academia, corporations, nonprofits and individuals as well as governmental, multilateral and private institutions to find effective and sustainable solutions for the world's challenges.” The EI's website goes on to mention that by creating close ties with the stakeholders, in all aspects of their work, will help them in helping the world achieve sustainability.

Earth Institute logo photo from EI website
Earth Photo from State of the Planet, Blogs from the EI

Additional Resources for you to check out!

American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment

The White House on Energy and Environment

Link to my first bog entry about the Millennium Villages Project

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