Earth Institute

of the Columbia University

The Global Challenge: Earth is at a critical crossroads. While revolutionary advances in science and technology have lifted humanity to new heights of prosperity and longevity in many parts of the world, hundreds of millions of people are vulnerable to the impacts of hazards and natural disasters, extreme poverty, infectious disease and a host of other challenges. At the same time, human activity, especially in the last 100 years, is threatening the health of the environment and potentially posing risks of unprecedented magnitude to our shared future. Today, approximately one in six people on the planet subsist on less than $1 a day. The world’s population is expected to increase to 9 billion people by 2050, further straining Earth’s resources and humanity’s ability to thrive. With a window of opportunity to head off the most severe impacts of these challenges, the Earth Institute, Columbia University, is working to help the world pave a path toward sustainability … (about 1/2).

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Address: The Earth Institute, Columbia University, 405 Low Library, MC 4335, 535 West 116th Street, New York, NY 10027, USA;

About 2/2: … Taking a Bold Approach: The Earth Institute’s overarching goal is to help achieve sustainable development primarily by expanding the world’s understanding of Earth as one integrated system. We work toward this goal through scientific research, education and the practical application of research for solving real-world challenges.  

With 850 scientists, postdoctoral fellows and students working in and across more than 20 Columbia University research centers, the Earth Institute is helping to advance nine interconnected global issues: climate and society, water, energy, poverty, ecosystems, public health, food and nutrition, hazards and urbanization. With Columbia University as its foundation, the Earth Institute draws upon the scientific rigor, technological innovation and academic leadership for which the University is known. The Earth Institute encompasses centers of excellence with an established reputation for groundbreaking research, including the renowned Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, home to some of the world’s leading scientists pursuing the study of Earth and its systems. The Earth Institute is implementing solutions to global challenges; pioneering research; advising national governments, the United Nations and other international agencies; and educating the next generation of leaders in sustainable development. While Earth is indeed at a critical crossroads, our work reflects the fundamental belief that the world has within its possession the tools needed to effectively mitigate climate change, poverty and other critical issues.

Sustainable Development:

  • The Earth Institute is confronting the 21st century’s most pressing problems by taking a bold and innovative approach to achieve sustainable development. This approach prioritizes the protection of Earth’s ecosystems, oceans and atmosphere as well as the spread of social and economic opportunities for all people. To achieve sustainable development, the Earth Institute is conducting and applying interdisciplinary scientific research to address many cross-cutting issues. We believe that finding solutions to one problem, such as extreme poverty, must involve tackling other related challenges, such as environmental degradation and lack of access to health care and education. Anchored in this unique approach, the Earth Institute is leading the way in this promising and dynamic new field.

Leadership at the Earth Institute:

  • The Earth Institute has a flexible and responsive structure that enables its members to meet its intellectual and implementation objectives efficiently and effectively. To that end, the Earth Institute has developed a streamlined governance structure that invites broad participation from the many constituent parts of the Earth Institute and promotes community building. The Management Team handles the operational aspects of the Earth Institute including finance and administration, communications, funding initiatives, and academic and research programs. The Academic Committee advances integration and ensures the quality of both research and educational activities taking place under the Institute’s auspices. The Earth Institute’s External Advisory Board provides guidance regarding priorities in science, public policy, and teaching, among other issues for the Earth Institute.

Partnerships for Progress:

  • While the Earth Institute is contributing substantially to global problem solving, people and organizations around the world have a fundamental role to play in successfully achieving sustainable development. Over the next decade, the Earth Institute 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. By forging close ties with stakeholders in all aspects of its work, the Earth Institute is able to expand its reach and more effectively help the world achieve sustainability. While one organization cannot achieve sustainable development alone, the Earth Institute is committed to playing a major role to ensure a world of shared prosperity and environmental sustainability.

Examples of Earth Institute Initiatives: … (full text).

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