Wednesday, May 9, 2001
LESTER BROWN LAUNCHES EARTH POLICY INSTITUTE
Today, Lester R. Brown, announced the formation of a new organization: the Earth Policy Institute. Brown will continue as Chairman of the Board of
Worldwatch Institute and will become a Senior Fellow at Worldwatch.
"During the year since I moved from President to Chairman of the Board at Worldwatch, I've had more time to think," said Brown. "Three things have become much more apparent. First, we are losing the war to save the planet.
Many battles have been won, but the gap between what we need to do to arrest the environmental deterioration of Earth and what we are doing continues to widen. Somehow we have to turn the tide."
"Second, we need a vision of what an environmentally sustainable economy-an eco-economy-would look like, a roadmap of how to get from here to there, and
a continual assessment of progress in this effort. Our goal is to help develop a shared vision of the eco-economy. Unless we have a common goal of where we want to go, we are not likely to get there.
"Third, to achieve these goals, we need a new kind of research organization-one that produces brief pieces that are designed for use by the media, can be read by busy policymakers, and can be easily distributed on
the Internet. These short pieces are not a substitute for the in-depth research on environmental issues that is being done by the Worldwatch Institute, World Resources Institute, and many other more specialized,scientific research centres working on environmental issues.
"This is why I am establishing Earth Policy Institute," said Brown. The Institute plans to have three primary products: a book entitled Eco-Economy:Building an Economy for the Earth, a series of four-page Earth Policy Alerts, and similarly brief Eco-Economy Updates that identify major
milestones or setbacks in building an eco-economy.
The purpose of Eco-Economy is to describe the new economy-to provide a vision of what it will look like, how it will work, and how to build it. By definition, an eco-economy is designed to mesh with Earth's ecosystem instead of disrupting and destroying it. The book will contain detailed
descriptions of the policy tools that can be used in this effort, such as a restructuring of the tax system that will simultaneously reduce income taxes and raise taxes on environmentally destructive activities.
The Earth Policy Alerts will be short analyses of environmental issues.
They will be disseminated to a worldwide list of editors and reporters. The Alerts will be fashioned after the highly successful Worldwatch Issue Alerts, which Brown inaugurated in May 2000 as Chairman of the Board at Worldwatch.
The monthly Eco-Economy Updates will deal with new initiatives that are affecting progress toward an eco-economy. Based on a worldwide monitoring
system, they will include initiatives that contribute to building an eco-economy, such as a major commitment by a government to develop its wind energy resources or to stabilize population, as well as actions that detract
from the effort, such as a governmental decision to allow clearcutting of a forest.
Brown challenges the communications media to assume responsibility for helping the world make the transition to an eco-economy. "It will take an enormous amount of information dissemination to guide the transition to an
eco-economy," said Brown. "Editors may not relish this assignment, but the reality is that there is no other institution that has the capacity to disseminate quickly the information needed to guide the transition to a
sustainable economy in the time that is available."
If the media does not step up to the plate on this one, then environmental deterioration will likely continue until it eventually leads to economic decline. The stakes in the battle to save the planet are high. When we talk
about protecting the economy's environmental support systems, we are talking about protecting the economy itself.
"When I founded Worldwatch in 1974," Brown said, "I felt there was a need for an organization committed to an interdisciplinary analysis of global environmental issues, one that could help raise global awareness of these
issues. Worldwatch is more than fulfilling that mission with its cutting-edge research, its worldwide publishing network in some 30 languages, and its well-developed working relationship with the world's major news organizations. Now that it is firmly established as the global leader in this effort and has a new generation of leaders, I decided it was
time for me to re-focus my energy on the effort to build an eco-economy."
Making the transfer with Brown from Worldwatch to the Earth Policy Institute are Reah Janise Kauffman and Janet Larsen, who, with Brown, are the incorporators of the Institute. Ms. Kauffman, who has worked with Brown as his special assistant for 14 years and who has helped found the new
Institute, will be the Vice President, responsible for its day-to-day management. At Worldwatch, she assisted with fundraising and directed the
Institute's international publishing program in some 30 languages. Ms.Larsen, who has been assisting Brown with research since her recent
graduation from Stanford University's Earth Systems program, will help develop the research program at the new Institute.
When fully operational, Brown envisions a staff of 10 to 12. Charter members of the Institute's Board of Directors include Judith Gradwohl,Curator and Web Site Director at the Smithsonian Institute; William Mansfield, former Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director
of the UN Environment Programme; and Scott McVay, former President of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and now the head of the Chautauqua Institution.
Brown gratefully acknowledges the support of Vicki and Roger Sant of the Summit Foundation, who provided a $500,000 startup grant.
Earth Policy Institute is located at 1350 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 403, Washington, DC 20036-right on Dupont Circle. The Web site address is
www.earth-policy.org. e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Individuals who are interested in subscribing to the Earth Policy Institute's listserv to receive the Earth Policy Alerts and Eco-Economy Updates may do so on the website or by sending an e-mail to email@example.com with a request to subscribe.
Earth Policy Institute