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The Earth Institute brings together the people and tools needed to address some of the world’s most difficult problems, from climate change and environmental degradation to poverty, disease and the sustainable use of resources. It is with a bold, collaborative and innovative approach that our scientists, researchers and students are finding solutions to some of the most challenging issues of our time.




Letter from the President of Columbia University


Letter from the Director of the Earth Institute


Sustainable Visions: From Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals


Climate and Life


Raising the Bar for Global Water Management


Partnerships for Sustainable Development


Our Donors



It is a privilege to share this

work of Columbia University’s

new Columbia Global Centers, in Nairobi and Rio de Janeiro, to provide

annual update on the important

Earth Institute at a time in human history when developing a more sustainable society has become essential for our

collective future. Great research

universities exist not only to discover new knowledge, but also to search for innovative

solutions to the central challenges facing our world. No

part of Columbia better exem-

plifies this mission than the

Earth Institute, which includes our



Observatory in Palisades, New

York. The accomplishments over the past year of the Institute’s faculty and

students provide many compelling examples of this work, whether across the five boroughs of New York City or from pole to pole across the globe.

Last autumn Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast, delivering the

worst destruction to the low-lying coastal communities of our city and

suburbs. Earth Institute scientists joined with other faculty from every corner of the University to help policy makers and the public understand and

respond to the most extreme weather event in our region’s history. In the aftermath of Sandy, our scholars—from climatologists to civil engineers to

economists—are using this experience to improve our understanding of rising sea levels and the growing incidence of extreme weather. This critical

Increasingly, the Earth Institute is a key part of Columbia’s broader

commitment to global engagement. Last year, we officially launched two multidisciplinary points of contact for research, study abroad and international partnerships in Africa and South America. The Columbia Global Centers network both relies on and supports a good number of Earth Institute initiatives across many continents. Our goal is not only to experience

firsthand the critical issues cutting across national borders and academic disciplines, but to bring this global perspective to bear on the work we do on our home campus in the most diverse and global of great cities.

This year, we also congratulated Professor Terry Plank, a

geochemist, for becoming the second Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory scientist to receive a MacArthur Fellowship. Terry was awarded this presti-

gious prize for her revolutionary studies of the deep earth and the tectonic influences behind some of the world’s most explosive volcanoes. In addition, Terry and Lamont-Doherty’s Mark Cane, an expert on the El Niño climate

pattern, were elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Membership

in the National Academy of Sciences is granted for excellence in original research and is one of the highest honors awarded to engineers and scientists

in the United States. Together, Terry and Mark join a host of Academy members

and MacArthur Fellows who are individually and collectively upholding Columbia’s rich tradition of academic excellence and public service.

Columbia University is uniquely positioned to apply scholarly

expertise to the great challenges facing our world. Because of your generosity,

the Earth Institute plays an essential part in our leadership and service. With your ongoing support, we are primed to continue pursuing innovative research and to make vital contributions to society’s quality of life—today and for generations to come.

research will help us better prepare for the future and enhance our resiliency in the face of shifting global climate patterns. We are proud of our many

faculty members who have advised both New York City and New York State on long-term plans for climate adaptation. Of course, Earth Institute

researchers work on a global canvas; they have also provided critical new insight into how a warming planet affects drought-prone—and flood-prone—

regions in the United States, Africa and Asia. And the Earth Institute’s

geological expertise is helping to better equip us to weather monumental natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis.

The Earth Institute, Columbia University


Lee C. Bollinger

We have entered the age of sustainable development. This is a necessity,

threatening of Earth’s natural environment that we need new ways to study


not a choice. The world economy is now so vast, so unequal and so

global dynamic change in order to solve the rising crises of inequality,

unemployment and environmental transformation. The Earth Institute at Columbia University is extremely proud to be among the world’s leading institutions in addressing these unique challenges.

Our global economy offers unprecedented opportunities as well

as unprecedented perils. On the one hand, with the advances of technology

and globalized production systems, the end of extreme poverty is within sight. The Earth Institute has been a pioneer in the past dozen years in

helping the world achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to reduce poverty, hunger and disease. Building on the successes of the MDGs, the world is now in a position to end extreme poverty in the coming generation. The Earth Institute is proud to be working around the world to deliver

the science, innovation and policy guidance to help realize this goal. Here on campus and with university partners around the world, we are also leading new and innovative education programs to teach our students the skills they will need to help lead this historic effort.

At the same time, technological advances are creating new

challenges and crises. The revolution in information and communications

technology has dramatically changed the global labor market, leading to the end of many traditional sources of employment while creating new ones.

Unless economies adjust effectively, they face major crises of rising inequality of income and higher unemployment, notably among young people.

Even more staggering, the advancing world economy now poses

unparalleled environmental threats. With the world economy producing

some $80 trillion in output each year and still growing rapidly, the unchecked use of key primary resources such as fossil fuels and fresh water has reached

dangerous levels. Massive dependence on fossil fuels is leading to rapid climate change and is already bringing more heat waves, extreme storms, flooding, and other weather-related catastrophes. Other environmental

crises include the depletion of groundwater, the acidification of the oceans and the massive destruction of habitats belonging to millions of other species.

Sustainable Development is a new field of study and a new



The key to sustain-

development humanity





natural environment as part

of an integrated and complex

system. Sustainable development helps us understand the

interconnections—technological, financial, demographic,

economic and environmental

—now operating at global

scales. As an approach to policy design and implementa-

tion, sustainable development

directs attention to a holistic strategy that includes economic development, social inclusion and environmental sustainability.

The Earth Institute was founded some 15 years ago, when the scale

of our risks and opportunities was still not clear. Now the world understands the magnitude of our sustainable development challenges. The Earth Institute is extremely proud to host the Secretariat of the new Sustainable

Development Solutions Network under the auspices of UN Secretary-

General Ban Ki-Moon, to build a global network of expertise and problem solving commensurate with global needs. It is a daunting and thrilling task.

The Earth Institute is a global pioneer in what is perhaps humanity’s

greatest challenge: to end poverty, promote inclusive prosperity and save

the environment at the same time. We need the help of all our friends, supporters, and partners in this effort. We have a thrilling opportunity to

develop and teach the very best in science, engineering, cultural understanding and public policy. We have the chance to help mobilize the

entire world to greater action, and we are greatly honored with the trust and confidence of institutions around the world in this effort. Please help, and join us on this uniquely 21st-century adventure and opportunity.

approach to these challenges. It is the flagship of the Earth Institute, a

recognized global leader in sustainable development to which governments, businesses, NGOs and international organizations are increasingly turning

for advice and partnership. The programs and projects described in the 2013 Annual Donor Report reflect the cutting-edge science, teaching and outreach across the Earth Institute and its projects around the world.

Jeffrey Sachs




“The Action Agenda for Sustainable Development is a state-of-the-art compendium of today’s obstacles to sustainability and a road map to a future we want. The Action Agenda is the result of deliberations by some of the best brains of our time dealing with the challenges that limit future generations’ freedom of action and scope of choice, and it covers all priorities. While the ‘business as usual’ trajectory is not an option, the SDSN Action Agenda goes much further and shows the road map to sustainability.” Klaus Leisinger, Novartis

The Earth Institute, Columbia University


Sustainable Visions

“UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is mobilizing

global action around the great challenge of our

time: sustainable development. It is a call that the world must heed.” —Jeffrey Sachs

Since 2000 the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have been the world’s time-bound and quantified targets for addressing extreme poverty and its many root causes. The MDGs

were created to explore the impact of setting global priorities for addressing extreme poverty and mobilizing the support necessary to achieve them. They represent widespread

public concern about hunger, disease, lack of education, gender inequality and environmental

degradation. By articulating these priorities as eight clear, easily understandable goals with measurable objectives, the MDGs raised global awareness, generated social feedback, supported policy changes and became a global report card for the fight against poverty.

Many countries have made significant progress toward achieving the MDGs by their

2015 deadline, and there is widespread feeling among policy makers and civil society that

the MDGs have been vital to notable and scalable progress against poverty. There is also overwhelming consensus that globally agreed-upon goals to continue the fight against

poverty beyond 2015 must be established. With the threat of climate change and other serious environmental challenges, there is an understanding that environmental objectives

will require a higher profile alongside poverty-reduction goals. “In the 20 years since the first Rio Earth Summit, the world has largely failed to address some of the most serious environ-

mental and social problems pressing on us,” says Professor Jeffrey Sachs, director of the

Earth Institute at Columbia University. “We can’t afford business as usual. We need to engage the academic and scientific communities and tap into worldwide technological know-how in the private sector and civil society in order to develop and implement practical solutions.”




Responding to this need and to the outcome of the Rio+20 Conference in 2012, United

Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon tasked Professor Sachs with the creation of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, or SDSN, an independent global network of

research centers, universities and technical institutions charged with finding solutions for some of the world’s most pressing environmental, social and economic problems.

The SDSN started work immediately and has already begun providing an open and inclusive

process to support and scale up problem solving at local, national and global levels. The SDSN

is working closely with the various UN agencies contributing to the post-2015 agenda, including the High-level Panel of eminent persons and the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development

Goals. “The post-2015 objectives will help the world focus on the vital challenges of sustainable development,” Ban Ki-moon said at the launch, “and the Sustainable Development Solutions

Network will be an innovative way to draw upon worldwide expertise in the campuses, universities, scientific research centers and business technology divisions around the world.”

Toward this end, the SDSN has established 12 thematic groups comprising leading

scientists, engineers, academics, practitioners, CEOs and civic leaders to promote solutions to

key challenges of sustainable development. The thematic groups are solution oriented rather

than research oriented, and aim to spur governments, UN agencies and the public toward practical solutions.

The SDSN Secretariat, directed by Professor Sachs, is hosted by the Earth Institute in

New York and the Columbia Global Center (Reid Hall) in Paris, where Guido Schmidt-Traub

serves as executive director. Leveraging the Earth Institute’s vast resources and a number of

collaborations across the globe, the SDSN is also supporting specific solutions initiatives that

address common barriers inhibiting the deployment of promising technologies, business models,

institutional mechanisms and policies. These initiatives include: one million smartphone-enabled community health workers in sub-Saharan Africa; energy access for all in sub-Saharan Africa,

a project with Eni—an integrated energy company working primarily in the areas of oil and natural gas production—and the Earth Institute’s Modi Lab, directed by Professor Vijay Modi. The Earth Institute, Columbia University


The SDSN is building a global network of stakeholders, including research institutes, The Earth Institute, Columbia University

universities, civic organizations and private firms, organized around national and regional hubs, to spur national and regional priority setting and action on sustainable development.

Some of the first regional SDSNs are those in the Sahel, the Mediterranean basin, Australia/ Pacific, South Asia, East Asia, the Caribbean and the Amazon. National networks are being built up in Nigeria, Ethiopia, Brazil, Indonesia, South Korea and Malaysia.

Substantial emphasis is placed on collaboration across countries to analyze common

problems and learn from one another’s experience. This global network is accelerating joint learning and helping overcome the compartmentalization of technical and policy work by promoting integrated systems approaches to the complex economic, social and environmental

challenges confronting governments. As part of this network, businesses—particularly those operating with cutting-edge technologies—will work alongside scientists, policy analysts and

community leaders to understand and anticipate new technological opportunities to address economic, social and environmental constraints.

The SDSN and the Earth Institute are grateful to Ted Turner, global business leader,

philanthropist and founder of both CNN and the United Nations Foundation, whose founding

gift to establish the network is vital to this effort. Mr. Turner is working with other leaders in sustainable development through the SDSN Leadership Council, which guides and advises the

network. “We need development solutions based in science, and we need them now,” Turner says. “The future of the planet and its people is at stake. The new Sustainable Development Solutions Network aims to promote smart and effective action—before it’s too late.” ANNUAL DONOR REPORT 2013



Sustainability Policy and Management

Eileen Barrosso


With a $500,000 gift in seed funding provided by Mr. Kingfull Ding, the Earth Institute launched the Research Program on Sustainability Policy and Management, under executive director Steven Cohen. The program draws upon interdisciplinary expertise across the institute and the university. Some of the staff involved in the program will be Satyajit Bose, lecturer in the discipline of economics; Michael Gerrard, Andrew Sabin Professor of Professional Practice in the Faculty of Law; William Eimicke, professor of professional practice in the Faculty of International and Public Affairs; and Alison Miller, deputy executive director of the Earth Institute. With this gift, the program made its first hire, Dong Guo, a postdoctoral scholar who will work with faculty and researchers to develop the program’s initial research agenda, which focuses on analyzing and assessing sustainability measurement and metrics frameworks. The Earth Institute Research Program on Sustainability Policy and Management is leveraging the scientific base of the Earth Institute and Columbia University with insights on sustainability practices from partner nonprofit, corporate, government and nongovernmental organizations. The research program is providing a rigorous analytic base to better understand important sustainability issues and to develop more effective public policies and organizational practices. To date, more than 20 top companies have participated in helping shape the direction of the new program. “This innovative program is gathering the best policy and management minds to examine the critical sustainability challenges facing organizations,” says Cohen. “It is leading research on the practical problems of sustainability management in the public and private sectors, with a focus on work that informs how real organizations manage these issues of sustainability.” This program supports Professor Cohen’s own scholarship and is enhancing the research base available to support the two master’s programs that he directs in Environmental Science and Policy (at the School of International and Public Affairs) and in Sustainability Management (at the School of Continuing Education). The goal is to create academic research in sustainability management that is peer reviewed and that addresses the fundamental issues of professional practice in the real world. The Earth Institute, Columbia University


The Earth Institute, Columbia University

Photo Credit: Solar Electric Light Fund




“Observatory scientists are leading efforts to understand the roles of the ocean, land, atmosphere and biosphere in the behavior of the modern climate system and its variability on timescales from years to decades and longer. The Climate and Life initiative will bring that expertise, unmatched at any single institution in its breadth across the earth sciences, to address many of the most pressing issues now facing humanity.� Sean Solomon, Director of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory The Earth Institute, Columbia University


Deployment of particle interceptor traps in the Antarctic Ocean for measuring biologically driven carbon fluxes in the ocean. Photo Credit: Helga Gomes

Climate and Life

With the global population surpassing 7 billion

people, immense pressures are being placed on

the natural world. Evidence of these pressures is increasingly difficult to ignore—from rising temper-

atures and accelerated sea level rise to the

increased incidence of extreme weather events and more. Society is seeking answers to the difficult but key question: How will climate change affect our quality of life and the fundamental resources upon which we rely for food, water, shelter and energy?

The new Program for Climate and Life at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, the

largest unit of the Earth Institute, is mobilizing many of the world’s best scientists to understand how climate change will impact the essentials for human sustainability in the coming

decades. The initiative was motivated by a basic truth: People care most about climate change when it is made directly relevant to their livelihoods and personal security. Climate

change touches nearly every aspect of human sustainability, yet we know remarkably little about the specifics of these impacts.

Much of the modern understanding of climate change is underpinned by pioneering

studies done at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Starting in the 1950s and continuing today, researchers at sea, on land and in the lab have worked in

disciplines including oceanography, atmospheric physics, magnetism, geochemistry, glacial geology, paleontology, tree-ring studies and more. Over more than five decades, they have

shed light on how long- and short-term natural climate cycles work; the central role of atmospheric carbon dioxide; the hidden role of oceans; the possibility of extremely abrupt

shifts; the potential effects on nature and on human societies and, most recently, potential ways to address human-influenced climate change.




Researchers discuss the results of a study examining drought in North America. Photo Credit: LDEO

Working from these core strengths, the Climate and Life initiative represents a major

institutional investment to support the research needed to understand how climate change

will affect the security of food, water, shelter and energy in the decades ahead. The program

builds upon existing strengths in climate change and ecosystems research to launch a new investigative effort focusing on the human sustainability dimension of climate change.

Questions to be explored under this new initiative include how climate change may affect water availability in the American West and the tenuous water balances in the Middle East;

how progressive warming and extreme heat wave events may impact regional agricultural zones; whether ecosystems can keep pace with accelerating rates of climate change;

how ocean acidification affects marine life; how rapidly sea levels will rise, and how we can improve those estimates for coastal urban areas; as well as which carbon capture and storage options are viable, and how they can be implemented.

Several positive developments are guiding the decision to establish this program

now. A new 10,000-square-foot Laboratory for Biogeochemistry was completed this year,

funded by a $10 million competitive award from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

A separate $1.5 million NSF award provides new research instrumentation capabilities in marine microbiology, genomics, molecular biomarker research and geochemical analysis

of ocean sediments, corals and marine life. Climate and Life was selected in 2013 as a The Earth Institute, Columbia University


showcase program for Columbia’s new Science Initiative, a bold university-wide strategic plan to achieve international preeminence in science. With these labs and equipment in

place, two generous gifts from anonymous donors have officially launched the Climate

and Life program. Peter deMenocal, professor and chair of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia, will direct the program. These funds will eventually

support several Climate and Life researchers, sponsor innovative research projects and equip new lab facilities. This year, the first Climate and Life Fellows—researchers who show exceptional promise and scientific leadership—will be announced after an open search.

With such visionary partners, Climate and Life researchers will lead the fundamental

research needed to understand how climate change impacts life, ecosystems and human sustainability. The goal will be to leverage donor support against federally funded research

projects to build an entrepreneurial environment among Lamont’s research ranks and to make the Climate and Life program the nation’s most attractive and comprehensive of its kind.

“Lamont scientists have documented many examples from Earth’s past when

changes in regional and global climate induced major changes to ecosystems and biological

communities, including human populations,” notes Lamont’s director, Sean Solomon. “In parallel, Observatory scientists are leading efforts to understand the roles of the ocean, land, atmosphere and biosphere in the behavior of the modern climate system and its variability

on timescales from years to decades and longer. The Climate and Life initiative will bring that expertise, unmatched at any single institution in its breadth across the earth sciences, to address many of the most pressing issues now facing humanity.”





Our Experts in the News

Mark Cane, an expert on the El Niño climate pattern, and Terry Plank, an authority on explosive volcanoes—both scientists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory—have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Membership in the Academy is given for excellence in original scientific work and is one of the highest honors awarded to engineers and scientists in the United States. Already a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, Cane is perhaps best known for developing, with his student Stephen Zebiak, a computer model that simulates the interactions between ocean and atmosphere that drive El Niño, the cyclic warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean that affects weather in many parts of the world. The Cane-Zebiak model accurately predicted two El Niño events in a row, in 1986 and 1991, more than a year in advance. The ability to predict an El Niño has revolutionized seasonal and long-term climate forecasting, enabling people to prepare for impending drought or heavy rain. More recently, Cane has explored the link between El Niño and political conflict. Published in a 2011 study in Nature, he and a team of researchers found that the arrival of El Niño–related droughts every three to seven years doubled the risk of civil war across dozens of tropical countries. Plank is a geochemist who studies the workings of the deep earth and their influence on some of the world’s most explosive volcanoes, from Guatemala’s Volcán Fuego to Augustine Volcano in Alaska. Volcanoes are born where earth’s tectonic plates meet, as one plate dives beneath another in a slow but violent recycling process called subduction. For most of her career, Plank has studied both the seafloor that sinks into the earth and the volcanic islands produced during subduction collisions: the Aleutians, off Alaska; the Marianas, off the Philippines; and the Tonga Islands, off New Zealand. In particular, she has determined the global chemical flux in subducting sediments and developed proxies for measuring temperature in the subducting plate and mantle where magmas are generated. A more recent area of research for Plank is how volcanoes become explosive, fueled by water drawn down the subduction zone and then superheated and pressurized. With her students and postdoctoral researchers, Plank has journeyed around the Pacific Ring of Fire to investigate how much water and carbon dioxide The Earth Institute, Columbia University


The Earth Institute, Columbia University

Comer Geochemistry Lab, Palisades, New York. Photo Credit: A.J. Wilhelm




magmas contain before they erupt, to understand why some volcanoes become more explosive than others. Plank is also studying Kilauea, a normally peaceful volcano on the big island of Hawaii that has produced violent eruptions in the past. Plank was also awarded a $500,000 MacArthur Fellowship in 2012. Plank said of the prize, “It came with no warning. It literally fell out of the sky!” She said she would continue to teach and to do research and use the opportunity to “explore some new or risky directions in the study of volcanoes, plate tectonics and the origin of the continents.” Previous Earth Institute researchers elected to the National Academy include climate scientist Wallace Broecker; paleomagnetism researcher Dennis Kent; paleontologist Paul Olsen; marine geophysicist Walter Pitman; seismologist Lynn Sykes and experimental petrologist David Walker, all from Lamont-Doherty. Others include Ruth DeFries, an ecologist who heads Columbia’s Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology department; James Hansen, a climate scientist and director of the Program on Climate Science Awareness and Solutions; Sean Solomon, a geophysicist and director of Lamont-Doherty; and Pedro Sanchez, an agronomist who heads the Earth Institute’s Agriculture and Food Security Center. The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit society of scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to furthering science and technology and using them for the general welfare.

The Earth Institute, Columbia University


The Earth Institute, Columbia University

Deep sea cores from the Lamont collection are used to reconstruct patterns of natural climate variability in the past. Photo Credit: Angel Mojarro




“Working together with the communities in which we operate, we have made great progress in recent years to position PepsiCo to deliver sustainable performance. We continue to find innovative ways to reduce costs and minimize our impact on the environment, and our comprehensive approach to water stewardship is enabling our company to address water scarcity, while increasing the efficiency of our business operations.� PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi

Kamal Vatta and field workers installing tensiometers in the Punjab rice fields. Photo Credit: Punjab Agricultural University

The Earth Institute, Columbia University


Raising the Bar for Global Water Management

Water scarcity is a growing concern from large cities in the American Southwest to smallholder

farmers in Vietnam. In many areas, supplies are used more rapidly than they are replenished. The

U.S. drought in 2012 affected 60 percent of the

continental area of the United States, devastating crops and driving up world food prices. In

sub-Saharan Africa, ongoing drought not only cuts into food supply, it also drives migration; it has even been linked to civil conflict. In India, the “green revolution” that has fed the subcontinent threatens to decimate underground water supplies.

This was the focus of the 2013 State of the Planet Conference: The World at Risk:

Water Security, sponsored by the PepsiCo Foundation in March. The conference, co-hosted by the Columbia Water Center, welcomed hundreds of students and other interested individuals in person, with more joining via live webcast. Natural climate variability—from

periodic dry spells to damaging storms that cause flooding and erosion—demands better

planning and conservation. But climate change will exacerbate these problems. Mark Cane,

the G. Unger Vetlesen Professor of Earth and Climate Sciences at Columbia University, noted that global warming is likely to make already dry areas drier and wet areas, wetter. When

drought hits, things will worsen and the solutions that work today might not work in the future.

“We all have to figure out how to use less water,” said Brian Richter, director of global

The Earth Institute and the PepsiCo Foundation have worked together successfully

freshwater strategies for the Nature Conservancy and a panelist with Cane at the conference. on water-related projects since 2008, when the foundation made a $6 million grant that helped found the Columbia Water Center. Through its foundation, PepsiCo identified projects and partners to provide access to safe water to millions of people through initiatives that

include water conservation, climate-informed allocation decisions, distribution, purification 19



and hygiene for underserved communities in China, India, Mali, and countries in Latin America such as Brazil and Colombia. PepsiCo is setting the tone for improving operations by employing sustainable, cost-saving methods and by demonstrating business success through sustainable innovation.

At the conference, PepsiCo announced that it had met its goal—two years ahead of

schedule—to help provide access to safe water to 3 million people in developing countries by

the end of 2015. The goal was achieved in large part through the field research and partnerships provided by the Columbia Water Center in Brazil.

“Today’s announcement with the PepsiCo Foundation is a clarion call to the public and

private sectors that we need to share the responsibility for sustainably using the resources of

our planet, especially those like water that are increasingly under stress,” said Jeffrey Sachs. “We’re proud to be working with PepsiCo on addressing the challenges of water and sustainable development more generally.”

The PepsiCo Foundation is continuing its support for Columbia Water Center projects

in South America with a $1 million grant over three years. The project seeks to test and demonstrate the effectiveness of innovative methods for water conservation and water quality preservation through sustainable agriculture pilot programs in Brazil and Peru.

“We have learned a great deal about ways to improve water security in some of the

most challenging places in the world, thanks to our partnership with the PepsiCo Foundation,”

said Upmanu Lall, director of the Columbia Water Center. “It has been a lifetime of learning in a short span, and we look forward to expanding upon this partnership and creating similar partnerships that can foster change in the world through education and research in leading institutions with a purposeful outreach to societies.”

The Earth Institute, Columbia University


The Earth Institute, Columbia University

Cultivating Technology for Better Soil Management

Adjunct Professor Ray Weil shows how SoilDoc works at the Tumbi experiment station near Mbola, Tanzania. Photo credit: Ag Center


Soil nutrient replenishment in sub-Saharan Africa is widely recognized as a critical biophysical entry point for agricultural transformation. Yet soil science is often not applied in the field because of the difficulties in transmitting soil samples to a lab where they can be analyzed. Such information is integral to making recommendations about nutrient use. Particularly in Africa, getting samples to a lab has become a largely ineffective exercise. As a result, many farmers simply lack the necessary information about their soil, and many are following one-size-fits-all government recommendations for fertilizer application. To improve soil management and build upon the success of the African Green Revolution, Ray Weil, professor of environmental science and technology at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Maryland, and Pedro Sanchez, director of the Earth Institute’s Agriculture and Food Security Center, have developed the SoilDoc, an innovative portable soil analysis tool kit. SoilDoc is a mobile lab-in-a-box that allows trained agriculture extension workers to collect and submit soil samples from the field to a virtual soils lab, using an Android or mobile phone. SoilDoc eliminates the time-consuming and error-prone step of sending soil samples to a conventional lab for analysis and enables soil analysis and site-specific fertilizer recommendations to be made in real time. Used by trained agricultural extension workers, SoilDoc will provide farmers with the necessary technological support to carry the African Green Revolution to the next phase. The Earth Institute and the Agriculture and Food Security Center are grateful to three key funders for making possible the creation and growth of SoilDoc: DuPont/Pioneer, Monsanto Company and the Mosaic Company.




The Earth Institute, Columbia University

The Columbia Water Center develops tools to help farmers use water more efficiently. Photo Credit: Columbia Water Center


The Earth Institute, Columbia University

State of the Planet 2013. Photo Credit: PepsiCo Below, left: Mark Cane, State of the Planet 2013. Photo Credit: Earth Institute




“The big issues the world is facing require new approaches, new business models and new partnerships. Responsible businesses must take a more active leadership role.” Unilever CEO Paul Polman

Global Hand-washing Day event. Photo Credit: Lakshmi Balachandran 2012

The Earth Institute, Columbia University


Partnerships for Sustainable Development

Public-private partnerships play a vital role in the

development of new methodologies and the implementation of advances that will help improve

the quality of life on our planet. In the 2013 fiscal year, the Earth Institute was honored to share in

many innovative partnerships aimed at addressing global challenges in public health, education, access to clean water, Internet connectivity, energy, infrastructure, food security and nutrition. We will highlight three of these partnerships here.

In October 2012 Unilever and the Earth Institute announced a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) initiative, which includes a program to educate students on the importance

of hand washing—a proven lifesaving habit—in the Millennium Villages. The partnership supports Unilever’s goal to help more than 1 billion people take action to improve their health and

well-being through its Sustainable Living Plan. In the first three years, Unilever, with their soap brand Lifebuoy, has successfully reached more than 119 million people with

hand-washing behavior change programs in Africa, Asia and Latin America. “The big issues the world is facing require new approaches, new business models and new partnerships,

said Unilever CEO Paul Polman at the launch of the partnership. “Responsible businesses must take a more active leadership role,” he continued. “It is unacceptable that 2 million

children die every year from infectious diseases when we have easy and cheap lifesaving solutions, such as hand washing with soap, readily available. Innovative partnerships between governments, civil society and business have a critical role to play in promoting better hygiene practices and tackling the world’s deadliest diseases.”

Consistent evidence demonstrates that hand washing with soap at critical times—

before eating or preparing food and after using the toilet—can reduce diarrheal risk by up to 25



45 percent and acute respiratory infections such as pneumonia by as much as 23 percent. Some studies have found that primary school absenteeism due to diarrhea and respiratory infections dropped between 20 percent and 50 percent as a result of better hand-washing practices.

“We are looking forward to working with Unilever to ensure that straightforward solutions

like hand washing reach the people who need them most,” said Jeffrey Sachs, director of the

Earth Institute, at the launch. “The poor need solutions that are affordable, products that are highly effective and information that is practical and accessible. The benefits can be enormous.”

This partnership aims to reach more than 450,000 individuals by 2015; it focuses

on tailoring and implementing Lifebuoy’s hand-washing behavior change program in 10 Millennium Village clusters in Africa. By this means, Unilever aims to decrease incidences

of diarrheal diseases, promote gender equality, increase school attendance, and enhance productivity and well-being for all community members.

The IKEA Foundation is funding the Earth Institute’s Model Districts project, which aims to improve the health and education of millions of children in rural communities in India so that

they can have a healthy start in life and a quality education. The project’s health component

works to help women and children live longer and healthier lives by improving their nutrition; the education component seeks to provide better access to a higher-quality education. The Earth Institute, Columbia University


The Earth Institute, Columbia University

Paul Polman, CEO Unilever; Kajol, distinguished Indian actress and handwashing ambassador;

Karl Hofmann, president and CEO, Population Services International; with Earth Institute director, Jeffrey Sachs

Many factors affect a child’s ability to learn, from health problems and poor sanitation

to lack of communication with parents and accountability for teachers. Children who come to school hungry, sick or suffering as a result of poor oral hygiene have a difficult time learning. An important component of the initiative will be to create better nutrition, hygiene

and oral health practices in the schools and communities. “The role of a school is no longer

limited to the education of a child, says Nirupam Bajpai, director of the Columbia Global Center/South Asia. “It should facilitate the well-being and development of the entire community.” The project will draw on the experience of the Earth Institute’s Model Districts Health Project and on current scientific evidence and models of best professional practice.

The education project targets the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals’

call for all children to have access to a full course of education by 2015. There have so far

been significant strides: The number of children out of school worldwide dropped from 106 million in 1999 to 69 million in 2008, according to a 2010 UN report.

To bolster this progress, the IKEA Foundation is helping fund an Earth Institute pilot

program in India called the Model Districts Education Project: Access to Achievement, which aims to improve primary education and enrollment in two rural school districts. An estimated 4 million children will have better access to higher-quality education as a result.

The major goals of the five-year project are to improve teaching programs; to

implement evaluation of student achievement; and to reduce lower grade repetition and dropout rates. IKEA has pledged more than $2.5 million for the project—one of seven grants the foundation announced that are dedicated to improving health and education for children around the world.

“We seek to demonstrate that a relatively modest, targeted program of innovations

and resources geared toward community building, educational programming, and monitoring

and evaluation will significantly improve cost effectiveness and scalability,” says Bajpai. The center will implement the project in coordination with the government of India and the state

governments of Assam and Andhra Pradesh, the sites of the two projects. Participants include faculty from the Earth Institute and several Columbia University schools, among them ANNUAL DONOR REPORT 2013




Teachers College, the School of Social Work, the College of Physicians & Surgeons and the College of Dental Medicine.

The Model Districts Education Project is developing a roadmap for the project with

an emphasis on how system improvements and corrected interventions can accelerate

progress toward the first three Millennium Development Goals: ending extreme poverty,

providing all children access to primary education and eliminating gender disparity in primary and secondary education.

India has seen significant progress: As a result of recent efforts, nearly 20 million

children have been enrolled and the number of children out of school declined from 25 million in 2003 to 8.1 million in 2009. Gender and social gaps in enrollment have also narrowed, but millions of children still do not attend school, and retention rates and achievement scores have stagnated at low levels.

“Getting every child into school and making sure they get a good education are vitally

important steps in the fight to eliminate extreme poverty and to help today’s poor get a

foothold in the global economy,” Sachs says. “We are extremely grateful to the IKEA Foundation for their generosity and willingness to join this effort. The new program in these two school districts in India will serve as a model that we hope can be useful in districts around India, and in developing countries more generally.”

The Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment (VCC) was established in 2008, thanks to a generous grant from Vale, the world’s second-largest diversified mining

company. A joint center of Columbia Law School and the Earth Institute at Columbia University, the VCC is a leading forum on issues relating to foreign direct investment with an emphasis on the impact of such investment on sustainable development.

The VCC’s mission—to develop and disseminate practical approaches and solutions

to maximize the impact of international investment for sustainable development—is based

on the premise that sustainable international investment (SII) can lead to mutual benefits for investors and the citizens of host countries and that SII is the shared responsibility of investors, The Earth Institute, Columbia University


The Earth Institute, Columbia University

Itaipu Dam, Paraguay. Photo Credit: Jose Acero, SIPA Graduate

governments and other stakeholders. Its recent work with the Government of Paraguay is one

such example of how the VCC is using interdisciplinary research, advisory projects, multistakeholder dialogue and the development of resources and tools to undertake this mission.

Internationally, Paraguay is known for being the largest hydropower exporter in the

world, yet the domestic economy suffers from regular outages and high system losses.

Facing that disparity, the Government of Paraguay approached the Earth Institute in September 2012 for assistance in developing a high-level strategic plan to use its vast hydropower resources for sustainable economic development and to help diversify its economy.

Together with the Earth Institute’s Center on Globalization and Sustainable Development,

the VCC released a report in November 2013 that recommends a high-level hydro-based

sustainable development strategy based on the following pillars: (1) institutional reform of

the electricity sector; (2) drafting an industrial strategy based on Paraguay’s comparative advantages and reliable access to clean energy at competitive prices; (3) devising a plan to transition to a green economy; and (4) ensuring efficient revenue collection and management systems to fund this strategy.




PARTNERSHIPS FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT Introducing: The Earth Institute Leadership Council

Riders at Stinson Beach, on the way to the Climate Ride finale in San Francisco, California. Photo credit: Kip Pierson

The Earth Institute, Columbia University


Officially launched in September 2013, the Earth Institute Leadership Council (EILC) comprises sustainability experts, creative thinkers and business leaders who support the objectives of the Earth Institute by connecting its resources with new partnership opportunities and building awareness among their professional and social networks in New York and beyond. One example of the ways in which the EILC is working to do this is through Climate Ride, a nonprofit that organizes events to raise awareness and support sustainability, active transportation and environmental causes. The EILC participated in two Climate Ride events this year: Climate Ride California and Climate Ride NYC– DC, both long-distance charitable bike rides, with the bulk of the funds raised going to support Earth Institute initiatives. The East Coast event allows participants to meet with members of Congress at the U.S. Capitol Building to speak about climate change. EILC co-chair and Masters in Sustainability Management (MSSM) candidate Scott Miller participated in the NYC–DC Climate Ride in 2012 and captained the official Earth Institute team in 2013. Scott and three fellow Leadership Council members engaged their friends, family and professional networks to both join the Earth Institute’s Climate Ride team and to donate to the effort. Climate Ride participant Katy Mixter, who is assistant vice president of corporate sustainability at Citibank, inspired her like-minded colleague, Jennifer Hurford, a vice president for trade sales, to take their environmental passion “outside the bank and onto the bike.” Hurford says she joined the ride because “it is very clear that there are a host of issues affecting the health of our planet and economy. Right now, it is more important than ever to work toward a sustainable and green future.” “This is a great example of the potential of the Leadership Council to bring people together under the shared objective of sustainability,” says JD Capuano, EILC member and co-captain of the Climate Ride team. Miller notes that, “As a result of this collective effort we raised upwards of $20,000 to support Earth Institute initiatives—a truly remarkable sum.” The Earth Institute Leadership Council looks forward to expanding its network and to building upon this success. Pamela Quinlan, EILC member and MSSM alumna who works for Consolidated Edison in the energy markets and policy group, added, “It was an amazing experience to work together and to bring attention to such an important cause. I’m already thinking about training for Climate Ride 2014.” The Earth Institute, Columbia University

Schoolchildren in Assam. Photo Credit: Michael Foley




Thank You to Our Donors

July 1, 2012– June 30, 2013

We are grateful to our donors: the individuals, corporations, foundations,

Direct Expenses $139,610

Research $78,236 56%

foreign governments and multilateral organizations who are our partners in this important work. With their support, we continue to advance the necessary

General Administration $17,384 12%

science, technologies and policies needed to develop practical solutions for our planet’s complex challenges and to achieve sustainable development.

Instructional and Educational Activities $24,974 18% Operations, Maintenance, Equipment, Other $19,016 14%

Dollar amounts in thousands. Source: L4 ARC COB Summary


Direct Revenue $123,861

Government Grants $86,041 69%

250 Gifts $9,152 7%


Foundation Grants $21,929 18% Tuition and Fees ($377) 0%




Endowment Income $7,116 6%




Projected Actual

The Earth Institute, Columbia University











RESEARCH CENTERS AND PROGRAMS RESEARCH UNITS OF THE EARTH INSTITUTE Agriculture and Food Security Center Center for Climate Systems Research (CCSR) Center for Hazards and Risk Research (CHRR) Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) Center for National Health Development in Ethiopia (CNHDE) Center for Rivers and Estuaries Center for Sustainable Urban Development (CSUD) Center for the Study of Science and Religion (CSSR) Center on Globalization and Sustainable Development (CGSD) Columbia Climate Center Columbia Water Center Earth Engineering Center

RESEARCH AND ACADEMIC PROGRAMS OF THE EARTH INSTITUTE Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions Cross-Cutting Initiative (CCI) Earth Clinic Program on Child WellBeing and Resilience Millennium Cities Initiative Millennium Villages Project Program on Science, Technology, and Global Development Program on Sustainable Mobility Program on Sustainability Policy and Management M.A. in Climate and Society M.P.A. in Development Practice M.P.A. in Environmental Science and Policy M.S. in Sustainability Management Ph.D. in Sustainable Development Undergraduate Special Concentration and Major in Sustainable Development




Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED)

Jeffrey D. Sachs Director Steven Cohen Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer

Gina Ackerman Content Director and Lead Editor

Cooperative Institute for Climate Applications and Research (CICAR) Laboratory of Populations Urban Design Lab (UDL) Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment

AFFILIATES AND CONSORTIA Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity Black Rock Forest Consortium Center for Climate Change Law (CCCL) Connect to Learn Global Association of Master’s in Development Practice Programs NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS)

Peter Schlosser Deputy Director and Director of Research Sean C. Solomon Associate Director for Earth Systems Science and Director of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the Lamont campus

Kevin Krajick Editorial Adviser Nancy E. Sherman Copy Editor Stislow Design Design Katherine Schulman Gift Data Manager

MANAGEMENT TEAM Steven Cohen Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer David C. Dvorak Director, Finance and Administration Casey Supple Director, Funding Initiatives Joanna Rubinstein Assistant Director, International Programs George Sarrinikolaou Director, Office of Academic and Research Programs Erin Trowbridge Director, Communications

The Earth Institute Center for Environmental Sustainability (EICES) International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy (LCSE) National Center for Disaster Preparedness

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Science and Solutions for Sustainable Development  

2013 Annual Donor Report

Science and Solutions for Sustainable Development  

2013 Annual Donor Report