ENVIRONMENT & CLIMATE CHANGE
The ClassACT HR73 Land Trust Action Group was formed to engage classmates, other Harvard alumni, and Harvard resources in a holistic approach to informing and delivering sustainable Climate Action. We are working to create projects and tools to support local, national and international opportunities for biodiversity conservation and eco-restoration while supporting the health of indigenous communities and the planet. We expect to leverage our strengths and impact through collaboration with like-minded environmental resources and on-the-ground stewards of the land, communities, and generations of eco-entrepreneurs.
Collaborations in development:
For more info or inquiries about joining the Land Trust Group, contact Mike Mayer (firstname.lastname@example.org).
In the early 1990s, members of the United Nations gathered to design an international treaty to conserve biodiversity and mitigate the threat of species extinction. The Convention on Biological Diversity, which was drafted with leadership from the US as the most comprehensive agreement ever written to reduce the global loss of biodiversity, was later agreed to by all participating countries. President Bill Clinton signed this monumental treaty in 1993, but it has never been ratified by the required 2/3rds of the US Senate. The US stands starkly isolated as a non-party, harming our world image and our ability to affect global conservation and sustainability efforts.
Today, with nearly one million species at risk of extinction, all participating countries are moving forward with plans for the implementation of biodiversity conservation measures throughout the world without US involvement. In December of 2022, 1973 classmate John Kress attended the UN 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) on Biological Diversity in Montreal where, with other US “observers,” he was able to listen to the proceedings and have informal discussions with attendees from across the globe. He came away from Montreal convinced that the US must ratify the treaty in order to have a seat at the table and a say in the process of developing the new Global Biodiversity Framework, which was the product of COP15. The US has expertise and resources that must be included in the on-going plans for biodiversity conservation.
As a result of our ClassACT Forums, "Half Earth: Conserving Biodiversity from the Deep Sea to Mt. Everest" and "Protecting Half-Earth: Opportunities and Obstacles," calls for action sounded across the Harvard community. John has been joined by five other classmates: John Adams, Bob Dreher, Henrietta Lodge, Sharon Tisher and Deane Wang, to form a ClassAct HR73 action group to focus on the US ratification of the treaty on Biological Diversity. The goal is to take a variety of actions in the next two years to exert significant influence over the Senate to obtain the necessary 67 votes to ratify the treaty. This result is critical to make sure that the US will participate as a full member at the next COP in 2024, which will hammer out significant steps in the implementation of the treaty with global impact. It is in the interests of the US, its people, and its businesses that the US is there as a voting party.
FROM THE CHARLES RIVER TO HALF-EARTH: 50 YEARS TO 50 PERCENT
CLASSACT HR73 REUNION ENVIRONMENT SYMPOSIUM
June 1, 2023
In his 2016 book Half-Earth: Our Planet's Fight for Life, Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson (1929-2021) proposed the designation of half of Earth’s surface, both terrestrial and marine, as a natural reserve to safeguard the remaining biodiversity of the planet. Classmates of HR73, who are members of the ClassACT HR73 Working Group on the Environment and Climate Change and have devoted 50 years of their lives, energies, and careers to environmental issues, presented their thoughts and experiences on how we must make significant changes in our lifestyles, utilization of natural resources, economies, cultural practices, and political priorities to achieve Wilson's vision of protection of 50% of the Earth. With backgrounds in environment, law, government, medicine, business, and academics, discussion focused on action that can be taken through ratification of international biodiversity treaties and local to global land trusts as vehicles for species and ecosystem protection.
Panelists included: John Adams, Jesse Ausubel, Kimball Chen, Lindsay Clarkson, Bob Dreher, Marion Dry, John Kress, Henrietta Wigglesworth Lodge, Anne MacKinnon, Mike Mayer, Roger Myerson, and Sharon Tisher.
PROTECTING HALF-EARTH: OPPORTUNITIES AND OBSTACLES
April 17, 2023
The second, follow-up ClassACT HR73 Forum again brought together a variety of expertise and perspectives to address how Half-Earth will unfold in the future, focusing on the challenges of conserving the planet. The panel of experts include Kiani Akina, Class of 2025 and an Environmental Science and Public Policy Major at Harvard College; Jason Clay ‘73, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Markets and Food, and Executive Director, Markets Institute for the World Wildlife Fund; David Foster, Ph.D., Director Emeritus, Harvard Forest, Harvard University; and Cristián Samper, PhD., Managing Director and Leader for Nature Solutions at the Bezos Earth Fund. W. John Kress ’73, Ph.D., Distinguished Scientist and Curator Emeritus, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, who moderated the first ClassACT HR73 “Half-Earth” panel last fall, will lead the discussion of the second panel on April 17 as well.
HALF-EARTH: CONSERVING BIODIVERSITY FROM THE DEEP SEA TO MT. EVEREST
October 20, 2022Moderators Jesse H. Ausubel ‘73, Director of the Program for Human Environment at the Rockefeller University, and Dr. W. John Kress ‘73, Distinguished Scientist and Curator Emeritus at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, led a powerful discussion with three fellow classmates about the existential threats to biodiversity and the possible ways to preserve species and their habitats. The distinguished panel included Broughton Coburn '73, a Visiting Assistant Professor for Colorado College and an author and environmental conservationist who has helped to protect plants and wildlife on the Himalayan plain and in the valleys and mountains of Wyoming; Sharon S. Tisher '73, who for 27 years has taught environmental law and policy courses at the University of Maine while chairing boards for environmental non-profits like the National Resources Council of Maine and compiling a climate chronology; and Dr. Dean Wang '73, Associate Professor Emeritus at the University of Vermont, who has researched biogeochemistry and nutrient cycling as well as teaching about sustainability. Drawing inspiration from the late biologist E.O. Wilson’s concept of “Half Earth,” they explored ways to realize Wilson’s vision of protecting half of the Earth’s land and oceans in order to prevent the extinction of more species, champion biodiversity and save the planet.
CAN 21ST CENTURY CAPITALISM SOLVE SCHOOL FAILURE, CLIMATE CHANGE, AND INCOME INEQUALITY?
December 16, 2021Moderator Leigh Hafrey ’73, Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and former co-Master of Mather House, led a stirring discussion about imaginative ways that impact investing and partnerships between public and private investors can help remedy poverty, failing schools and the climate crisis. The distinguished panel included Roger W. Ferguson, Jr. ’73, the former Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the former President and CEO of TIAA; Natasha Lamb, Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Arjuna Capital; and Tracy Palandjian, CEO and Co-Founder of Social Finance and former Vice-Chair of the Harvard Board of Overseers.
CLIMATE CHANGE AND WATER CRISES: DROUGHT, FLOOD, CONTAMINATION...AND WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT
October 25, 2021
We bought together a panel of experts, moderated by Erum Sattar, Program Director of the Sustainable Water Management Program (SWM) at Tufts University, and including Andy Sawyer HR’73, Assistant Chief Counsel of the California State Water Resources Control Board, Jeff Hébert, President of HR&A, Kelsey Leonard, water scientist, legal scholar, policy expert, writer, and enrolled citizen of the Shinnecock Nation, and William Moomaw, Emeritus Professor of international environmental policy at Tufts University, to discuss these disparate and interrelated problems. Together, we aimed to attain greater understanding of the immense challenges to global and local water security and to begin to chart future actions.Learn more.
Below, we highlight classmates and initiatives whose work fits into the category of Environment & Climate Change. Scroll through and see if you recognize anyone! And if you're interested in participating in any of the initiatives below, send us an email at email@example.com and we will connect you.
Environment & Climate Working Group
Linda Coman Rock
John Kress (lead)
Sharon (Shurts) Tisher
Henrietta Wigglesworth Lodge