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Sustainability group holds annual meeting at MIT

From January 19-22, MIT will host this year's annual meeting of the Alliance for Global Sustainability (AGS). "Agenda for Sustainability: Translating Knowledge into Action and Learning to Lead" will focus on how to communicate environmental research results effectively to corporations and policymakers who can put the research into immediate use. The conference will also showcase some of the research underway at the AGS.

Scholars at the three AGS partner institutions -- MIT, the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology and the University of Tokyo -- are working with leaders in business and industry, government and nongovernmental organizations to address the challenges of global sustainable development. Another AGS goal is helping students at the three universities to be informed, competent leaders for sustainable development, regardless of their fields.

"The Alliance for Global Sustainability's research is focused on providing input and solutions to pressing global sustainability issues. It's through this conference that we hope to expand our ability to translate that research into practice," said David Marks MIT's coordinator for the AGS. He is the James Mason Crafts Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and director of the Center for Environmental Initiatives.

More than 300 participants -- including academics from the three partner universities as well as representatives from business, industry, government and nongovernment organizations -- will discuss how universities can provide timely and productive input to environmental sustainability issues. Traditional approaches to dissemination of scientific information by academia are too slow in today's world, where daily decisions are made on the environment by governments and corporations. Many of those decisions are made without full benefit of existing scientific information.

Conference sessions will include "Leveraging Change: Perspectives from Educators, Legislators, Media, Non-Government Organizations and Foundations" and "Specific Challenges and Opportunities for Developing Countries." There will be working groups on outreach and communication for AGS projects in four focus areas -- climate change, energy, mobility, and water and food -- as well as "reports from the field" on a variety of AGS projects, including a special presentation on the Tokyo Half Project, which focuses on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Speakers and panelists will include Jack Gibbons, former director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy; Charles Holliday, chairman and CEO of DuPont and chairman of the World Business Council on Sustainability; Bjorn Stigson, executive director of the World Business Council on Sustainable Development; Eva Karal, president and CEO of the National Institute of Technology; and Institute Professor John Deutch and Professor Lawrence Susskind.

The meeting will take place in the Tang Center and other rooms in Building E51. For more information or to register, visit the AGS conference web site or call x8-6368.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on January 12, 2000.

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