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Susskind receives Global Environment Award

Lawrence E. Susskind
Lawrence E. Susskind

Lawrence E. Susskind, the Ford Professor of Urban Studies and Environmental Studies in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP), has received this year's International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) Global Environment Award. The award will be conferred in Seoul, South Korea at the IAIA's annual meeting in June 2007.

IAIA is an organization of environmental and social decision-makers with 2,500 members from more than 120 nations.  The meeting in Seoul is expected to attract more than 700 delegates from 80 nations to address this year's conference theme of "Power, Poverty and Sustainability."

This year marks the seventh time that the Global Environment Award has been given. Previous winners have been some of the world's most significant figures in the environmental field. Award recipients have included Maurice Strong, Jan Pronk, Mostafa Tolba, Margot Wallstrom, Gus Speth and Wangari Maathai.

Thanking the organization for the award, Susskind said, "IAIA has been an important force for change. I'm honored by their recognition. Impact assessment is used around the world to promote better environmental decision-making. And, assessments are an important means of achieving greater transparency and increased public engagement."

Susskind was selected for the honor because of his "outstanding, sustained and unique contributions to the field," according to IAIA materials. Award committee chair Jean-Roger Mercier notes in particular Susskind's founding of the Consensus Building Institute (CBI), which has assisted in the resolution of hundreds of seemingly intractable environmental disputes. CBI is currently involved with a wide range of resource management disputes including the mediation of Bedouin land claims in Israel, air quality management in Mexico City and strategies for resolving facility-siting disputes in Korea. Mercier also cited Susskind's role in training more than 60 Ph.D.s who are now leaders in the field. In recent years, nine of these students have been members of the Martin Family Society of Fellows in Environmental Sustainability administered by the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment.

Susskind has been at MIT for 35 years and currently serves as director of the Environmental Policy and Planning Group in DUSP; he has also been chairman of the department. He was extensively involved with the Mexico City project led by Professor Mario Molina and coordinated by LFEE and the Alliance for Global Sustainability. Susskind is also one of the founders of the interuniversity Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, where he co-directs the MIT-Harvard Public Disputes Program. He is the author or co-author of 15 books.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 4, 2007 (download PDF).

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