The Earth Institute is home to some of the world’s top experts who are working on solutions to alleviate the type of poverty that kills millions of people a year, mostly from preventable diseases that are complicated by malnutrition and dehydration.
In January 2005, many Earth Institute scientists were part of a 266-person team of global development experts who helped devise the most comprehensive strategy ever put forward for combating global poverty, hunger and disease -- a blueprint for achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
The report, “Investing in Development: A Practical Plan to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals,” was the result of three years of work led by the UN Millennium Project, headed by Jeffrey D. Sachs. The report includes specific cost-effective measures that together could cut extreme poverty in half and radically improve the lives of at least one billion people in poor countries by 2015.
The Millennium Villages project offers a bold, innovative model for helping rural African communities lift themselves out of extreme poverty. The Millennium Villages themselves are proving that by fighting poverty at the village level through community-led development, rural Africa can achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and escape from the poverty trap. By applying this scalable model to give them a hand up, not a hand out, people of this generation can get on the ladder of development and start climbing on their own.
The Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) at the Earth Institute has been working on data to identify and integrate the complex factors contributing to poverty in countries around the world. These data can help poverty experts find out precisely where the world’s poor live, and can help them diagnose the causes of poverty more accurately and formulate responses more effectively.
The Center for Hazards and Risks Research at the Earth Institute (CHRR) is working to build understanding of risks, probability, and barriers to risk reduction, with an ultimate goal of reducing the suffering of the poorest during times of crisis such as floods, earthquake, or droughts happen in their communities.
The Earth Institute works with many African nations to develop management plans to qualify for Global Fund resources. In Rwanda, for example, experts are working directly with the Minister of Health to scale up AIDS intervention.
In addition, Awash Teklehaimanot, the Director of the Malaria Program at Columbia and a member of the Task Force on Malaria for the UN Millennium Project, provides technical support to malaria-endemic countries in designing, funding, and implementing health care infrastructures focusing on malaria.
Closer to home, Patrick Kinney researches health impacts of airborne particulates in the New York area, which disproportionately affect the poor through conditions such as asthma.
Approaches similar to that taken in Gujarat, India (see above) are also being employed by Earth Institute experts in several other areas of the world. In 2003, the Earth Institute was active in the Dominican Republic, Ghana, and several Latin American countries in the Andes region, among others.
The Ph.D. Program in Sustainable Development Many of the most important policy challenges facing the planet require a central focus on sustainability and development. This program uniquely integrates natural and social sciences into a curriculum with requirements in a variety of social and natural science fields including economics, political science, and environmental science.
The Fellows Program is the premier research program in the world for those dedicated to a better understanding of critical scientific and social issues related to global sustainable development. Postdoctoral fellows join interdisciplinary teams of outstanding, committed scientists from a diverse group of Earth Institute research units and departments across Columbia University.
International development practitioners — professionals who work for the United Nations, government ministries and nongovernmental organizations, for example — face complex issues such as conflict, disease control, and climate change that increasingly demand core knowledge of both natural and social sciences, as well as substantial in-the-field experience. The Commission on Education for International Development Professionals is a groundbreaking initiative mandated to help change the course of development education and create bold new leaders working to achieve a sustainable world.