Photo Credit: REUTERS/Yonathan Van der Voort
Today, June 5th, marks World Environment Day, an annual event that traces its origins to June 5, 1972 when the first UN Conference on the Human Environment took place in Stockholm, Sweden. Since its inception at the Stockholm Conference, June 5 has served as a major platform for the UN to promote awareness and actions designed to protect the environment. The theme for this year’s World Environment Day, hosted by Côte d’Ivoire in partnership with the Netherlands, focuses on the search for solutions to plastic pollution. According to organizers of the #BeatPlasticPollution campaign, fully half of the more than 400 million tons of plastic generated annually around the world is intended for a single use. More than 90 percent of that amount is never recycled, resulting in inundated landfills and waterways. On top of that, microplastics taint food, water, and air in ways that may jeopardize human health.
At the Policy School at Northeastern University, our dedicated professors and students are making a significant impact nationally and internationally. This year, our focus aligns with the global campaign to #BeatPlasticPollution. From May 25th-June 3rd 2023, Policy School Director Maria Ivanova was part of the International Science Council’s delegation at the 2nd session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution (INC-2) toward creating an international Plastics Treaty. She also provided science advice to Rwanda’s delegation. Learn more about her contributions in this article.
Faculty and students engage in a broad range of environmental initiatives on climate resilience and sustainability. Below are some notable contributions:
Brian Helmuth and Mark Patterson: Northeastern University is proud to be part of the world’s largest undersea science station, providing a unique co-op experience. Professors and marine scientists Brian Helmuth and Mark Patterson are Northeastern’s chief science advisors for this project; this opportunity will offer students an unparalleled experience to study marine ecosystems. Read the article to learn more about this exciting endeavor and its impact.
Jennie Stephens: Jennie Stephens was featured in Greta Thunberg’s book on climate change, “The Climate Book”. Stephens focused her chapter on opposing another approach to climate change. Geoengineering, also known as climate engineering, is the large-scale intervention in and manipulation of Earth’s climate system to slow climate change. Check out the link to learn more about this exciting collaboration.
Further, Jennie Stephens discusses the future of climate policy, emphasizing a “people-first” perspective and the need for larger societal structural transformation in the article “All Policy is Climate Policy.” Read the article here.
Joan Fitzgerald: Led the inaugural Boston Climate Progress Report (November 2022), which noted that Boston’s 2030 climate goal might be out of reach. Joan Fitzgerald’s research critically assesses the city’s progress towards its climate objectives, highlighting the need for urgent action. Read the article to gain insights into the challenges Boston faces and the potential solutions that can be implemented.
Laura Kuhl: Laura Kuhl analyzes the unreported dangers of chemicals used in fracking. She discusses how data studies can help advocacy and activism to shift the power dynamics with fossil fuel lobbyists. Read the article to gain insight into the extent of this issue and its potential consequences.
Laura Kuhl, Moira Zellner, and Julia Hopkins: Discover the fascinating concept of the “emerald tutu” of floating wetlands, developed by Professors Julia Hopkins, Moira Zellner, and Laura Kuhl. This innovative approach showcases the potential of nature-based solutions in mitigating environmental challenges. Read the article to learn more about this unique concept and its benefits.
Moira Zellner, Rebecca Riccio and Stephen Flynn: With the help of a $1 million federal grant from USAID, Northeastern University is partnering with three communities in Barbados and Dominica over the next two years to develop resilience plans to adapt to climate change and extreme weather events. This grant, awarded to Stephen Flynn, Director of the Global Resilient Institute, and Policy School professors Rebecca Riccio, Director of the Social Impact Lab, and Moira Zellner, Director of Participatory Modeling and Data Science and Co-Director of the NULab, is in collaboration with University of West Indies and University of Hawai’i. Framed by Northeastern’s principles for ethical community engagement, the team’s effort centers around community-led initiatives to properly identify and prioritize the various needs communities face, and to assess and creatively build on their own capacities. Read the article for more information.
Olga Skaredina: Olga is a PhD student in Public Policy doing research on the role of civil society in global environmental governance, particularly youth engagement with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). As a part of the Steering Committee of the Children and Youth Major Group to UNEP, she facilitates youth discussions on the science-policy interface and contributes to bringing more visibility to youth perspectives on international environmental policies. Read more about the Formal Youth Engagement Mechanism to the United Nations Environment Programme.
Sara Constantino: Can shifting social norms help mitigate climate change? Professor Sara Constantino explores the transformative power of social norms in addressing this global challenge and how “demand-side changes can be integral components of broader climate policy by creating public acceptance for new measures and accelerating or strengthening their impacts.” Read more to discover how shifting behavior can contribute to a sustainable future.
At the Policy School at Northeastern, we remain committed to advancing environmental knowledge and driving positive change. On this World Environment Day, we celebrate the remarkable contributions of our faculty and students and the collective effort to protect our planet.