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The Sustainability Laboratory’s inaugural conversation series, Exploring the Sustainability Challenge, features thought leaders working on some of the most urgent issues facing the planet. Get to know the speakers for each session, below.

Session 1: Setting the Context: Sustainability is a System’s State

Michael Ben-Eli, founder, The Sustainability Laboratory

Michael Ben-Eli is the founder of The Sustainability Laboratory, established in order to advance the concept of sustainability, expanding prospects and producing positive, life affirming impacts on people and ecosystems in all parts of the world. Prior to launching The Lab, Michael pioneered applications of systems thinking and cybernetics in management and organization, and has worked on synthesizing strategy issues in many parts of the world and in diverse institutional settings. Michael is the author of the widely-acclaimed five core sustainability principles, and he is leading the development of The Lab as a worldwide network of ecozone-based activity centers.

Click here to view the recording of Session 1.

Session 2: The Science of Climate Change

Jennifer Francis, Senior Scientist, Woodwell Climate Research Center

Jennifer Francis is a Senior Scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center. Her research focuses on the Arctic, and the connections between rapid Arctic warming and weather patterns in mid-latitudes. She is also involved in science communication and outreach work, including two publications in Scientific American, and regular quotes in major media outlets. In 2019, she testified to the congressional hearing for the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology in Washington DC, with the presentation: “The State of Climate Science and Why it Matters.”

Click here to view the recording of Session 2.

Session 3: Why is Biodiversity so Important?

Tom Lovejoy, President of the Amazon Biodiversity Center, Senior Fellow at the United Nations Foundation

Tom Lovejoy, known as the “Godfather of Biodiversity”, is a conservation biologist. He is the founder and president of the Amazon Biodiversity Center, and a Senior Fellow at the United Nations Foundation. He has served on science and environmental councils under the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton administrations, and is credited with bringing the global tropical deforestation to public attention, as well as coining the term “biological diversity.”

Click here to view the recording of Session 3.

Session 4: Combating Desertification

Uriel Safriel, former Director of the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and former Chair of the Science and Technology Committee of the United Nations Convention on Combatting Desertification

Uriel Safriel is a Professor Emeritus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. His research areas are marine and desert populations, and community and ecosystem ecology, predominately studying birds and mollusks. His appointments include Chief Scientist of Israel Nature and Parks Authority, Director of the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Chair of Israel Man and Biosphere National Committee, and Chair of the Science and Technology Committee of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, and its Science-Policy Interface. He is also a member of The Lab’s Advisory Board.

Click here to view the recording of Session 4.

Session 5: The Economics of Sustainability

Hazel Henderson, futurist, economics iconoclast, best-selling author, and producer for the public television series “Ethical Markets”

Hazel Henderson is a futurist and an economics iconoclast. She is the founder of Ethical Markets Media, a media company promoting the emergence of a sustainable, green, more ethical and just economy worldwide, and the producer of the Ethical Markets television series. She is the author of several books, including the award-winning Ethical Markets: Growing the Green Economy, and her writing has appeared in newspapers and journals around the world.

Click here to view the recording of Session 5.

Session 6: Sustainability in the Developing World

Ashok Khosla, former co-chair of United Nations Environment Programme’s International Resource Panel (UNEP-IRP), and Founder and Chairman of Development Alternatives

Ashok Khosla is an environmentalist and sustainable development expert. He is the founder and chairman of Development Alternatives, a research and action organization striving to deliver socially equitable, environmentally sound and economically scalable development outcomes, and the former co-chair of United Nations Environment Programme’s International Resource Panel. He is also a member of The Lab’s Advisory Board.

Click here to view the recording of Session 6.

Session 7: Urbanization and Sustainability

Jonathan Rose, urban planner, author, co-founder of the Garrison Institute, and Founder and President of Jonathan Rose Companies, LLC

Jonathan Rose is an urban planner and is considered a visionary in urban development. He is the Founder and President of Jonathan Rose Companies, LLC, known for developing affordable, green, and environmentally responsible communities. He is the author of The Well-Tempered City: What Modern Science, Ancient Civilizations, and Human Nature Teach Us About the Future of Urban Life. He co-founded the Garrison Institute, and he sits on the Boards of various nonprofit organizations.

Click here to view the recording of Session 7.

Session 8: Art and Sustainability

Patricia Watts, curator, writer and founder, ecoartspace

Patricia Watts is a curator and writer. She is the founder of ecoartspace, an international arts organization specializing in artists who engage the human-nature interface. She has curated over thirty exhibitions related to art and ecology, including I AM WATER (2021), Performative Ecologies (2020), Contemplating OTHER (2018), Enchantment (2016), FiberSHED (2015), Shifting Baselines (2013), MAKE:CRAFT (2010), and Hybrid Fields (2006). Watts has delivered numerous workshops and lectures related to arts and the environment, and is the author of dozens of essays for a variety of online and printed publications.

Click here to view the recording of Session 8.

Session 9: Urgent Need For Change

Sir Robert Watson, CMG, FRS, scientific advisor, scientist, and lead author of the February 2021 U.N. Report Making Peace with Nature

Robert Watson’s career has included scientific advisor in the Office of Science and Technology Policy, White House; chief scientist, World Bank; chief scientific advisor, UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; and strategic director for the Tyndall Center, University of East Anglia, UK.  He has chaired, co-chaired or directed the WMO/UNEP stratospheric ozone depletion assessments, Global Biodiversity Assessment, Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, UK National Ecosystem Assessment and its Follow-on, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Intergovernmental Assessment of Agricultural Scientific and Technology for Development, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, and UNEP’s Making Peace with Nature. Awards include a Knights Bachelor (2012), Companion of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (2003); Fellow of the Royal Society (2011), member of the American Philosophical Society (2020), honorary member of the AMS (2021), UN Champion of the World for Science and Innovation (2014), the Asahi Glass Blue Planet Prize (2010).

Session 9 – This recording will be available shortly. Please stay tuned.

Session 10: Only 2% More!

Robert Rhys Parry is Senior Content R&D at Sapienship, a global impact company co-founded by Yuval Noah Harari and Itzik Yahav.

Jason Rhys Parry is Senior Content R&D at Sapienship, a global impact company co-founded by Yuval Noah Harari and Itzik Yahav, where he helps advance solutions to humanity’s most pressing problems. Jason is also a Visiting Research Fellow at the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature in Kyoto, Japan. Previously, he was a visiting assistant professor at Purdue University, where he led seminars on existential risk and wrote and directed a play for a mixed audience of human and AI spectators. He has received grants and awards from English PEN, the National Science Foundation, and the Future Architecture Platform, and published widely on environmental philosophy, sustainable design, and the geopolitics of technology. 

Session 10 – Upcoming Event: Wednesday, November 16, 2022 @6:00 p.m.

Producer of Exploring the Sustainability Challenge

Elizabeth Thompson, former Executive Director, the Buckminster Fuller Institute

Elizabeth Thompson is a Consulting Advisor for various nonprofit organizations. She builds and leads organizations that play an important role in exploring deep questions at the heart of contemporary culture and ideas in the context of creating a sustainable future. She is the former Executive Director of the Buckminster Fuller Institute, and the Founding Director of the Buckminster Fuller Challenge Prize program, which ran from 2007-2017 and awarded a $100,000 prize annually to visionary, whole-systems design solutions.

For more information about Exploring the Sustainability Challenge and to register for the event, click here. We hope to see you there!

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