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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.

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.”

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

Session 8: Art and Sustainability

Patricia Watts, curator, writer and founder, ecoartspace

Patricia Watts is a curator, and founder of ecoartspace, a national nonprofit art organization specializing in artists who engage the human-nature interface. Conceived of as as a venue where visitors could learn about the principles of ecology through immersive environments created by artists, ecoartspace has produced more than 50 exhibitions, 200 programs, working with 1,000+ artists in 15 states nationally and 8 countries internationally.

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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