Advancing Environmental Decisions

Woods magnifies the impact of Stanford’s breakthrough environmental research by reaching beyond campus to inform and advance environmental decision-making. Through forums, workshops and briefings we convene diverse public and private sector experts – from Stanford and beyond campus – who can collectively identify challenges along with the research and solutions needed to address them. These interactions add new dimensions, in-field perspectives and currency to Stanford research. In turn, Woods staff and our affiliated scholars translate and disseminate new findings for those who make and implement decisions affecting the environment. Read on for highlights from our recent work to engage business leaders, policymakers, public servants and others in the process of developing, scaling up and implementing solutions.


The business of sustainability

The Stanford Woods Institute hosted its inaugural Business of Sustainability Summit in May 2014, engaging a diverse cohort of 54 CEOs, chief sustainability officers and business unit heads from 47 companies, along with Woods faculty representing all seven Stanford schools. This convening stimulated dialogue, built valuable connections and allowed business leaders and Woods faculty who are trailbrazers and pioneers in sustainability to share innovative ideas and strategy. Read more.

Reducing climate risks

A Stanford Woods Institute-organized panel of experts led a robust dialogue on mitigating as well as preparing for the risks posed by climate change at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Recent research on extreme weather, food security, drought and new technologies was explored at the September event, which drew a cross-sector audience of nearly 100 policy- and decision-makers from federal agencies, environmental non-profits, development banks and other research institutions. Read more and watch the video.

Dealing with drought

California Gov. Jerry Brown joined a wide range of water experts at Stanford for discussion of policy prescriptions and new research on improving water management. Panelists at the October talks, including Woods Co-Director and Senior Fellow Buzz Thompson (Law), outlined ways to achieve realistic water pricing, infrastructure financing, consistent regulation, technological innovation and improved conservation. Read more.

Advising a megacity

Newsha Ajami, Director of Urban Water Policy with Stanford’s program on Water in the West, was invited by Brazilian officials to help them grapple with their worst drought in history and a resulting water crisis in the megacity of São Paulo. Ajami met with representatives of Brazil’s government, federal and state water agencies, Brazilian universities, the U.S. embassy and other organizations. Read more.

Informing food security policy

William Wrigley Professor Rosamond Naylor (Earth System Science), director of the Center on Food Security and the Environment (FSE), briefed UN and other international policy experts on key elements from her recently published book, The Evolving Sphere of Food Security. In December Naylor and FSE faculty affiliate Stephen Stedman met with representatives of the World Food Program, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Fund for Agricultural Development - organizations that often work together on issues of agriculture, food assistance and rural development. Read more.

Briefing drought responders

Upon receiving Woods research briefs, California officials invited Senior Fellow Noah Diffenbaugh (Earth system science) to brief stakeholders including Natural Resources Secretary John Laird, as well as staff scientists and the Governor’s Interagency Drought Task Force, on his lab’s recent studies of the linkages between climate change and California’s persistent drought. Read more (pdf).

Nature and decision-making

Conservation and natural resource experts gathered at Resources for the Future in Washington, D.C. to discuss and field questions about the latest research on factoring ecosystem services into decision-making. Woods organized the June 2015 event to showcase a series of 13 papers produced by researchers associated with the Natural Capital Project for a landmark special section of the Proceedings of the Natural Academies of Science on “Nature as Capital.” Read more.

Expanding worldviews

More than a dozen Stanford Woods Institute faculty were involved in teaching an online and on-campus course curated for decision-makers to learn new strategies, tools and technologies for integrating science into their work. The course, “Environmental Risk and Resilience,” was offered by Worldview Stanford in partnership with the Stanford Woods Institute and the School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences. Read more.

On Camera

New Directions for U.S. Water Policy forum

California Gov. Jerry Brown joined water experts at a forum co-organized by Woods to discuss policy prescriptions and new research on improving water management. More …

Woods convenes ‘Business of Sustainability’ Summit

The Stanford Woods Institute hosted its inaugural Business of Sustainability Summit in May 2014, engaging a diverse cohort of 54 top CEOs, chief sustainability officers and business unit heads from 47 companies, along with faculty representing all seven Stanford schools. More …

Senior Fellow Noah Diffenbaugh “helps people understand the science of the drought, and that is no easy thing.”

- CA Natural Resources Secretary John Laird

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