Following is a summary of projects undertaken by InterEnvironment Institute, formerly known as the California Institute of Public Affairs, since its founding in 1969:
Natural Neighbors: Connecting people, nature, and culture through regional conservation alliances. See www.NaturalNeighbors.org.
Urban dimensions of nature conservation (2003-present). See Our IUCN Connection and Urban Specialist Group.
Climate change (late 1980s-present). See Climate change.
California natural resource agencies learning from other countries’ experience (1999-present): Several Institute projects have looked at models in other countries that California natural resource agencies could learn from. These models include Groundwork, a highly successful British environmental partnership organization; European parks that protect large-scale working landscapes; and the Australian Healthy Parks Healthy People program mentioned above. Among publications resulting from this work are a report, An International Perspective on California State Parks (2000), and an article in the journal Parks, California’s Urban Protected Areas: Progress despite daunting pressures (2001).
A sustainable world: Defining sustainable development (1993-1995): For IUCN, the Institute organized an international workshop in Buenos Aires, Argentina, that produced A Sustainable World: Defining and measuring sustainable development (17 authors from five continents, 1995). Choice (American Library Association) said the book "should be read by anyone interested in the future of the world’s human/economic/environmental interactions." Lynton Keith Caldwell, then the dean of environmental policy scholars, wrote in Environmental Conservation that "This book provides perhaps the most coherent answer we have yet had to clarifying the concept of sustainability.”
Ethics and public policy: “Raising Annoying Questions” (1995-1996 and continuing): With encouragement and support from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and in cooperation with IUCN’s ethics group, the Institute explored how systematic consideration of ethics might be built into decision-making, focusing on environmental policy. The results of this international project were presented in a report (summarized in an online paper), at conferences, and in an article in a university-press book. The online paper, Raising Annoying Questions: Why values should be built into decision-making, is one of the most visited pages on the Institute’s Web site. On behalf of IUCN’s ethics group, the Institute also produced a book, AdvancingEthics for Living Sustainably (1994).
Environmental strategy and planning (1991-1996): In addition to the work on defining sustainable development and on ethics described above, other activities resulting from the Institute’s providing the secretariat for what was then called the IUCN Commission on Environmental Strategy and Planning included working groups on:
Landscape conservation: Focused on protecting “cultural landscapes,” places created by interaction of humans and nature, often over centuries. Among its products is a book, Threatened Landscapes: Conserving Cultural Environments (2000).
Strategies for sustainability: Advised IUCN staff and others on writing national strategies for sustainable development. In addition to the strategies, a synthesis was produced: Strategies for National Sustainable Development (1994).
Tools for sustainability. Held workshops and conducted research on cutting-edge methods of promoting sustainable development. Products included What Works: An annotated bibliography of case studies of sustainable development (1993).
Population and environment: Worked closely with IUCN staff on field projects relating population and environmental issues.
In addition, the Institute organized IUCN’s first workshop on business and the environment (Washington, D.C., 1991), and edited and published a newsletter for the commission, Environmental Strategy (1991-1996).
An ecosystem approach to natural resource conservation (1990-1992): At the request of U.S. federal and California state officials, the Institute convened a policy dialogue to help design and build consensus on a new bioregional, collaborative approach to natural resource planning and management in California. The eventual result was the California Biodiversity Council. Publications from the Institute’s project included “An Ecosystem Approach to Natural Resource Conservation in California” (1991).
“The Power of Convening” (1989-1990 and continuing): Under IUCN auspices, the Institute brought together two dozen practitioners and scholars from seven countries in a three-day workshop at Claremont Graduate University in California to discuss the role of collaborative policy forums in promoting sustainable development. The book that resulted, as well as its title, The Power of Convening, has had an important influence in the IUCN community, in which “convening power” has become a common phrase. An article from the book, "Convening Thinkers and Doers: Sweden’s Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation," is one of the most visited pages on the Institute’s Web site. The Institute continues to use and promote “the power of convening” and looks for other examples of collaborative, as opposed to conflict-based, approaches to problem solving. More: The power of convening.
The California Forum on Hazardous Materials (1985-88 and beyond): Co-sponsored by the Governor of California, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the California Medical Association, and other officials and associations, this Institute project resulted in a state government program to assist small businesses in complying with toxic waste requirements; and several publications, including Breaking Political Gridlock: California’s Experiment in Public-Private Cooperation for Hazardous Waste Policy (1988), an article in The Public Interest (1988); and guidelines, case studies, and working papers. The project led to a visit by British leaders and experts interested in learning from California’s pioneering work in managing hazardous materials. [The Forum is described as an example of a major Institute convening project in an online paper.]
California Farmlands Project (1982-1984): With encouragement and funding from the state Legislature, the Institute convened senior representatives of California’s agricultural and environmental communities to explore ways to protect prime agricultural land from urban sprawl. The project included a visit by experts from France, where farmland protection is highly advanced. It centered on a two-day conference in Visalia, “How Can Land Be Saved for Agriculture?” Products included conference proceedings, case studies, and working papers.
OTHER PAST ACTIVITIES
Examples of numerous other past activities are:
-- Conservation of Mediterranean-type ecosystems. These ecosystems, characterized by mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers, are found in five regions of the world: parts of Australia, Chile, and South Africa, much of California and Baja California, and the Mediterranean Basin. They are extraordinarily rich in biodiversity and face greater immediate threats per unit of area than any other species-rich regions on earth. One of these threats is rampant urbanization. On this theme, the Institute organized an international workshop in Malibu, California; secured passage of an IUCN resolution; and contributed to several international meetings.
-- Exploring better ways of conducting research for California state government needs (a project conducted in cooperation with the National Research Council and the California State Senate).
-- A retreat on “The Future of California” that brought together key scholars and practitioners (held jointly with the Institute of Governmental Studies of the University of California, Berkeley).
-- "Oil and Gas from Alaska: Choices for California,” a conference in Los Angeles, keynoted by former California Governor Edmund G. “Pat” Brown, which examined national security, environmental, marine safety, economic, and consumer protection consequences of proposals to transport Alaskan oil and natural gas to California.
-- Three research projects for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the White House Council on Environmental Quality on the history and implementation of the California Environmental Quality Act and similar laws in other states.
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A highlight: At "The Urban Imperative" workshop at the 2003 World Parks Congress in Durban, South Africa. Standing, left to right: Xola Mkefe, Keith Cooper, Ted Trzyna, Zwai Peter, John Davidson; sitting: George Davis.