News from the Columbia Climate School

Helping Haiti Build Back Stronger and More Sustainably

The Haiti Program of the Earth Institute is led by Tatiana Wah, a professor at the New School in New York (on leave), where she is a renowned scholar and practitioner of Haitian economic and social development. Since last year, Wah has led the Earth Institute’s efforts from a base in Port-au-Prince, where she works daily with the President, Prime Minister and other government leaders.  Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute, and Professor Wah advise the Government of Haiti on a range of strategic issues and have prepared several key documents for the government during the past year, both before and after the earthquake. Professor Sachs is also advising the United Nations Secretary-General and United Nations agencies on Haiti-related issues, including in the post-earthquake crisis.

The Earth Institute established a Haiti Reconstruction Task Force in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake to share information and coordinate the Haiti-based activities of different Earth Institute and Columbia initiatives. Task Force members focus on both short- and long-term scientific and programmatic guidance to government and other institutions in a variety of fields. The Seismic Team, led by geophysicist Art Lerner-Lam, works alongside the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the Haitian government to produce immediate scientific guidance on seismic risks; in the medium-term, the group will produce sophisticated multi-hazard risks assessments.

The Haiti Regeneration Initiative, which involves the Earth Institute’s Center for International Earth Science Information Network’s (CIESIN) Marc Levy, the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED) and the UN Environment Program, works with the Haitian government to restore ecosystems and livelihoods based on sustainable natural resource management tools. In public health, the Mailman School of Public Health’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness and external collaborators such as Partners in Health and NYU Medical Center provide critical strategic guidance to government and identify potential problems, gaps and opportunities for synergy.

Thanks to the strong commitment of our key partner, the Green Family Foundation, which has a long history of working in Haiti, the Earth Institute’s crucial work in the country will continue to make an impact and will effect great change in the lives of the people of Haiti.

If you have an interest in supporting the Earth Institute’s efforts toward long-term development and reconstruction in Haiti, please contact Gregory Fienhold at gfienhold@ei.columbia.edu or (212) 854-3035.  You can also make an online donation.

Science for the Planet: In these short video explainers, discover how scientists and scholars across the Columbia Climate School are working to understand the effects of climate change and help solve the crisis.
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Dan Fischer
Dan Fischer
13 years ago

My background is city management/urban planning before coming to Mercer University (I’m in the administration, but teach Urban Ecology every Fall).

It has always bothered me that developing countries try to emulate “the American way” with an auto-based transportation system. Making the infrastructure investments for such an inefficient system that is inappropriate/unaffordable for large portions of a population makes little sense, especially when higher energy costs and potential shortages are on the horizon.

Haiti has the opportunity for rebuilding with a transit-based system that will 1) be cheaper per rider/capita, 2) serve dramatically more people, 3) allow for dispersal of residence while supporting an integrated national economy, 4) be easier to repair after future earthquakes, 5) insulate the country from future energy shortages, 6) reduce the percentage of national income that is exported for the purchase of foreign fuel…. I could go on. In short, it’s a win-win scenario, with few if any downsides.

Allan Shiff
Allan Shiff
13 years ago

March 18 – 10

I attended the COP15 in Copenhagen this past December and met film maker John Liu.
He recorded the remarkable rehabilitation of devastated land over a 15 year period in China, Rwanda and Ethiopia.

The positive effects on the environment and the local population was and continues to be of benefit to all. I would encourage you to review his important film with respect to the critical needs of Haiti.

HOPE IN A CHANGING CLIMATE
http://www.hopeinachangingclimate.org

Please contact me if you would like any additional information.
Allan.

fundinginitiatives
fundinginitiatives
Reply to  Allan Shiff
13 years ago

Dear Allan. The video that you reference is indeed interesting. Along the same themes explored in the video, see these posts to read first-hand the ideas and work of our experts and scientists on how to move forward in Haiti.
https://news.climate.columbia.edu/blog/2010/01/26/rebuilding-haiti-the-10-year-plan/
https://news.climate.columbia.edu/blog/2010/03/16/initiatives-to-help-haiti-recover/

Jim Dorman
Jim Dorman
13 years ago

I wish this had contained some information about conditions on the ground in Haiti, and why and how its economy is so vulnerable.

Jim Dorman

fundinginitiatives
fundinginitiatives
Reply to  Jim Dorman
13 years ago

Hi, Jim. Thanks for your comment. This story was only intended to highlight the Green Family Foundation and their support of Tatiana Wah and the other policy work that we are doing in Haiti. We have so many researchers and scientists on the ground, working in a number of fields in the country. Please see our full blog feature on that work here: https://news.climate.columbia.edu/blog/tag/haiti-earthquake/. In particular, I think you might find these articles interesting and helpful:

https://news.climate.columbia.edu/blog/2010/03/02/why-haiti-suffered-more-than-chile/

https://news.climate.columbia.edu/blog/2010/01/22/haiti-physics-of-quakes-past-and-future/

https://news.climate.columbia.edu/blog/2010/01/20/port-au-prince-and-new-orleans/

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