State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Students Explore Sustainability’s Role in Children’s Social Justice

Nearly fourteen years ago, in September of 2000, world leaders gathered at the United Nations Headquarters in New York for the Millennium Summit. Born from this summit was a list of goals for improvement— categorized as the Millennium Development Goals— which included issues related to Poverty, Education, Gender Equality, Child Mortality, Maternal Health, Disease, Environment and Development. Since the recognition of these Millennium Development Goals, the United Nations has taken extraordinary action in making advances with regard to each of these respective sectors. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works as part of this initiative in more than 190 countries and territories, to save and improve children’s lives through healthcare, water and sanitation, nutrition, education and emergency relief.

The Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development  was pleased to welcome Jessica O’Herron, Global Citizenship Fellow, and Hillary Larman, National Office Fellow of UNICEF to our Speaker Series, to learn more about the Millennium Development Goal #7: Environment. The definition of this goal is to “ensure environmental sustainability.” UNICEF is achieving this goal by responding to the safe water drinking crisis, seeing as “a child dies every 15 seconds from a disease attributable to unsafe drinking water, deplorable sanitation and poor hygiene.”

Other topics in the Speaker Series this semester included environmental health and sustainable architecture. A full list of speakers for Fall 2014 will be posted in the events section of our website over the summer. All undergraduate and graduate students at Columbia and affiliated schools are invited to attend.

Columbia’s Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development is an interdisciplinary program that addresses sustainable development through an understanding of the interaction between natural and social systems. It is offered through the Earth Institute in partnership with Columbia College and the School of General Studies. Participating departments and schools of the Sustainable Development major and special concentration include: the Department of Earth and Environmental Biology; the Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering; the School of International and Public Affairs and the Mailman School of Public Health.

To learn more about the major and special concentration in Sustainable Development, please visit our website or contact Jessica Sotomayor, Program Manager, at

Deborah Sachare is an intern for the Office of Academic and Research Programs at the Earth Institute. She is a student at Barnard College and will graduate in 2014 with a degree in Environmental Policy.

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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