Photo courtesy of Cornell University

Fishermen in Myanmar, where the Hydro Power Project was based in 2015.

August 24, 2017

Cornell Announces Five New Projects With the Environmental Defense Fund

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Two leading environmental change and advocacy organizations — Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future and the Environmental Defense Fund — have announced five new research projects integrating Cornell’s scientific research with environmental and public health policy.

The Atkinson Center, founded in 2007 by David and Pat Atkinson ’60, funds research in “energy, environment, and economic development,” according to a statement on the Atkinson Center’s website.

The partnership, since its founding three years ago, has funded 13 projects through a $1.7 million grant from the Atkinsons, according to the University.

A study on emissions from oil and gas wells implemented a mobile-monitoring approach to enhance the Environmental Protection Agency’s pollutant sensors across the nation.

The study aims to reduce costs and enhance health- and emissions-related information reported to policymakers and communities.

Another study on electrical power started an initiative to help city agencies, community partners and utilities in California collaborate on providing green energy to low-income residents.

The planned reforms, called the “Power Huron Project,” is projected to save $700 million and prevent 8 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

Another team of researchers have worked to support adaptive fishery management in the Philippines, where sardine fishing is an important source of food.

Working with Filipino fishery managers, the team has helped protect the ecosystem in the western Pacific while improving fishing yields and profits using evidence-based methods.

Another similar project was focused on sustainable seafood production and marine biodiversity. Researchers explored best practices for sustainable financing in coastal communities.

The project borrowed business models from other sustainable business sectors to help deliver increased financial returns to fisheries by stimulating investment through outreach.

In their final new project, the center will be making agricultural resources more accessible to communities that need them most.

David Lodge, the Francis J. DiSalvo Director of the Atkinson Center, said that the new projects would help overcome the greatest barriers to obtaining sustainability.

“The projects funded this year address some of the biggest challenges facing our planet today — including how to feed people with sustainable fisheries and farms, and how to ensure access to clean power and healthy air,” he said in The Cornell Chronicle. “Bringing a collaborative approach to pressing questions like these will allow Cornell and EDF to achieve new insights and have a greater impact than either organization could achieve alone.”

In previous years, the Atkinson Center has sponsored such projects as a Google Streetview car used in cities to track methane emissions. The car is mounted with sensors that pinpoint and detect leaks with high methane emissions.

Both organizations have expressed enthusiasm and optimism on the future of the partnership, which also includes an internship program that provides opportunities for Cornell undergraduates to gain experience in EDF offices.