Lester Brown Coins New Institute to Build Eco-Economy

WASHINGTON, DC, May 11, 2001 (ENS) - The man who founded the influential WorldWatch Institute 26 years ago, Lester Brown, today announced the formation of a new organization, the Earth Policy Institute.

Brown says a new organization is needed because "we are losing the war to save the planet."


Lester Brown (Photo courtesy Earth Policy Institute)
Worldwatch, based in Washington, DC, is a nonprofit public policy research organization. Founded on the idea that information is a powerful tool of social change, WorldWatch publishes an annual environmental State of the World report, a monthly magazine, does research, publishes in some 30 languages, and maintains a working relationship with the world's major news organizations.

Many battles have been won, Brown says, but "the gap between what we need to do to arrest the environmental deterioration of Earth and what we are doing continues to widen. Somehow we have to turn the tide."

To effectively win the war to save the planet, Brown intends to create the building blocks of an environmentally sustainable economy, what he calls "an eco-economy." By definition, an eco-economy is "designed to mesh with Earth's ecosystem instead of disrupting and destroying it," he says.

The new institute will produce a book, "Eco-Economy: Building an Economy for the Earth," containing detailed descriptions of the policy tools that can be used employed, such as a restructuring of the tax system that will simultaneously reduce income taxes and raise taxes on environmentally destructive activities.

Brown wants to develop "a shared vision of the eco-economy," a "roadmap of how to get from here to there," and a continual assessment of progress in this effort.

To achieve these goals, Brown believes the Earth Policy Institute is crucial. He intends it to be a new kind of research organization that will produce short issue briefs for media, policymakers and Internet distribution.

They will supplement, not substitute for in-depth research on environmental issues that is being done by the Worldwatch Institute, World Resources Institute, and many other more specialized, scientific research centers working on environmental issues.

Monthly Eco-Economy Updates will deal with new initiatives that are affecting progress toward an eco-economy. Based on a worldwide monitoring system, they will include initiatives that contribute to building an eco-economy - a major commitment by a government to develop its wind energy resources or to stabilize population - and actions that detract from the effort, such as a governmental decision to allow clearcutting of a forest.

Brown has thrown out a challenge to the communications media to assume responsibility for helping the world make the transition to an eco-economy. "It will take an enormous amount of information dissemination to guide the transition to an eco-economy," said Brown. "Editors may not relish this assignment, but the reality is that there is no other institution that has the capacity to disseminate quickly the information needed to guide the transition to a sustainable economy in the time that is available."

Brown will continue as chairman of the board of Worldwatch Institute and will become a senior fellow at Worldwatch.

The Earth Policy Institute is online at: http://www.earth-policy.org/