World experts gather in New York to discuss the feasibility of sustainable development

State of the Planet 06, March 28 to 29, 2006 at Columbia University

More than 25 leading experts from across diverse private and public sectors will converge at the fourth biennial State of the Planet conference, hosted by The Earth Institute at Columbia University, in New York on March 28 and 29. Bringing years of experience in fields related to development, these hand-selected experts will examine some of the most urgent challenges faced by the world today, ultimately attempting to answer "Is Sustainable Development Feasible?"--the theme of this year's conference.

State of the Planet 06 speakers are among the world's most recognized actors and thinkers in their fields, including scientific research, media, business and international development. In this open forum, each of these experts will present new research, question prevailing ideas and/or propose bold actions that may help more than 6 billion people achieve sustainability. Among the 2006 speakers are:

  • Nicholas D. Kristof, Columnist, The New York Times
  • Carol Bellamy, President and Chief Executive Officer, World Learning; Former Executive Director, UNICEF
  • John Coomber, Retired Chief Executive Officer, Swiss Re Group
  • Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director, The Earth Institute at Columbia University
  • Rajendra K. Pachauri, Director-General, The Energy and Resources Institute; Chairman, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

The two-day conference will be divided into four panel discussions on the following themes:

  • Research and Ingenuity
    How can research protect and provide resources for energy, water and biodiversity, particularly as they are affected by or contribute to climate change?
  • Tapping into Market Forces and the Economy
    What are the strengths and limits of free market mechanisms versus government regulation in achieving sustainable development?
  • Developing Effective Institutional Structures
    What are the strengths and weaknesses of global governance in tackling issues of sustainable development?
  • Challenging Behavioral Patterns and Perspectives
    Will societies, with all of their complex social, cultural and religious components, need to modify their behaviors to achieve sustainable development?

Through a range of events and programs, the Earth Institute remains committed to building awareness about complex sustainable development issues, including climate change, poverty, neglected diseases, natural disasters, and others. In 2000, the first State of the Planet conference brought together a select group of scholars, scientists, humanitarians, and business and government leaders to provide a special opportunity for the public to engage in a lively debate on global development. Continuing its decade-long tradition of bridging perspectives and ideas, the Earth Institute presents State of the Planet 06, a singular event that promises to shed light on the challenges as well as the solutions to some of the world's most urgent problems.

For a complete list of speakers and a schedule of the two-day conference, please visit

Members of the press who would like to attend State of the Planet 06, or have questions about the event, please contact Clare Oh, Public Information Officer at The Earth Institute, at (212) 854-5479 or [email protected]

State of the Planet 06:
Tuesday, March 28, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Wednesday, March 29, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Doors open at 8:00 a.m. for continental breakfast on both days. Boxed lunches will be provided to all audience members. Registration required.

Columbia University, Alfred Lerner Hall, Roone Arledge Auditorium
2920 Broadway (between 114th & 115th Streets), New York, NY
For directions, please visit:


The Earth Institute at Columbia University is among the world's leading academic centers for the integrated study of Earth, its environment, and society. The Earth Institute builds upon excellence in the core disciplines--earth sciences, biological sciences, engineering sciences, social sciences and health sciences--and stresses cross-disciplinary approaches to complex problems. Through its research training and global partnerships, it mobilizes science and technology to advance sustainable development, while placing special emphasis on the needs of the world's poor. For more information, visit

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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