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Sustainability News

Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and Stockholm Water Prize co-recipient to be keynote speakers at Phosphorus Forum 2019

November 21, 2018

Washington, D.C. capitol building with flowers in foregroundThe Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance has announced that Kathleen Merrigan and Bruce Rittmann will be the keynote speakers at Phosphorus Forum 2019, scheduled for April 5, 2019, in Washington, D.C.

Kathleen Merrigan, who holds a PhD in environmental planning and policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has decades of experience in agriculture, sustainability and food systems. As the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture from 2009 to 2013, Merrigan managed the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative to support local and regional food systems. She became the first female chair of the Ministerial Conference of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization in 2009; she was named one of Time magazine’s “100 most influential people in the world” in 2010; and she was the Executive Director of Sustainability at George Washington University, where she led the GW Sustainability Collaborative and the GW Food Institute. In 2018 Merrigan became the first Executive Director of the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems at Arizona State University.

Bruce Rittmann, who holds a PhD in environmental engineering from Stanford University, was named a 2018 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate for revolutionizing water and wastewater treatment through the development of environmental biotechnology-based processes. His work has led to a new generation of water treatment processes that can effectively extract nutrients from wastewater. In his research, Rittmann has studied how microorganisms can transform organic pollutants to something of value to humans and the environment. He has authored or co-authored more than 650 peer-reviewed scientific papers and has chaired the Program Committee of the Leading Edge Technology Conference of the International Water Association. Rittmann is Regents' Professor of Environmental Engineering and director of the Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology at ASU's Biodesign Institute.

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Maricopa County and ASU combat urban heat with Healthy Urban Environments (HUE) initiative

View Source | November 14, 2018

city with mountains at sunsetThe Maricopa County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) approved a grant to the ASU Foundation for a New American University for research to help reduce urban heat and improve air quality. The $2.99 million grant is for three years and will help get the Healthy Urban Environments (HUE) Initiative at Arizona State University off the ground.

“As regional leaders, our job is to improve quality of life and that is what this partnership will do,” said Steve Chucri, District 2, Chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. “The fact is, our weather is reaching new extremes, making ozone a bigger problem. This summer, we had more than 40 straight days of ozone alerts. This can’t be the new normal. As Chairman, I committed us to the hard work involved in building a smart, sustainable future. I am hopeful that other governments and community partners will follow our lead in supporting this important work.”

The HUE initiative takes a solutions-based approach to heat mitigation and air quality improvement, capitalizing on ASU’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, its School of Sustainability and its partners around the world, to address the unique challenges facing a county that is comparable in size and scale to some countries.

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Former USDA deputy secretary named executive director of Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems

View Source | August 20, 2018

Kathleen MerriganKathleen Merrigan, former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and a leader in sustainable food systems, is the first executive director of the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems at Arizona State University. Merrigan also holds the position of the Kelly and Brian Swette Professor of Practice in Sustainable Food Systems with appointments in the School of Sustainability, College of Health Solutions and School of Public Affairs.

The Swette Center was announced in late 2017 after entrepreneurs Kelly and Brian Swette made a major gift to ASU to establish the center and an endowed scholarship. The foremost goal of the Swette Center is to educate the next generation of consumers and decision makers through the first Sustainable Food Systems degree program.

“We are fortunate to have Kathleen lead the center, and there isn't a better place to launch it than ASU,” said Kelly Swette. “There can no longer be an indifference to how and what we eat.”

Fmr. UN Ambassador joins ASU

April 2, 2018

Amanda EllisASU is pleased to announce the appointment of Amanda Ellis as executive director, Hawaii & Asia-Pacific; director of strategic partnerships; and Senior Special Advisor for International Diplomacy, Sustainable Development and Inclusion for the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. In this role, Ellis will create and cultivate international strategic partnerships and program initiatives that will include international sustainability, diplomacy and development, global gender issues, diversity and inclusion.

With her network of high level contacts from her time as Ambassador to the United Nations and at the World Bank Group, as well as demonstrated abilities to engage in advocacy, outreach, partnership and coalition building at the highest levels, Ellis will also support the full suite of sustainability experts across the Wrigley Institute to advance their research impact globally and to create relevant partnerships.

Until March 2016, Ellis served as New Zealand’s Head of Mission and Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva. Ellis has also served as Deputy Secretary International Development and was the first woman to head the New Zealand Aid Programme.

Endangered vaquitas: Film screening and discussion

March 21, 2018

Film poster illustration of three vaquitas swimming in coral reef with title of the film "Souls of the Vermilion Sea"Arizona State University’s Center for Biodiversity Outcomes is pleased to collaborate with local partners Plea for the Sea and Lightkeepers Foundation to offer a special screening of the short documentary Souls of the Vermilion Sea.

The free public event will occur on Sunday, March 25 from 3-5 p.m. at the university’s Memorial Union in Room 230 (Pima). The event will also be live streamed. More details are available at the following link:  

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ASU-Hawai’i Green Growth collaboration receives top awards at ‘Make the Ala Wai Awesome’ design competition

June 26, 2017

Green Growth CollaborationAt a ceremony in Honolulu on June 18, 2017, an interdisciplinary team of Arizona State University graduate students working with Hawai’i Green Growth (HGG) received the top award in the Make the Ala Wai Awesome competition for their submission “Water is Life.”

Submissions were judged by a prestigious panel that included representatives of the American Society of Landscape Architects Hawai’i chapter (Hawai’i ASLA). The Hawai’i ASLA members were so impressed with the ASU team’s submission that they granted it an additional HI-ASLA Award of Excellence.

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TSC Announces Sheila Bonini Joining WWF; Euan Murray Named CEO Effective December 1st

October 31, 2016

Euan standing in front of a well-shaded riverTempe, AZ – The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) announced today that Sheila Bonini will be stepping down as CEO to take a position at WWF and Euan Murray will be the new CEO effective December 1st.

In her two years as CEO of TSC, Bonini has led a transformation of the organization to position it to leverage the tremendous scientific-based work through retailer implementation. Under her leadership TSC now has more than 1,700 suppliers using its tools, covering over $135 billion in retail trade. More suppliers are reporting daily, and 2016 should be TSC’s biggest year yet as more retailers join TSC and Walmart continues to expand. In addition to continued implementation at scale by Walmart and Sam’s Club, TSC has deepened its partnership with Kroger and is implementing with other major retailers in North America and Europe. Bonini has helped raise the level of the mission for TSC to drive impact across consumer product supply chains and produced TSC’s first ever Impact Report.

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Developing renewable energy plan and tools in collaboration with military and government stakeholders

June 30, 2016

LBrugTempe, AZ (June 30, 2016) – The U.S. Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment awarded $941,469 to Arizona State University and the City of Surprise to fund the creation of the Arizona Military Energy Land Use Plan (AME-UP). In partnership with the City of Surprise, ASU is working hand-in-hand with multiple stakeholders and military installations to create interactive community planning and web tools for stakeholder development of renewable energy projects.

The AME-UP project will last the duration of 20 months, ending December 2017, and will be broken up into four phases: data collection, outreach, tool development and testing/verifying. The two outcomes of the project will be a best practices plan for assessment of existing and planned energy projects and an online interactive web-mapping tool that can be used by city and community planners, military personnel, renewable energy developers and other stakeholders.

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Partnership to increase educational success of Native Hawaiians

View Source | April 26, 2016

Two men in suits shaking handsHonolulu – Leaders from Kamehameha Schools (KS) and Arizona State University (ASU) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on April 11 to cooperate and advance education and sustainability.

“This MOU signifies a call to action for both of our organizations. Partnerships such as this also demonstrate our commitment to foster local and global servant leadership and cultural engagement among Native Hawaiians and all learners in Hawaiʻi,” said KS Chief Executive Officer Jack Wong. “We acknowledge that we cannot do this alone, but instead we need to work together with those who share the same goals and whose priorities align with ours, with Hawai‘i’s.”

The partnership with ASU is another step toward KS’ strategic goal of contributing to our communities’ collective efforts to kōkua educational systems throughout Hawai‘i.

“Arizona State University and Kamehameha Schools share a mission to improve the communities around us through education,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “This partnership creates pathways for our students to sustain and enrich society -- at a local level and far beyond.”

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Report outlines new utility regulatory pathways

January 7, 2016

powering-tomorrow-energy-reportTempe, Ariz., Jan. 7 – As more electricity providers enter the energy market, the way consumers obtain electricity is becoming more and more decentralized. Today, the leaders of the Powering Tomorrow Initiative released their Phase Two report, which defines industry structures and regulatory packages that accommodate a growing number of market participants, while securing the vitality of existing utilities and a fair playing field for new market entrants.

Powering Tomorrow has been co-directed by Kris Mayes, a professor of practice at the ASU School of Sustainability and the School for the Future of Innovation in Society, Darrell Hanson, a former Iowa public utility commissioner and two other former utility commissioners. ASU has been a participant in Powering Tomorrow, and will continue to assist in future phases of the effort.

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ASU scientists gather in D.C. to tackle phosphorus sustainability

View Source | May 18, 2015

sustainable-phosphorous-conferenceTempe, Ariz. — Researchers from Arizona State University, along with more than 40 other scientists, engineers, technical experts and policy makers from around the world, are convening in Washington, D.C. May 18-21 to study ways to create a sustainable phosphorus (P) fertilizer system.

The use of phosphorus, a key component of fertilizers, is increasing around the world. As a result, the runoff of phosphorus from farms and cities is creating noxious algal blooms, which often lead to "dead zones" in rivers, lakes and coastal oceans.

Furthermore, the price of phosphate rock used for fertilizer production is increasing and uncertainty surrounds the long-term reliability of these rock supplies, as they are distributed from just a few countries. Many experts believe humanity's phosphorus use has already exceeded "safe boundaries" and are calling for solutions both to protect water quality and assure long-term reliable supplies of P for fertilizer.

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SD Mines, Arizona State University Pave Way for Cooperative Research

April 23, 2015

sustainability-asu-south-dakota-miningRAPID CITY, S.D. and TEMPE, Ariz. (April 23, 2015) – The South Dakota School of Mines & Technology and Arizona State University (ASU) have entered into an agreement to promote cooperation on research and other joint projects.

A memorandum of agreement signed by the universities will encourage and promote cooperation in research, long distance learning, student success and other services particularly, though not exclusively, relating to sustainability, energy and natural resources.

“We have complementary strengths and a similar set of values,” said Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University. “It makes sense for us to collaborate more closely.”

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Online education is key driver in university sustainability strategies

View Source | April 6, 2015

net_positive_ict_and_online_edA new report from Arizona State University indicates that the development of online education programs can be a significant component of an institution’s sustainability strategy based on greater socio-economic impact for a smaller environmental footprint per degree.

Using ASU Online as a case study, the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives’ Global Sustainability Solutions Services determined that the increased access to degrees through online education creates socio-economic benefits of as much as $545,000 or more per undergraduate degree over the lifetime of the graduate while also reducing the carbon footprint by at least 30 metric tons of carbon dioxide.

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ASU launches academy to educate young students about sustainability

View Source | February 26, 2015

sustainability-education-academyToday’s students will become tomorrow’s leaders, and educating them about sustainability is increasingly important in light of the complex social, economic and environmental issues the world faces.

Arizona State University’s new National Sustainability Teachers’ Academy aims to bring teams of elementary, middle and high school teachers from across the nation together to establish an educational task force for sustainability.

As a program of ASU’s Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives, the teachers’ academy will focus on solutions-based curriculum with an emphasis on urban systems. ASU sustainability scientists and scholars will help coach and lead hands-on sessions on solutions surrounding food, water, energy and climate.

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Walmart Expands Online Sustainable Shopping Offering

View Source | February 24, 2015

Walmart-Sustainability-ConsortiumSAN BRUNO, Calif., Feb. 24, 2015 – Walmart announced today the debut of its Sustainability Leaders shop, an online shopping portal on that helps customers identify and purchase products from suppliers that are leading in sustainability.

The launch of the Sustainability Leaders shop builds on the company’s ambition to provide customers more information about the products they purchase at Walmart. The new portal helps to advance Walmart’s goal to offer customers a way to choose products they can afford, and that are produced in an environmentally and socially responsible way.

The Sustainability Leaders shop is the customer-facing iteration of Walmart’s Sustainability Index, launched in 2009 in collaboration with The Sustainability Consortium (TSC), an independent, third-party organization of academic-based scientists and more than 100 member organizations that creates tools and strategies to drive more sustainable consumer products. Over the last several years, Walmart and TSC have worked with suppliers, several leading non-profit organizations and TSC to build the Sustainability Index.

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Second annual shadow conference brings sustainability leaders to ASU

February 17, 2015

greenbiz-forum-sustainability-ASUTEMPE, Ariz - The power of global business leaders discussing the latest trends, challenges and opportunities in sustainable business is returning to Arizona State University for GreenBiz U, a shadow conference of the 2015 GreenBiz Forum taking place in Paradise Valley, AZ, Feb. 17-19.

A part of the second annual Sustainability Solutions Festival, a program of the ASU Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives, GreenBiz U will bring GreenBiz Forum keynote speakers to the ASU Tempe campus for three days of insights and discussions with sustainability business, education and thought leaders such as Carter Roberts (President and CEO, World Wildlife Fund), Aaron Hurst (Author of “The Purpose Economy”), Jackie Prince Roberts (Chief Sustainability Officer for the Carlyle Group), and Sheila Bonini (CEO of The Sustainability Consortium).

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Feeding the world sustainably: Can science sustain us?

February 13, 2015

turner-AAAS-sustainabilityHow will we feed a world population that is predicted to grow to 9.6 billion people by 2050, using only the resources that are available to us today?

The answer may be what scientists call sustainable intensification. Arizona State University geographer B. L. Turner II was a discussant at a panel symposium on that topic at the 2015 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), held in San Jose, Calif.

Sustainable intensification refers to increasing food production without reducing environmental quality, and takes into account a broad range of factors including a changing climate, changing patterns of consumption, and the need to sustain both natural resources and human livelihoods.

Turner, a distinguished sustainability scientist in ASU's Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, is an expert in human-environment relationships, both modern-day and historical. Part of his extensive body of work includes examining how climate change affects a civilization's ability to feed its people, and conversely, how changing patterns of farmland cultivation affect climate through things like deforestation and desertification.

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White House to honor veterans as "Champions of Change" for advancing clean energy and climate security

November 4, 2013

Champions of Change developing clean energyWASHINGTON, DC — November 4, 2013 — On Tuesday, November 5th, just days before Veterans Day, the White House will honor 12 local heroes as "Champions of Change." The event will celebrate American veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who are doing extraordinary work to advance clean energy and increase climate resilience and preparedness in their communities.

In a Presidential Proclamation on National Energy Action Month, President Obama challenged the Nation to build a clean energy economy and increase energy security. Noting that we now import less oil than at any point in the past 20 years, the President stressed the need to keep moving forward to protect these gains and fuel growth for decades to come. Additionally, the President’s Climate Action Plan maps out a way to drive advancements in the energy sector, add thousands of jobs to strengthen the American economy, and lead efforts to address climate change globally. The President has stated that developing clean energy technology and preparing for the effects of climate change are crucial to ensuring America’s continued growth and the health of future generations.

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School of Sustainability teaches impact of climate change to International Finance Corporation members

October 22, 2013

International Finance Corporation (IFC) group photoTEMPE, Ariz. — October 22, 2013 — Tasked with determining how best to invest global money in developing countries, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) consulted Arizona State University (ASU) for expert sustainability advice, October 15-16 at ASU.

"Our scientists and faculty bring transdisciplinary expertise, applied research and solutions to global challenges, turning knowledge into action," said ASU President Michael Crow. "We are honored to contribute that level of experience and applied science to support the exceptional work of World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and to help the IFC."

More than 40 IFC Climate Business Group members from around the world gathered in Tempe for the two-day "short course" about implications of climate change, presented by various experts from ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability and School of Sustainability.

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Peace conference cultivates sustainable agriculture

October 15, 2013

EmPeace conferenceTEMPE, Ariz. — October 15, 2013 — The annual Empowerment for Peace through Leadership in Agribusiness and Sustainability (EmPeace LABS) conference takes place October 19-26 in Maharashtra, India to connect global farmers in a network that will further sustainable farming methods and establish peaceful communities in developing countries.

The EmPeace LABS conference is coordinated by Arizona State University (ASU), Jain Irrigation Systems, Ltd., and the Gandhi Research Foundation. Mahatma Gandhi’s peaceful perspective is a core inspiration for the conference’s curriculum.

“When people are hungry, they fight for resources,” says Marek Wosinski, conference organizer, senior sustainability scientist in ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability, and senior lecturer in ASU’s Department of Psychology. “If you want to create stability, you need to secure food.”

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