Earth Clinic Seed Funding Competition Year 2008 - 2009

In order to help achieve the goals of the Earth Clinic, a competition for project seed money was held. The Earth Clinic Steering Committee received 11 proposals. The proposals were reviewed by the Earth Clinic Steering Committee and 4 proposals were recommended for funding totaling $115,889. The following provides information on the funded proposals.

Contact: Patricia Culligan, Professor of Engineering, Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
Title of Project: NeighborhoodGreen Infrastructure: Planning for Climate Change Adaptation in Harlem’s 125th Street Corridor
Scope of Project: In the face of climate change, development pressure, aging built infrastructure, and the attendant threats to human and ecosystem health, citizens and municipalities urgently need practical alternatives that will allow them to reduce their vulnerability to climate change impacts. One emerging alternative that has the potential to address the impacts of increased precipitation and greater frequency of severe heat waves, are community scale green infrastructure techniques. The project team seeks to understand (i) how effectively a variety of green infrastructure techniques (such as green roofs; permeable pavements; street trees; infiltration galleries; rainwater harvesting, etc.) can address these environmental impacts and (ii) the cost and opportunities for integrating such green infrastructure into dense urban landscapes. The primary objective of this project is to initiate the development of a scientifically-based strategic plan to assist communities and municipalities in their adaptation to the climate change effects of extreme summer heat and increased precipitation events. The project will culminate in a strategic planning document that can assist the NYC Department of City Planning, the 125th Street Business Improvement District, and community action groups such as West Harlem Environmental Action, Inc (WEACT) in designing community based, cost-effective approaches for combating climate change via sustainable land use strategies. This project will also serve as the basis for the collaborative Urban Ecology Studio run by Patricia Culligan and Richard Plunz in Fall 2008/09.

Contact: Jessica Fanzo, Nutrition Coordinator, The Earth Institute; Gretchen Loeffler Peltier, Earth Institute Postdoctoral Fellow; and, Roseline Remans, Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, The Earth Institute
Title of Project: Development and Piloting of a Low-Cost Water and Nutrition Household Tool to Improve Child’s Health
Scope of Project: Great strides in reducing hunger through increases in agricultural productivity have been made worldwide, however, still 854 million of people remain chronically underfed, i.e. do not have access to continuously meet dietary requirements. Without adequate healthcare and medicines, access to clean, potable drinking water, and nutritious foods, children fail to thrive, regardless of diet diversity. It is a major challenge to combine sufficient access to macro- and micronutrients with efficient uptake of these nutrients to improve nutrition status. By improving the nutritional status of children under five, morbidity and mortality should decrease; however this is not always the case. In the rural village of Sauri, located in the Yala Division, Siaya District, Nyanza Province of western Kenya, nutrition in the community has greatly improved, crops are in surplus, but community health is still poor. Protected water springs are accessible and plentiful, but bacterial loading in many of these sources is unknown. During the last 5 months of 66 deaths, 13 children (20%) under the age of five years have died as a result of diarrheal disease. During the month of March alone, 27% of the under five deaths were caused by diarrhea. We expect that susceptibility to disease should decrease with improved nutritional status, but it appears that this is not the case. This pilot study proposes to understand why this rural village of Sauri, with sufficient crop diversity and access to water, continues to have high morbidity and mortality of young children and demonstrate an easy-to-use nutrition education and clean water tool kit which can be implemented at the community level.

Contact: Karl P. Sauvant, Executive Director, Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment and Andrea K. Bjorklund, Professor, School of Law, University of California-Davis
Title of Project: Developing a Model Investment Law and Policy Syllabus for Institutions of Higher Learning in the Developing World
Scope of Project: While trade in goods and services is governed largely by the multilateral agreements that operate under the auspices of the World Trade Organization, the regulation of investment law is primarily a matter of bilateral agreements between individual countries, with some forays into plurilateral agreements. More than ever, both private legal practitioners and government lawyers need to be familiar with investment law and policy in order to negotiate these agreements and to resolve disputes arising under them. It is widely accepted that as a general rule, attorneys in capital-exporting countries are much better situated, both in terms of education and experience, to address these issues than are attorneys in capital importing States. Nonetheless, the number of courses in which investment law, policy, or dispute settlement are taught is small, even in the United States. One of the biggest issues in the field, then, is capacity-building – ensuring that key players have an adequate basis on which to act in this area. To help redress this lack of capacity, this project will construct a model syllabus for international investment law and policy and make it available to institutions of higher learning throughout the world, especially in emerging markets.

Contact: Madeleine Thomson, Chair, Africa Program Committee and Director for Impacts Research, International Research Institute for Climate and Society, The Earth Institute
Title of Project: Developing a ‘Climate Information for Public Health’ Training Initiative for Africa
Scope of Project: The project builds on a Cross-Cutting Initiative project completed in 2007-8 entitled Eco-meteorology – a new discipline in the service of global public health. The CCI project developed a two-week training course known as the Summer Institute that offers public health decision-makers and their partners the opportunity to learn practical methods for integrating climate knowledge and information into health decision-making processes through expert lectures, special seminars, focused discussions and practical exercises. The current format of the Summer Institute is internet dependant and the modules are all in English. Partners in Africa are keen to see this training activity undertaken locally. The objective is to use this proposal as a proof of concept pilot project and to then obtain substantive funding for up-scaling this activity from a relevant foundation or federal agency. The final outcome is to have health specialists in Africa able to use climate information in a public health decision-making context and to have health institutions able to use the training module for wide-scale training of health-climate communities.