Skoll Foundation


Ceres Responds to Somber New Report on Climate Change

May 6, 2014 by

Today, a new report showed that “the effects of human-induced climate change are being felt in every corner of the United States, with water growing scarcer in dry regions, torrential rains increasing in wet regions, heat waves becoming more common and more severe, wildfires growing worse, and forests dying under assault from heat-loving insects,” according to the New York Times.

Skoll Awardee Ceres released this statement:

“Today’s report is a stark reminder of the urgency for expanding our efforts to curb the carbon pollution that is impacting every stretch of the United States, from extreme precipitation and flooding in the northeast, to drought, water scarcity and wildfires in the southwest. We simply can no longer afford to risk our children’s futures on the false hope that the vast majority of scientists are wrong. read more


Jimmy Carter and Mary Robinson on Climate Change: Who Will Lead?

April 22, 2014 by

The Elders have published a blog by Jimmy Carter and Mary Robinson, Climate change: who will lead?, urging youth to mobilize ahead of the Paris climate conference in December 2015. An excerpt:

“With the latest warnings delivered by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) over the past few weeks, no world leader will ever be able to claim that they were caught off-guard by climate change.

As former heads of state ourselves, we’ve experienced global crises from within the corridors of power. Some may take the world by surprise, but sometimes the warning signals are such that there is no excuse not to act. The IPCC report is such a signal.

The report of Working Group II of the IPCC is the most sobering assessment, to date, of the risks posed to humanity by climate change, describing a range of threats in a clear yet measured tone. Around the world, people’s crops and homes are in danger already. This will only get worse if nothing is done. Economic shocks and worsening poverty, exacerbated by a warming planet, will also increase the risk of armed conflict. It is the world’s poorest who are the most vulnerable. The report does not dictate exact scenarios but tells us, with unprecedented authority, what we must be ready for.

For this reason, it is a compelling call to action for governments. We hope it can trigger decisive action – notably on greenhouse gas emission reduction and financing for climate adaptation – on the road to December 2015, when world leaders will meet at a major conference in Paris to agree a new climate deal.

This week we are coming to Paris, as Elders, to help build momentum towards this deadline. It is difficult to overstate the importance of this process. Climate change ignores national borders. Multilateral negotiations remain the best approach for the world to reach a comprehensive solution. We are calling for a robust, fair, universal, and legally-binding agreement in Paris in 2015.”

Read the rest:


Simon Taylor, Charmian Gooch, and Patrick Alley

March 4, 2014 by

“Driving Transparency to Lift the ‘Resource Curse’ of Conflict and Human Rights Abuse”

Patrick Alley, Charmian Gooch, and Simon Taylor know that many of the world’s poorest people live in the most resource-rich countries in the world. Natural resources can incentivize corruption, destabilize governments, and lead to conflict and the looting of entire states. From 2002 to 2011, illicit money flows from corrupt deals in the developing world totaled nearly $6 trillion. Global Witness investigates and exposes the shadow networks underlying these deals that fuel conflict, corruption, and environmental destruction. They collect evidence and launch hard-hitting campaigns to find global solutions and end the “resource curse” by tackling corruption, protecting the environment, preventing conflict, and defending human rights.

Patrick Alley is co-founder and director of Global Witness. He took part in Global Witness’s first investigations into the Thai-Khmer Rouge timber trade in 1995, and since then has taken part in more than 50 field investigations in South East Asia, Africa and Europe, and in subsequent advocacy activities. Because of Global Witness’s experience in tackling conflict diamonds and former Liberian President Charles Taylor’s arms for timber trade, Patrick focuses on the issue of conflict resources, and on forest and land issues—especially challenging industrial scale-logging and land-grabbing in the tropics.

Charmian Gooch is co-founder and director of Global Witness. She jointly led Global Witness’ first campaign, exposing the trade in timber between the Khmer Rouge and Thai logging companies, and their political and military backers. Charmian also developed and launched Global Witness’ second groundbreaking campaign, combating blood diamonds. Global Witness was nominated for the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for its work on conflict diamonds, and in 2005 Charmian received the Gleitsman International Activist Award.

Simon Taylor is co-founder and director of Global Witness. Simon launched Global Witness’s oil and corruption campaign more than 15 years ago, which began the global call for transparency of payments made by companies to governments for oil and gas extraction. Exposing corruption in these sectors led to Global Witness’s conception of the Publish What You Pay Campaign (PWYP), which Simon co-launched in 2002 with George Soros and other NGOs including Transparency International (UK) and Save the Children Fund UK. The launch of PWYP, which now consists of more than 750 civil society organizations worldwide, led directly to the creation of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), now a global multi-stakeholder initiative aimed at delivering revenue transparency in the extractive sector.




Jockin Arputham

March 4, 2014 by

“Leading Slum Dwellers around the World to Improve Their Cities”

In 2008—for the first time in history—more people were living in urban than in rural areas. Today, more than one billion people live in slums. Founded by a collective of slum dwellers and concerned professionals headed by Jockin Arputham, a community organizer in India, Slum Dwellers International works to have slums recognized as vibrant, resourceful, and dignified communities. SDI organizes slum dwellers to take control of their futures; improve their living conditions; and gain recognition as equal partners with governments and international organizations in the creation of inclusive cities. With programs in nearly 500 cities, including more than 15,000 slum dweller-managed savings groups reaching one million people; 20 agreements with national governments; and nearly 130,000 families who have secured land rights, SDI has been a driving force for change for slum dwellers around the world.

Jockin Arputham is the president of the National Slum Dwellers Federation of India, which he founded in the 1970s. Often referred to as the “grandfather” of the global slum dwellers movement, Jockin was educated by the slums, living on the streets for much of his childhood with no formal education. For more than 30 years, Jockin has worked in slums and shanty towns throughout India and around the world. After working as a carpenter in Mumbai, he became involved in organizing the community where he lived and worked. He helped found Slum Dwellers International to help federations of slum and shack dwellers in more than 20 countries support and learn from each other. Federations share information on how to organize; how to engage in participatory planning; how to ensure women’s involvement in community participation, savings and credit; and how to access water and sanitation.




New online tool tracks deforestation

February 20, 2014 by

The World Resources Institute (WRI) and a group of more than 40 partners, including Imazon, have launched Global Forest Watch (GFW), an online forest monitoring and alert system that helps people everywhere to better manage forests. Global Forest Watch combines satellite technology, open data, and crowdsourcing to provide access to timely information about forests.

An excerpt from the WRI announcement explains,

“Global Forest Watch will have far-reaching implications across industries. Financial institutions can better evaluate if the companies they invest in adequately assess forest-related risks. Buyers of major commodities such as palm oil, soy, timber, and beef can better monitor compliance with laws, sustainability commitments, and standards. And suppliers can credibly demonstrate that their products are ‘deforestation free’ and legally produced.”

Read more and explore the new tool.


New progress on sustainable business in the Amazon

January 14, 2014 by

A project—partially supported by the Skoll Foundation—that seeks to increase sustainable business in the Amazon region is seeing early evidence of success. In a new blog post, the Conservation Strategy Fund shares more about this milestone and the innovative project model. From the post:

“Conservation Strategy Fund has been working with traditional communities in Brazil to support low-impact activities in the Amazon region. These activities have subsequently grown into sustainable businesses, from both an environmental and economic perspective. The guidance CSF has given these locally-owned businesses has helped them to grow substantially and aims to eventually contribute to decreased deforestation in Brazil.”

Read the entire post.


Typhoon Rebuilding Begins: Gawad Kalinga in the Manila Standard

December 26, 2013 by

A new article in the Manila Standard talks to Gawad Kalinga and other organizations helping in the Philippines relief efforts. An excerpt:

“’Yolanda caught us off-guard,’ says Gawad Kalinga founder Tony Meloto. ‘But the scale of the problem is nothing compared to the overflow of generosity and heroism, as friends and partners from around the world rally together in bayanihan to help the Filipinos rise again.’

While relief efforts address the immediate need for food and clothes, non-profit organizations like Gawad Kalinga in partnership with TIP have drawn plans to tackle the longer-term need for shelter.

The rebuilding and relief operations are part of Operation Walang Iwanan, GK’s aid effort for Yolanda survivors. Through the program, GK and its partners aim to build an initial 5,000 houses, as well as repair around 1,000 damaged houses.'”

Read the rest:


Tony Meloto and Luis Oquiñena

November 28, 2011 by

“I value the freedom to serve more than the power to rule.”—Tony

“When we started, we dreamt that every Filipino family would have its own land and its own house. Now thousands are beginning to aspire that we can become a great nation and a great people.”—Jose Luis

70 percent of the Filipino population is classified as landless, and 26 million people have only makeshift dwellings in informal urban settlements. Top-down government interventions, such as land redistribution, have failed to significantly improve living conditions.

The Skoll Awardees: Starting from humble beginnings, Tony Meloto was an outstanding scholar who gained financial and professional success. Still, he was driven to understand how poverty had been institutionalized in his country, and began working with young gang members in one of Manila’s most dangerous slums. Through this work he came to know a fellow volunteer, Jose Luis Oquiñena, and together they crafted the vision of Gawad Kalinga, an organization whose name means “to give care” and whose development approach engages all sectors of society to end poverty, starting with housing, then adding education and livelihoods. The model emphasizes values shared by individuals and communities, and views poverty as not merely the absence of money, but the lack of community and sense of higher purpose. “Slum environments breed slum behavior” is a motto, emphasizing the importance of both physical and spiritual transformation. GK coordinates as corporate partners donate materials and employee time; local governments invest in infrastructure; owners get tax credits for donating lands; and volunteers provide sweat equity. At the time of the Award, 2,000 GK villages with 60,000 families had engaged in the transformative process. Tony ranked as the fourth most trusted person in the Philippines.

Impact since joining the portfolio in 2011:

  • Expansion to Cambodia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea.
  • Inspired the Philippines’ 2012 Kalinga Bills, also called “Volunteers for Nation Building” to institutionalize public, private, and civil sector partnerships as part of the government poverty eradication plan.
  • Coordinated relief and rebuilding efforts after Typhoons Sendong (2012) and Hayan/Yolanda (2013), building 3,000 houses and mobilizing 1.7 million volunteers.



Ambrosius Ruwindrijarto and Silverius Oscar Unggul

March 12, 2010 by

Ambrosius Ruwindrijarto (Ruwi) and Silverius Oscar Unggul (Onte) have led efforts to shift Indonesia from illegal logging to community-based logging. Ruwi co-founded Telapak in 1997, pioneering reporting on illegal logging in Indonesia’s national parks to raise awareness of the issue, both internationally and domestically. In 2006, Ruwi, together with Onte, a community organization expert, transitioned Telepak’s focus from raising awareness about the problem to rolling out solutions via community-based sustainable resource management. The first organization in Southeast Asia to help achieve group forestry certification for logging cooperatives, Telapak is scaling its model nationally, with goals of helping local communities to eventually manage millions of hectares of forest across Indonesia.

Impact since joining the portfolio in 2010:

  • In July 2012, Ruwi won the Ramon Magsaysay Award, considered Asia’s Nobel Prize.
  • Telapak has established 6 territorial offices actively engaging with 8 communities to create sustainable logging cooperatives that have the potential to collectively certify more than 200,000 hectares of forest land.
  • With the help of a UK-based environmental group, Ruwi exposed illegal logging and smuggling, sparking public outrage which pressurized Indonesia to tighten regulations on the timber trade. He was threatened with death, assaulted and once kidnapped by a timber company in central Kalimantan but never gave up.
  • Telapak worked with a community partner NGO to facilitate the first-ever Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) group certification in Southeast Asia, which has been renewed every year since.
  • Before Telapak started working in a Sulawesi district, there were 75 illegal sawmills. Now there are none.
  • Telapak manages forests sustainably, under globally-recognized certification from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). For 10 trees being cut down, they plant and care for a hectare of them—roughly 1,000 trees.
  • Where their community logging co-ops operate, illegal logging has been reduced drastically, tree coverage increased significantly, and the welfare of the local community improved greatly.
  • Their community logging co-op model is being replicated across Indonesia by more than 50 communities under Telapak’s network. Two of them have gained FSC certification, and more are in the process.



Adalberto Veríssimo and Carlos Souza Jr.

March 12, 2010 by

“We are very optimistic that is possible to reduce deforestation in the Amazon and develop this region for the people living there. But we know that this is just the beginning. We are inspired to go on build a global monitoring system covering 1 billion hectares of tropical forest that has tremendous worth for carbon, environment services, and cultural values.”

Sub-Issue: Arresting Deforestation Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is driven primarily by cattle and soy producers clearing new fields and pastures. Although Brazil’s Forest Code requires 80 percent of private lands in the Amazon to remain forested, most landowners operate with seeming impunity, knowing that the state is not equipped to monitor what happens on their lands, and rarely collects fines for illegal deforestation.

The Skoll Awardees: Adalberto (Beto) Veríssimo and Carlos Souza, Jr., are recognized leaders in tropical forest conservation, having developed, through the Amazon Institute of People and the Environment (Imazon), a deforestation monitoring system that makes it possible to know, in almost real time, where deforestation occurs. Beto co-founded Imazon in 1990, determined to find a role as an honest broker and provider of information at a time when those who wanted to save the forest and those determined to exploit it were almost literally at war. Carlos joined the team two years later, pioneering a key innovation: using state-of-the-art remote sensing and mapping to detect deforestation. This enables agencies to identify and prosecute illegal clearing, and creates strong incentives for the ranchers and producers to find alternatives – such as diversified wood products with less waste. Imazon also publishes cutting-edge scientific reports in accessible formats and works with national and international media outlets to keep information on deforestation up to date and bring public pressure on decision-makers At the time of the Award, the Brazilian government had achieved 80 percent reduction in deforestation over five years. Rigorous new limits to deforestation were enacted, and the government had committed to stop illegal logging, focusing on hotspot regions identified by Imazon.

Impact since joining the portfolio in 2010:

  • Worked with Google to develop Google Earth technology’s capacity to track deforestation; Global Forest Watch platform launched in 2014 with World Resources Institute makes it possible to monitor tree cutting worldwide.
  • Projects in development include tools to track fishing vessels and monitor sea level change.
  • In Brazil, partnership with public prosecutors facilitates enforcement of conservation laws in 75 million hectares of conservation and indigenous lands.



Michael Jenkins

March 12, 2010 by

As a forester in Haiti and Brazil, Michael Jenkins saw the effects of extreme degradation of natural ecosystems on poor people and understood that traditional philanthropy alone was insufficient to solve the problem. At the MacArthur Foundation, he reoriented the sustainable forestry program to take a whole-systems approach that outlined the forest “value chain” and identified strategies to build financial and community sustainability within the system. He founded Forest Trends in 1998 to highlight the market value of natural ecosystems to promote their conservation. Forest Trends is widely credited for advancing the concept and practical application of “payments for ecosystem services,” an innovation that is gaining widespread momentum as a powerful conservation tool for forests and ecosystems.

Impact since joining the portfolio in 2010:

  • In Jan. 2015, Forest Trends’ report, Tracking REDD+ Finance-2009-2012 – Finance Flows in Seven REDD+ Countries, was the first-ever REDDX report for 2009-2012 and tracked US$1.2 billion in REDD+ commitments and US$378 million in disbursements in seven tropical forest countries: Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Ghana, Liberia, Tanzania, and Vietnam.
  • In Sept. 2014, A comprehensive new analysis released by Forest Trends said that nearly half (49%) of all recent tropical deforestation is the result of illegal clearing for commercial agriculture.
  • On 2012, the Surui was the first indigenous tribe globally to earn carbon credits under internationally recognized standards for capturing carbon in trees, part of the Skoll-supported Amazon Corridors initiative. This resulted from years of terrific work by many, including ACT and Forest Trends.
  • Widely credited for “catalytic impact” in advancing the concept, understanding and practical application of PES, particularly in convening key stakeholders with ability to move this approach to conservation forward.
  • USDA created new Office of Ecosystem Services and Markets as a direct result of Forest Trends providing training for its senior management team for 5 years. It’s the first time a new USDA office has been created in 30 years.
  • Has built the premier global information service on ecosystem service markets — Ecosystem Marketplace.
  • Has convened 15 Katoomba Group events internationally with thousands of participants, leading to development of informal communities of experts that have further advanced PES issues, including establishment of a $50 million ecosystem service program in Mexico and advancement of PES legislation in Colombia, Malawi, Peru and Uganda.



Martin von Hildebrand

August 12, 2009 by

Martín lived with Amazonian indigenous communities during much of the 1970s, understanding their worldview and their challenges. He completed a doctorate in ethnology in Paris, returned to work within the Colombian government on promoting indigenous territorial and cultural rights and in 1986 was appointed Head of Indian Affairs. He used his government position to support Constitutional reforms, the ratification of international agreements on indigenous rights and the actual placing of large areas of Amazon rainforest legally into the hands of the indigenous people. In 1990, Martín founded Gaia Amazonas, to work more effectively at the grassroots level and enable the Amazon’s indigenous peoples to take advantage of their newfound rights.

Impact since joining the portfolio in 2009:

  • At a time when rights need to be respected, forests conserved and emissions curtailed, Martín has shifted thinking, policy and practice toward indigenous peoples and local communities owning and governing their forests.
  • Working with partners, Gaia Amazonas’ aims over 10 years for indigenous communities to protect 100 million hectares of continuous tropical rainforest in accordance with their cultural traditions/knowledge and shared government and international responsibility. In Colombia, some 35 million hectares of Amazon forest are now protected by indigenous territories or national parks.
  • In areas where Gaia Amazonas is most active, 17 indigenous organizations, representing 23,600 people from different ethnic groups, negotiate with government and govern more than 13 million hectares of forest. Their children attend local schools, receive an inter-cultural education, and their health plans, based on traditional medicine, reduce the costs of healthcare.



Munqeth Mehyar, Nader al Khateeb and Gidon Bromberg

August 12, 2009 by

Gidon received a masters’ in international environmental law at American University in 1993, focusing on the environmental implications of peace. He feared unsustainable regional development plans were being vetted as part of the then-nascent Oslo peace efforts. Gidon brought together Egyptian, Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian environmentalists to create EcoPeace Middle East. Munqeth co-founded the organization and now serves as chair and Jordanian director. Nader joined as Palestinian director in 2001 at a critical time for keeping the tripartite nature of the organization alive.

Impact since joining the portfolio in 2009:

  • After working towards this goal for two years, the Israeli High Court denied the request of the Israeli Military to approve the Battir separation barrier.
  • The West Bank village of Battir was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in part thanks to EcoPeace Middle East’s work.
  • EcoPeace Middle East is a key voice in the ongoing debate about whether it is possible to use the Red Sea to replenish the shrinking Dead Sea. They commented extensively in the press on the new water agreement signed on Dec. 9, 2013.  EcoPeace Middle East’s take: “Although the politicians are tagging this as the ‘Red Dead Canal’ project, it is far from it. Gidon Bromberg, Israeli Director of EcoPeace Middle East, explains in this op-ed The Red-Dead pipe dream.”
  • EcoPeace Middle East has involved over 10,000 Palestinian, Jordanian and Israeli neighboring residents in neighbors path tours to learn about their crossborder water issues, highlighting the interdependent nature of the water resource and the need for cooperation to advance sustainable solutions.
  • To rehabilitate the Jordan River and stabilize the Dead Sea, they are: Creating the region’s first master plan for the entire lower Jordan River valley and bringing thousands of the region’s youths together to learn; Promoting a joint Basin Commission to manage the Jordan for everyone’s benefit; Publishing the only science on what the Jordan River needs to be sustainable (see it here) and to stabilize the Dead Sea and Creating the trans-boundary Jordan River Peace Park, a key project to return fresh water to the Jordan and demonstrate the value of ecotourism.



Sue Riddlestone and Pooran Desai

August 12, 2009 by


Sue Riddlestone and Pooran Desai founded BioRegional, based on the shared vision that environmentally sustainable living was possible for them and mainstream society if products and services were developed based on making more efficient use of local renewable and waste resources – in effect creating an economy with a more circular flow of resources and a “metabolism” similar to that of a local ecosystem.


  • In Dec. 2014, the Eco-Bicester programme run by Cherwell District Council, with Bioregional, won a prestigious European energy award after being nominated by the National Energy Foundation.
  • In Jan. 2015, Grow Community, North America’s second endorsed One Planet Community, was named as one of the ten best Urban Agriculture projects worldwide by Urban Land Magazine. One Planet is an initiative of BioRegional.
  • They helped the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games team to realize the binding ambitions of the bid sustainability strategy Towards a One Planet Olympics with their sound expertise. Sue Riddlestone was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours, for services to sustainable business and to the Games.
  • In Jan. 2014, BioRegional launched a new report on making sustainable consumption and production real.
  • Three members of BioRegional’s team were listed in top 50 sustainability roles for 2012 by influential building industry publications.
  • In Nov. 2013, BioRegional collaborated on a major report which sets out to stop billions of pounds worth of food being consigned to UK landfills.
  • In China, they established a local organization in 2009 and have applied the one-planet living approach to a suburb of 20,000 people and a sustainability centre for 100,000 visitors in Guangzhou working with China’s first and third-largest real estate developers. The project was recognized with a UN award.
  • They are changing policy and practice in the field of sustainable communities internationally. Korea is using our work as a best-practice case study, Chinese Ministers are reviewing the use of our framework, and we made a significant contribution to the planning policy statement for the U.K. government’s eco-towns, which is now being used as best practice by many governments, including Quebec, Mexico and France.
  • They are enabling organizations and individuals to use the one-planet living approach to understand and reduce their eco-footprint. Nearly 3,000 people or organizations have created an action plan to reduce their impacts after attending our events or using our online tools.



Michael Eckhart

August 12, 2008 by

Mike has worked in the energy field for 30 years on both RE and traditional energy. In 1995, he decided he couldn’t do conventional power work any longer and founded the Solar Bank Initiative to finance solar energy in India, South Africa and Brazil. In 2001, along with other U.S. leaders, Mike formed ACORE to create a U.S. renewable energy community. His role as president started as a volunteer activity and grew into a full-time commitment. Since then, ACORE has created a “renewable energy” community, ending a 30-year era of stove-piped, technology-specific RE industries. Mike is the founding ACORE president and CEO, and current Managing Director and Global Head of Environmental Finance and Sustainability at Citigroup.

Impact since joining the portfolio in 2008:

  • ACORE is the only dues-paying membership group to be formed successfully in the energy and environment space since the 1970s. We’ve brought together all the players needed to make renewable energy successful in the U.S., including end users, technology companies, financial firms, universities, associations, NGOs and government agencies — all working on wind, solar, hydro, ocean, geothermal and biomass sources of energy.
  • ACORE aggressively brought the banking, investment and insurance companies into the field of renewable energy through a very high-end finance annual conference and other education. They focus on educating lawyers, accountants and consultants who support financing, increasing their level of expertise via a joint venture with the American Bar Association.
  • ACORE seeks to advance renewable energy through finance, policy, technology, and market development and concentrated its member focus in 2013 on National Defense & Security, Power Generation & Infrastructure, and Transportation.
  • ACORE led the movement to argue for the investment, economic growth and new jobs that would accompany a national commitment to renewable energy. This is now the standard argument supporting public policy proposals and has broadened the base of political support, resulting in better public policies.



Mark Plotkin and Liliana Madrigal

August 12, 2008 by

Mark and Liliana, a husband and wife team, have spent much of their lives preserving the Amazon rainforest and the knowledge and culture of its indigenous inhabitants. Liliana and Mark recognized that the loss of the forest and the destruction of tribal culture were inextricably linked and that one could not thrive without the other. Together, they created ACT to preserve the cultures of indigenous peoples of the Amazon and empower them to protect their rainforest homes.


  • In Oct. 2014, Mark gave a powerful TED talk at TEDGlobal 2014: South! in Rio.
  • In 2013, for the indigenous communities of the department of Caquetá, Colombia, ACT facilitated the receipt of a special disbursement from a government royalty fund to sponsor the strengthening and coordination of the tribes’ representation and the establishment of a center for indigenous leadership.
  • ACT, in partnership with the Kogi Indians and the Colombian Ministry of Culture, purchased a 383-acre sacred site for the Kogi that, by decision of the Colombian Ministry of Culture, was declared a new national category of protected area, a “site of national cultural interest.”
  • ACT is working with the National Parks Service of Colombia in the development of protection guidelines and contingency plans for isolated indigenous communities living within the Rió Puré and Cahuinarí National Parks in the department of Amazonas, where ACT sponsored research and overflights in 2010 and 2011 that identified the longhouses of uncontacted peoples, likely the Yuri, long believed extinct.
  • The Surui became the first indigenous tribe in the world to earn carbon credits under internationally recognized standards for capturing carbon in trees (part of our Amazon Corridors Initiative)
  • In partnership with local indigenous groups, ACT completed ethnographic and land-use mapping for over 70 million acres of Amazonian rainforest lands. Doing so has laid the groundwork for the eventual protection of those lands by providing the basis for forest management plans designed by the very people who inhabit them, with 38 million of those acres already better monitored against illegal incursions.
  • Through a course recognized by the International Ranger Federation, ACT has trained over 125 indigenous persons as park guards, providing their communities with the technical capacity and communication skills to work directly with state and national government environmental agencies to protect their forests.
  • ACT has facilitated the national registration of 30 indigenous associations in 3 Amazonian countries, providing the associated indigenous groups with the legal entity and autonomy required to build partnerships with governments in the protection of their forest lands.
  • ACT keeps traditional knowledge alive in the Amazon by supporting 96 traditional healers (shamans) and their apprentices, allowing them to focus on restoring ancestral medicinal practices in their communities.
  • In 2005, for Smithsonian magazine’s 35th anniversary issue, Mark was picked as one of “35 Who Made a Difference,” along with Bill Gates and Wynton Marsalis.
  •  In 1998, Mark starred in the IMAX film “Amazon.” 



Susan Burns and Mathis Wackernagel

August 12, 2007 by

Mathis Wackernagel’s father introduced him to The Limits to Growth when he was 10, and he grew up with a vivid awareness of the potential for global ecological collapse. He became an engineer to advance the theme of “small is beautiful” and renewable energy. He developed the Ecological Footprint while completing his Ph.D. at the University of British Columbia. He has worked on sustainability issues with businesses, academics, NGOs and governments around the world. Susan Burns, also an engineer, is a lifelong nature enthusiast and founder of Natural Strategies, a sustainability consulting firm. She created a business case for sustainability and promoted groundbreaking concepts in pollution prevention and industrial ecology. The couple launched Global Footprint Network (GFN) in 2003 to advance the Ecological Footprint, coordinate research, develop methodology standards and provide decision makers with resource accounts to help humans operate within the Earth’s ecological limits.


  • To date, Global Footprint Network has engaged with 57 countries to address their ecological constraints. Over a million people around the world every year use its Ecological Footprint calculator to measure their own Footprint.
  • Global Footprint Network works with leading scientists and 76 partner organizations in 29 countries and territories to extend Footprint research into new domains across the globe. 20 nations have initiated or completed scientific reviews of the Ecological Footprint. Japan, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, Ecuador, Finland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Scotland, Wales, the Philippines and Indonesia have formally adopted it.
  • GFN celebrates the accomplishments of these nations, challenge them to go further, and call on other nations to join them. For global impact, they need a critical mass of countries to shift their investments and policies.
  • They launch global and national “Earth Overshoot Day” media campaigns, to spark global dialogue about how we can facilitate a one-planet future
  • Wackernagel received the 2011 Zayed International Prize for the Environment, the 2006 WWF Award for Conservation Merit and the 2005 Herman Daly Award of the U.S. Society for Ecological Economics. In 2012, Wackernagel co-received both the Kenneth E. Boulding award from the International Society for Ecological Economics and the prestigious Blue Planet Prize from the Asahi Glass Foundation.
  • Their  Ten-in-Ten campaign is engaging national governments to establish the Ecological Footprint as a prominent, globally accepted metric as ubiquitous as the GDP.
  • Their stewardship of the National Footprint Accounts is bringing new levels of scientific quality and precision to the Ecological Footprint.
  • GFN’s Sustainable Human Development initiative is defining what it really means to meet human needs while maintaining natural capital.
  • Their programs for cities, businesses and financial institutions are extending the Footprint into new domains, developing new methodologies and tools and building the market for Ecological Footprinting.
  • Their work developing international Footprint Standards is advancing the integrity and comparability of Footprint applications worldwide.
  • Their network of 90-plus Partners, located on six continents, is comprised of the world’s leading Footprint practitioners and users and plays a vital role in guiding research agenda and making Footprinting relevant and practical.
  • Seven countries have formally adopted the Ecological Footprint as a measure of the sustainability of their economies, such as Ecuador. Ecuador has created a Presidential Mandate to reverse its ecological deficit by 2013 and is examining its national budget to meet this goal.
  • Working with Global Footprint Network since 2006, the United Arab Emirates redirected $15 billion into alternative energy and $22 billion into Masdar City, the first carbon-neutral, no-waste community. The Masdar Institute is working with Global Footprint Network and the government to transform key sectors.
  • Key partner World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is mobilizing around a second, new “meta goal” (after conservation): by 2050, humanity’s global footprint will be and remain within the earth’s capacity to sustain life. WWF is reorienting conservation and advocacy efforts through its global network of 49 national organizations to achieve this ambitious goal.



Vera Cordeiro

August 12, 2006 by

“Treating disease is not enough. The real need is to change the family context from poverty and misery to hope and opportunity.”

Sub-Issues: Health Delivery, Integrated Health, Livelihoods, Living Conditions, Post-Secondary Education, Women’s and Girls’ Education Millions of Brazilian children live in urban slums and suffer from poverty-related diseases. Brazil’s overwhelmed public hospitals focus on medical treatment and ignore socioeconomic and psychological problems, frequently releasing children back into the very environment that caused the disease.

The Skoll Awardee: In her work as a physician in a public hospital in Rio de Janeiro, Dr. Vera Cordeiro felt helpless and frustrated when children who had been successfully treated for an infectious disease, later returned to the hospital and died after being re-infected at home. Vera realized that to save these children she had to help entire families. She raffled off her own belongings to fund the launch of Associação Saúde Criança (Children’s Health Association) in 1991. Despite early resistance from hospital administration and social workers, Vera persevered, recruiting and providing intensive training to volunteers who then worked one-on-one with poor families. Saúde Criança has developed an integrated approach, a Family Action Plan that attends to the entire family’s situation in terms of health, income, housing, education, and citizenship. Services include provision of supplies such as milk and diapers, a family food basket, vocational training and placement, and help to improve sanitation. At the time of the Award, 350 families were enrolled, and another 1,150 families were being served by independent centers replicating the Saúde Criança program in three Brazilian states.

Impact since joining the portfolio in 2006:

  • A Georgetown University study found that families participating in Saúde Criança programs achieved durable results – 85 percent decrease in hospitalizations and 92 percent increase in income, up to 5 years after engagement with the program was completed.
  • The model has been replicated at 23 institutions in six Brazilian states, helping more than 50,000 people. Saúde Criança (itself has 10 franchises in six states and an international support office in New York.
  • The methodology is official policy in public hospitals in Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte (Brazil’s third largest city).



Gary Cohen

August 12, 2006 by

“We can no longer support healthy people on a sick planet. If we’re going to support the conditions for people to be healthy all over the world, we have to have a clean environment. Health care can be a driver of that transformation – and should be – in the name of healing.”

Sub-Issue Areas: Clean Energy; Integrated Health; Living Conditions; Responsible Supply Chains Climate change, chemical contamination and unsustainable resource use exacerbate ill health the world over — increasing pressure on already thinly stretched healthcare systems. The health sector itself, which represents 8-10 percent of global GDP, paradoxically is a significant source of pollution and contributes to the trends that undermine public health through the products and technologies it deploys, the resources it consumes, the waste it generates, and the buildings it constructs and operates.

The social entrepreneur: Gary Cohen was a travel writer whose life was changed by an assignment to draft a community guidebook about toxic chemicals. After meeting mothers working to protect their families from toxic dumps and other chemical threats, he devoted his life to environmental health. He co-directed the National Toxics Campaign and co-founded the Military Toxics Project, then helped launch a free clinic for survivors of the chemical disaster in Bhopal, India. He co-founded Health Care Without Harm in 1996, addressing the irony that the health care sector – whose practitioners take an oath to do no harm – was one of the largest sources of dioxins, mercury, and other toxic chemicals poisoning the environment. Beginning with partnerships with large providers such as Kaiser Permanente and Catholic Health Services, who adopted safer disposal practices and galvanizing group purchasers of health care supplies to demand safer products, HCWH catalyzed adoption of new standards throughout the industry for safer plastics, building materials, and cleaning products, healthier food, and reliance on sustainable and lower emission energy sources. At the time of the Skoll Award, HCWH had achieved a near complete phasing out of mercury thermometers (the main source of mercury poisoning) in the US and was taking that progress worldwide. More than 90 percent of US medical waste incinerators had been replaced with safer technologies.

Impact since joining the portfolio in 2006:

  • Global coalition includes 500 organizations in 53 countries.
  • Leadership in development and launch (2014) of the U.S. Health Care Resilience Initiative, committing to a climate-resilient U.S. health care system.
  • Launched initiative with World Health Organization to eliminate mercury-based medical devices by 2020.
  • Co-created the Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI) to embed sustainability into the core operations of American healthcare. 20 percent of US hospitals are implementing HHI strategies focused on leadership, energy, chemicals, purchasing, waste, and food.
  • Global Green and Healthy Hospitals (GGHH) initiative working to improve practices in 30,000 hospitals by 2018.



Mindy Lubber

August 12, 2006 by

Clean Energy, Living Conditions, Responsible Supply Chains, Water Management

The ways that corporations operate to create value for owners and shareholders are out of balance with the long-term health of people and the planet. Sustainability is often an afterthought, and the global climate is being irreparably harmed by largely unchecked carbon pollution.

The social entrepreneur: When the Exxon Valdez slammed into a reef and spilled a quarter-million barrels of crude oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound in 1989, the ensuing outrage created an opportunity for a public dialogue about and re-evaluation of the role and responsibility of companies as stewards of the global environment. Mindy Lubber was ready to lead that dialogue; since her teen-age years she had been an environmental advocate and entrepreneur, and was building a career that would cast her as a leading advocate for sustainability in the fields of finance, law, and government. She joined with like-minded colleagues and a network of institutional investors to elaborate an environmental code of conduct, which became the Ceres principles. Ceres went on to launch the Global Reporting Initiative, which became the standard for corporate sustainability disclosure, a network of institutional investors using their power as shareholders to advance sustainability and develop the concept of “climate risk” as a key fiduciary issue, and a network of leading companies adopting and promoting sustainability strategies.

Quote: “We know what the challenges are. The key is, integrating the solutions into our capital markets. Somehow we have got to make it clear that these issues affect all of us – our lives, our future, our bottom lines. We can change the future if we collaborate. We’re going to push each other quite hard, but we know we have no choice.”

Impact since joining the portfolio in 2006:

  • Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), now includes 110 institutional investors with collective assets totaling $13 trillion
  • Organized an investor petition with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, which led to the adoption of the world’s first mandatory climate disclosure standard in 2010, requiring climate risk disclosure by all U.S. public companies
  • GRI used for sustainability disclosure by 6,000 companies worldwide
  • Mobilized investor and business networks to support mileage targets averaging 54.5 mpg for cars and trucks sold in the U.S. by 2025. The standards, adopted in 2012, are the largest carbon-pollution-reduction measure the U.S. has taken to date.



© 2015 Skoll Foundation.