International Initiatives

The most significant and pressing environmental problems transcend national borders. Threats such as climate change, resource scarcity, and air pollution are global and inherently complex—as such they necessitate global responses that are informed by the best available scientific knowledge. The mission of NCSE is not limited to a national context. NCSE is developing a new portfolio of work with the ambition of advancing the use of science to inform environmental decision-making internationally.

Through its international initiatives, NCSE aims to advance the following objectives:

  • Broaden the spectrum of scientific knowledge available and relevant to international policymaking, including making the knowledge and expertise of NCSE Members accessible to international decision-makers, leaders, and influencers.
  • Grow and support an academic culture that promotes and incentivizes proactive engagement with policy- and decision-makers at all levels of government and across sectors.

  • Nurture awareness and value by decision-makers for the use of science in environmental governance.

Current international partners include INSERM (Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale), the Embassy of France in the United States, and UN Environment.


Global Partnership with Long Island University

NCSE has entered into a global partnership with Long Island University (LIU) to advance the shared priority of work on science policy internationally. LIU and NCSE have established several initiatives as part of the collaboration: 

  • Román Macaya Hayes Global Science Diplomacy Fellowship honors Román Macaya Hayes, a scientist and former Costa Rican Ambassador to the United States widely known for his work to advance global science diplomacy. 
  • Certificate in Science Diplomacy provides students with the opportunity to work alongside a network of global experts and international scientists.
  • International Science Alliance on Environmental Health explores opportunities to increase engagement and collaboration between the scientific community and policymakers to improve the scientific basis of environmental decision-making at all levels of government with a focus on environmental health.


French-American Research Partnership on Plastic Pollution: Responding to the Plastic Challenge Through Science

Together with the Embassy of France in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the GDR (Groupement de Recherche) Polymers and Oceans of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), NCSE is working to launch a French-American Research Partnership on Plastic Pollution (Partnership). The Partnership responds to the increasing political and public awareness of the negative environmental and health impacts of micro- and nanoplastics, which are omnipresent in our environment. 

Due to their physical and chemical characteristics, microplastics (tiny particles under 5 mm in length) and nanoplastics (plastic fragments in the <100 nm size range) constitute a particular challenge as they are present across air, soil and sediment, freshwaters, seas and oceans, plants and animals, and in the global food system thereby also affecting human health. While the scientific knowledge on these pervasive contaminants is increasing, important uncertainties prevail. There is a compelling need for sharing research results across national borders and pursuing joint scientific investigations that can shape national strategies to curb plastic pollution.

The Partnership aims to identify and fill remaining knowledge gaps, and to produce actionable scientific knowledge to provide decision-makers with information that can inform, and potentially mitigate, the challenges of micro- and nanoplastics. The Partnership will mobilize the deep expertise of the NCSE community and the CNRS/GDR Polymers and Oceans network of 45 French laboratories. In addition, the Partnership will engage other research institutions government agencies, industry, and other key stakeholders.


Biosphere Declaration

A Declaration on the Integrity of the Earth's Biosphere and a Just Future for All

Chaired by Dr. Thomas E. Lovejoy, the Biosphere Declaration is a leadership initiative conceived of by the National Council for Science and the Environment and the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.


We, the undersigned scientists representing the physical, life, social and applied sciences, call upon leaders from science, government, business and finance for the following actions which align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, Paris Agreement, and the Convention on Biological Diversity, to protect the integrity of the Earth’s biosphere and a dignified future for all human beings on Earth.  

Each action and commitment stated here is grounded in science, a process of rigorous, creative, and unceasing inquiry and discovery by which we collectively understand and add to our knowledge of the world. Science informs us that our life-flourishing biosphere faces grave consequences should anthropogenic warming continue. 

We must marshal our collective will and dedicate ourselves to these actions: 

  1. We must stay below +1.5C in global temperature.[1]
  2. We must rapidly transition to renewable energy sources, achieving near-zero economy-wide emissions by 2050. This transition must be made with an unwavering commitment to improving the lives of the poor and disadvantaged and a commitment to continued opportunity for those whose livelihoods have been dependent upon the old economy.   
  3. We must protect, restore, and connect 50% of the world’s lands in order to maintain the functioning of ecosystems, including terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems. 
  4. We must preserve and enhance the ability of forests, mangrove swamps, and saltwater marshes to draw down CO2 from the atmosphere, to protect communities from climate impacts, and to ensure the continued functioning of the world’s terrestrial carbon sinks and watersheds as the world gets warmer.

Doing so will increase our ability to feed the world’s population and improve the lives and well being of humans estimated to reach 10B by mid-century. Carbon-zero land use practices, crop-shifting, urban agriculture, and efforts to eliminate the extraordinary waste built into our current agricultural system will increase nutrition worldwide.

Environmentally appropriate and socially beneficial approaches to achieving these goals of preserving the Earth’s habitability and enhancing human rights and well-being become most easily apparent and achievable in genuine partnership between scientists, policymakers and community members.

In this work, we cannot fail.  

[1] Allowing for a short-team peak of 1.6C.


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