EPIBuilding a Sustainable Future
Press Room
Media Advisories

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                               Contact: Reah Janise Kauffman
Tuesday, January 20, 2015                                                              202-496-9290 ext. 12


Earth Policy Institute Announces Plans to Cease Operations
Founder Lester Brown to Retire in June 2015 after Decades-Long Career


WASHINGTON, DC – The Earth Policy Institute (EPI), a leading think tank founded by global environmental leader Lester Brown, announced today that it intends to close its doors at the end of June. Brown, whose career has spanned more than half a century working on global environmental issues, plans to retire at that time.

“After careful consideration of my life at 80 years,” said Brown, “and with profound appreciation to my staff, collaborators and supporters, I have decided to step down as president of the Earth Policy Institute and end its work as of July 1, 2015.”

Brown continued, “I believe the Earth Policy Institute has accomplished what we set out to do when we began in 2001, and now it is time for me to make a shift and no longer carry the responsibility of managing an organization. I plan to continue to research and write on issues that I believe I can add to in some meaningful way.”

EPI Board and staff are delighted to announce that Rutgers University, Mr. Brown’s alma mater, will be establishing a Lester R. Brown Reading Room in late 2015. Among other things, it will have not only the original English editions of his books, but the entire collection of some 600 language editions of his books. Rutgers will also take over the hosting of EPI’s website, earth-policy.org, and maintain it as an archive.

EPI’s staff, Board and donors expressed their gratitude to Mr. Brown for his many years of leadership and hailed his unique global role in calling attention to, and providing innovative solutions for, the environmental and resource challenges that confront our civilization.

Since its founding, EPI has published 13 books, with the fourteenth – The Great Transition: Shifting from Fossil Fuels to Solar and Wind Energy – slated for release in spring 2015. EPI has also produced hundreds of Plan B Updates, Eco-Economy Indicators, Data Highlights, Fact Sheets, and Book Bytes. Plan B and Brown’s work were also featured in the 2011 PBS documentary, Plan B: Mobilizing to Save Civilization produced by Screenscope.

Mr. Brown has published more than fifty books, which are translated into 43 languages, and include, through EPI, Eco-Economy: Building an Economy for the Earth (2001); Plan B: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble (2003); World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse (2011); and Breaking New Ground: A Personal History (2013).

EPI's Board of Directors acknowledged Brown's decision and passed a resolution thanking him for his years of leadership and service. The resolution noted that "For half a century, Brown and his colleagues have written authoritatively on nearly all the sustainability issues facing our species as we diminish the Earth's life support systems. Their work was characterized with unwavering accuracy and an uncanny capacity to foresee the impact of burgeoning human numbers, pressing energy needs, rapacious water consumption, shrinking tropical forests and fisheries, expanding deserts and stressed croplands. Despite these challenges, Brown always offered a hope-filled action plan for the future. After a stunning run as a writer, leader and pioneer, Brown's lifework is a reminder of what one can accomplish. We recall the words of the Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu, ‘His merit secure, the leader steps aside.’"

Reah Janise Kauffman, EPI’s co-founder and Vice President, also thanked EPI’s supporters for their years of hard work and dedication. “We are truly grateful for the support received over the years from our staff, Board and donors,” said Kauffman. “Our Board members, Judy Gradwohl, Raisa Scriabine, Bill Mansfield, Scott McVay, Hamid Taravati, and Jeremy Waletzky, have played a critical role over the years and now in the resolution of EPI. Special thanks to Judy, our board chair, for her wise counsel in helping with this transition."

“We also give thanks to Roger and Vicki Sant for EPI’s startup grant, to the financial support we have received from the Gellert, Goldman, Hewlett, Jones, Lannan, McBride Family, Shenandoah, Turner, Wallace Genetic, Weeden, Winslow foundations, the Educational Foundation of America, and the UN Population Fund. We are also indebted to the generosity of individual donors including, importantly, Fred Stanback, Col. Henry Ingwersen, Harriett Crosby, Junko Edahiro, John McBride, and Laney Thornton."

“The tremendous work EPI has produced also would have been impossible without our stellar staff,” Kauffman continued, “whose tireless efforts have made our aspirations a reality. Particular thanks go to Millicent Johnson, Janet Larsen, J. Matthew Roney, Emily E. Adams, and Julianne Simpson, who will be with us as we say goodbye to EPI. We know they will continue to make outstanding contributions in their work on our most pressing collective challenges.”

Brown began his career as a tomato farmer in New Jersey. The time he spent on farms in India in 1956 under the auspices of the International Farm Youth Exchange changed his worldview and career trajectory. In 1959, Brown joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service as an international analyst, and went on to become the adviser to Secretary of Agriculture Orville Freeman on foreign agricultural policy. In 1966, the Secretary appointed him Administrator of the department's International Agricultural Development Service where he managed USDA’s technical assistance programs in 42 developing countries.

In early 1969, he left government to help establish the Overseas Development Council. In 1974, with support of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Lester Brown founded the Worldwatch Institute, the first research institute devoted to the analysis of global environmental issues. In his book Building a Sustainable Society, Brown developed more thoroughly the concept of sustainable development, a concept he had pioneered in The Twenty Ninth Day and earlier writings. Mr. Brown left Worldwatch to found EPI in May 2001, to provide a vision and a road map for creating an environmentally sustainable economy.

EPI also extended its thanks for years of support from its publishers, particularly Drake McFeely and Amy Cherry of W.W. Norton, which has been publishing Lester Brown’s books for 40 years. Brown’s books have also been published around the world, and EPI thanked its global publishing collaborators including Lin Zixin in China, Hamid Taravati and Farzaneh Bahar in Iran, Gianfranco Bologna and the team at Edizioni Ambiente in Italy, Soki Oda in Japan, Editura Tehnica in Romania, Lars and Doris Almström in Sweden, Doyosae Books founded by Yul Choi in South Korea, TEMA in Turkey, Earthscan in the U.K., David Biro in Hungary, Cyril Ivanov of Paper Tiger in Bulgaria, Pierre-Yves Longaretti and Philippe Vieille in France, Gilberto Rincon of the Centre of Studies for Sustainable Development in Colombia for the Spanish edition, Maurits Groen MGMC in The Netherlands, and Makis Fountoulis of Editio Chronico in Greece.

- end -

For more information on Mr. Brown’s and EPI’s work, please visit http://www.earth-policy.org/.

ABOUT EARTH POLICY INSTITUTE: Earth Policy Institute is a research organization dedicated to planning a sustainable future and providing a roadmap of how to get from here to there. More on EPI available at earth-policy.org.


Lester Brown in Korea  

Media Contact:
Reah Janise Kauffman
(202) 496-9290 x 12
[email protected]