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Top 15 Environmental Think Tanks You Should Know

Environmental think tanks are organizations that carry out research and analyze environmental issues and policies. Their prime role is to articulate environmental policies by offering evidence-based solutions, policy recommendations, and innovative ideas to governments, businesses, and civil society. These kinds of think tanks attempt to tackle imminent challenges of the environment like climate change, loss in biodiversity environment together with sustainable development. In contemporary times, when environmental problems pose one of the greatest threats, their influence has become unparalleled. Here are 15 noticeable environmental think tanks that deserve recognition:

#1. World Resources Institute (WRI) 

The World Resources Institute, known as WRI, was founded in 1982 as a renowned environmental think tank. Its primary objective is to support sustainable development and protect the environment by helping individuals, governments, and organizations make informed decisions.

WRI focuses on critical issues relating to the environment and climate change, forest restoration, water resources management, sustainable cities, and renewable energy. Through research and analysis of data insights, they guide policymakers in formulating effective environmental policies and practices.

The Global Forest Watch (GFW) platform is one major recent initiative of WRI. GFW Provides real-time monitoring and analysis of global forests through satellite imagery, data sharing, and crowd-sourcing. It helps to detect deforestation hotspots in near-real time, track tree cover loss, and stimulate action toward forest conservation.

#2. Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

The Natural Resources Defense Council is an environmental think tank formed in 1970. Its mission is to safeguard the Earth, its ecosystems, and human health by protecting natural resources.

NRDC focuses on addressing a wide range of environmental issues, including climate change, sustainable agriculture, and clean sources of energy as well as the protection of wildlife, among others. They work on environmental policy advocacy projects apart from undertaking scientific research and litigation to create positive changes and push sustainable practices.

NRDC has been active a few years back in dealing with climate change. They have played a great role in pushing for tougher regulations on greenhouse gas emissions and advocating for moving to renewable forms of energy. Their research efforts tend to focus on the economic benefits of clean energy.

#3. Greenpeace

Although not totally a conventional environmental think tank, Greenpeace is an international environment organization. It was founded in 1971 and has evolved its unique approach toward protecting the environment through activism and direct action campaigns.

Greenpeace hopes to protect the natural world, create peace, and inspire people to get them moving in creating a more sustainable future. They are known for their non-violent actions, imaginative communication strategies, and investigative research. Greenpeace works globally through collaboration with grassroots organizations, scientists, and communities who try to raise public awareness around environmental issues.

While Greenpeace research on several environmental topics, its main purpose is advocacy and mobilizing public opinion to change policy. Recent data shows that Greenpeace has been especially active in raising awareness about climate change, renewable sources of energy, advocacies against deforestation practices, fighting for ocean conservation, and raising concerns regarding the impacts of pollution.

#4. Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) 

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is a credible environmental think tank founded in 1969. Its primary objective is to use science and research as democratic tools to propagate the protection of the environment, public health, and a safe world.

UCS focuses on different pressing environmental issues such as climate change, sustainable agriculture, nuclear power safety, clean energy solutions, transportation, etc. They work towards influencing public policies by providing evidence-based research and analysis to policymakers in the media so they can garner their support along with the general public.

Currently, UCS plays an important role in defending sustainable agriculture practices that put the health of the soil at the forefront, conserve water, preserve biodiversity, and reduce pesticide dependence. Their research helps formulate policies toward more environmentally friendly agricultural systems.

#5. Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) 

The Center for Biological Diversity is an environmental think tank and advocacy organization founded in 1989. Its principal aim is to conserve and protect biodiversity, the ecosystems upon which all life depends.

CBD focuses on several key areas, including wildlife conservation and protection of habitats, legal advocacy, and promoting sustainability. Their approach involves using scientific strategies to advocate for the protected species’ conservation and their habitats.

One recent initiative of CBD is their work on protecting pollinators. Through successful campaigns pertaining to listing various pollinator species under the Endangered Species Act, they have therefore provided legal protection for them. CBD also addresses factors contributing to pollinator decline, such as pesticide use and habitat loss.

#6. World Wild Fund (WWF)

The World Wide Fund for Nature, commonly called the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), is an international environmental organization founded in 1961. Although not considered a traditional think tank, WWF has contributed significantly to shaping environmental policy and efforts on conservation.

Currently, WWF works with governments, businesses, and local communities to carry out conservation programs. For instance, WWF helps in the sustainable management of forests, protection of marine habitats and species, support for renewable energy projects, and promotion of smart agriculture practices, to name a few.

One recent example of a data-driven initiative by WWF is the Living Planet Report. It offers a detailed analysis of global biodiversity trends and assesses the health of our planet’s ecosystems. Through this data, they raise awareness of wildlife challenges as well as call for sustainable practices.

#7. Resources for the Future (RFF)

Resources for the Future (RFF) is a non-profit research organization founded in 1952 and dedicated to improving environmental, energy, and natural resource policymaking through rigorous economic analysis.

The general aim of RFF is to provide decision-making by providing objective, independent, and non-partisan research on environmental issues. They deal with climate change, energy policy, water resources management, biodiversity conservation, and sustainable land use.

RFF uses a multidisciplinary approach, mixing economics with science and law to attack complex environmental challenges. Their research sheds light on insights as well as practical solutions that help policymakers tackle trade-offs between economic development and the environment’s sustainability.

#8. Institute for European Environmental Policy

The Institute for European Environmental Policy, or IEEP, is an environmental think tank specializing in EU environmental policy and sustainable development. Founded in 1976, it boasts one of the oldest independent organizations of its kind in Europe.

On environmental protection and conservation, IEEP produces reports and studies criticizing existing policies’ effectiveness and developing improvement proposals. They also actively involve policymakers, stakeholders, along with the public in promoting sustainable solutions.

IEEP also researches integrating environmental considerations into the EU economic policies. They analyze the ever-increasing environmental footprint of various sectors like agriculture or energy and explore ways to ensure sustainability within those industries.

#9. Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)

The Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) is a distinguished environmental think tank founded in 1989. Its main objective is to utilize the power of law and legal strategies to protect the environment, foster human rights as well as ensure environmental justice.

CIEL focuses on global environmental challenges such as climate change, biodiversity conservation, management of toxic chemicals, and sustainable development. They offer legal counsel over these issues and carry out research to engage in advocacy for promoting effective environmental governance at national and international levels.

Likewise, CIEL relentlessly works on issues relating to corporate accountability and sustainability. They call for stronger regulations of multinational companies to avert environmental effects and human rights abuses.

#10. Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)

Founded in 1989, the Stockholm Environment Institute is an international non-profit research and policy organization tackling environmental and development challenges. SEI ranks as the world’s top think tank on environmental policy issues in the University of Pennsylvania’s 2019 Global Go To Think Tanks Index.

SEI works in diverse global environmental challenges, including climate change, energy transitions, water resources management, biodiversity conservation, and sustainable development goals. They engage stakeholders from academia and government organizations to civil society and businesses to address such complex issues.

SEI also plays an important role in contributing to the protection of the environment through its research on climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. It also has a crucial role in promoting sustainable water management practices. Besides, SEI equips people with the tools and information needed for informed decision-making on environmental issues by engaging in capacity-building activities and knowledge-sharing initiatives.

#11. Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) 

The Rocky Mountain Institute is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization of experts across specializations working to accelerate the clean energy transition. It was founded in 1982 by Amory Lovins, RMI’s chairman emeritus, aiming to radically improve America’s energy practices.

RMI is concerned with different aspects of clean energy, namely: renewable solutions for energy, efficiency in the use of resources, and sustainable transport. They work closely with businesses, governments, and communities to develop practical and scalable strategies that reduce carbon emissions and promote a low-carbon economy.

In addition, RMI is dedicated to sustainable transportation solutions such as EVs and efficient public transit systems. They offer expertise in EV charging infrastructure deployment plans and promote policies that mandate the electrification of any mode of transportation.

#12. Environmental Law Institute (ELI)

The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) is a non-profit, internationally recognized research, publishing, and education center strengthening environmental protection by improving law and governance worldwide. Founded in 1969, ELI’s vision is “a healthy environment, prosperous economies, and vibrant communities founded on the rule of law.”

ELI emphasizes different aspects of environmental law and policy: natural resource management, climate change, biodiversity conservation, and pollution control. Through research, education, dialogue, and publishing efforts, ELI aims to provide critical environmental recommendations for decision-makers and promote collaboration amongst stakeholders.

ELI’s key contribution to protecting the environment is through its policy research and analysis. They get deep into complex environmental issues to generate comprehensive reports that offer new ideas and strategies for innovating solutions for policymakers and legislators.

#13. Pacific Institute

The Pacific Institute is a global think tank generating science-based thought leadership through active outreach to influence local, national, and international efforts in developing sustainable water policies.

Since 1987, the Pacific Institute has envisioned a world in which society, the economy, and the environment have the water they need to thrive now and in the future. Their 2030 goal is catalyzing transformation to water resilience in light of climate change.

Its recent works involve researching and quantifying the impacts of climate change on water resources. By developing models and analyzing data, they help governments as well as organizations to understand future risks associated with changing hydrological patterns.

The Pacific Institute also talks about advancing water efficiency and conservation strategies. Through their research, they give instructions on best practices for reducing water consumption in the agriculture industry and households to attain sustainable water use.

#14. International Institute for Environment and Development

The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) is an independent policy research institute whose stated mission is to “build a fairer, more sustainable world, using evidence, action and influence in partnership with others.” IIED was founded by Barbara Ward in 1973, who was one of the first people to articulate the concept of sustainable development

IIED strategies to protect the environment include using various methods. For instance, it collaborates closely with local communities and encourages community-based natural resource management initiatives. Through participation in inclusive approaches that recognize the rights and knowledge of local people, IIED is helping bring about sustainable practices whose outcome is the protection of ecosystems and enhancing resilience.

IIED also conducts in-depth research to understand the socioeconomic impacts of climate change on vulnerable populations. Their findings contribute to global efforts to build adaptive capacity and ensure climate justice for those most affected by environmental changes.

#15. European Environmental Bureau (EEB)

The European Environmental Bureau is Europe’s largest network of environmental citizen organizations. It was formed back in 1974 and encompasses over 180 member organizations from 40 different countries. The EEB stands for sustainable development, environmental justice, global equity, transparency, and participatory democracy.

Concerning environmental protection, they monitor and analyze EU Legislation related to environmental issues closely, thus ensuring that strong protection standards exist. Through authoritative knowledge and evidence-based recommendations, they contribute towards the effective shaping of such crucial subjects as carbon neutrality or circular economy principles.

Moreover, the EEB makes activism on sustainable practices a part of its activities by boosting public consciousness over pressing environmental issues. They organize initiatives like Earth Overshoot Day or Plastic Free July campaigning to bug individuals and businesses to adopt more environment-friendly behavior.