Ken Conca, Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order

This week on Sustainability Now!, your host, Justin Mog, brings you the University of Louisville’s 2021 Grawemeyer Award Lecture on Global Environmental Governance, which was held virtually on April 13th. Ken Conca is the 2021 Grawemeyer Award winner for Ideas Improving World Order, and he spoke on his award winning ideas set forth in his book "An Unfinished Foundation: The United Nations and Global Environmental Governance." Learn more at

The UN must rethink its approach to environmental problems. The United Nations can tackle global environmental challenges far more effectively by incorporating two overlooked parts of its mandate—human rights and peace—into its efforts. So says Ken Conca, an American University international relations professor. The U.N. has addressed environmental issues using legal and sustainable development approaches but also needs to pursue strategies linked to its role as a protector of human rights and peace. The organization should declare a safe and healthy environment to be a basic human right, give its Security Council a well-defined role in safeguarding the environment, make sure its environmental initiatives are conflict-sensitive and seek environmental peace-building opportunities.

Conca is a member of the U.N. Environment Programme’s Expert Advisory Group on Conflict and Peace-building and founded the Environmental Peace-building Working Group in Washington. He was a reviewer for the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and served on a scientific steering committee for the International Human Dimensions Program on Global Environmental Change. He has twice won the International Studies Association’s award for best international environmental affairs book.

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