David Runnalls said the time has come for him to recharge his “intellectual batteries.”
One of two international environmental leaders who will be visiting fellows at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies during the 2005-2006 academic year, Runnalls is the president of the International Institute for Sustainable Development. The institute is a think tank focused on issues of environmentally responsible economic development.
Gordon Geballe, the associate dean for student and alumni affairs and a faculty expert in sustainable development at the environmental school, said visiting fellows from other countries often provide Yale students with perspectives they would not otherwise encounter. He said the fellows offer students first-hand knowledge about how people from other nations are experiencing globalization and are handling conservation and development.
“We, along with the whole University, are trying to become more global in nature,” Geballe said. “One of the mechanisms to do this is to bring in people from around the world who will speak about their areas of expertise and give their general views about how various environmental issues are playing out in their countries.”
Runnalls said he looks forward to taking a break from his day-to-day managerial work and getting back in touch with the more academic side of the issues.
“I find I get the most inspiration from talking to young people,” said Runnalls, who hails from Canada.
The second fellow, Angela Cropper of Trinidad, has been named the Dorothy McCluskey Visiting Fellow in Conservation for spring 2006.
Cropper is president of the Cropper Foundation, a non-governmental organization that addresses environmental, developmental and gender issues in the Caribbean. She served as the first executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity when it was founded in 1992 and held a administrative position in the World Conservation Union.
FES Dean Gustave Speth said Cropper’s leadership experience makes her an ideal candidate for the fellow position, which was created in 1996 to support scientists or leaders from nonprofit environmental organizations who are looking to pursue academic study or independent research.
“She fits perfectly Dorothy McCluskey’s hopes for her fellow,” Speth said in a press release.
Runnalls said he hopes to encourage Yale students to consider working towards public policies for sustainable development.
“Development and the environment are fascinating subjects,” he said. “Today, they are areas in which NGOs and other independent groups have more influence than ever, especially compared with other issues in international politics. Discussions are more open and the negotiations are no longer only between governments of different nations.”
Runnalls said he also plans to continue research during his time at Yale, focusing on ways to advance policy that allows for international economic development while slowing the impact of climate change and consumption of fossil fuels.
Speth said Runnalls has provided strong management to his non-profit company.
“Under Runnalls’ leadership, IISD has become one of the truly outstanding policy research centers on environment and development issues internationally,” Speth said.
Runnalls co-chairs a task force for the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development and previously held positions with the North American office of the International Institute for Environment and Development and the Environment and Sustainable Development Program at the Institute for Research on Public Policy in Ottawa.
Cropper holds positions with the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, the Center for International Forestry Research, and the Trinidad and Tobago Environmental Management Authority. She has previously worked with the World Commission on Forests and Sustainable Development and the Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development in Guyana.
Past McCluskey Fellows include Wangari Maathai, the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and founder of the Green Belt Movement in Kenya, and Robert Stanton, the former director of the National Park Service.