About the Initiative

Environmental change is a defining strategic challenge for current and future leaders. Its impacts run through policy areas from urban planning and infrastructure investments to financial market stability and border security. The global quest to mitigate it will affect trade policy, geopolitics, business strategy, resource valuation and other aspects of political, market, and society context.

Accelerating environmental change and its impacts on society are testing social structures at all scales. Higher temperatures, longer droughts, and changing storm intensity are reallocating risks – raising new questions for maintaining financial stability, healthy public and private insurance markets and new challenges for policy and business strategies across multiple sectors. Biodiversity loss threatens food security, and ecosystem services – while also heightening the value and tensions over remaining species-rich areas. Air, water, and soil pollution are increasingly intertwined with health outcomes and inequities – and a point of friction for global trade networks. Mitigating and adapting to climate change is increasingly a central preoccupation for development finance, from domestic funds to bi- and multilateral agencies.

Current and future leaders in global affairs will have to, among other challenges: revamp development finance to support low-carbon development, mitigation, adaptation, and recovery from loss and damage; steer climate intervention technologies toward some version of societal use; balance sovereignty over territories with global interest in avoiding climate tipping points; manage large-scale migration within and across countries; create pathways for diffusion of technologies that support a stable climate; and anticipate and contain security risks stemming from new mineral interests, newly relevant “resource territories” such as the atmosphere, space, and the poles.

The Deitz Family Initiative on Environment and Global Affairs looks at environmental change as a wide-ranging shift in our “operating environment” rather than a particular or separate policy area. The program is centered at the Jackson School but works in collaboration with the Yale School of the Environment and other departments at Yale. 

It is a part of the broader Jackson portfolio of work on climate and sustainability, which includes the Emerging Climate Leaders Fellowship and the Kerry Initiative.