Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) Columbia University
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The Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) is a center within the Earth Institute at Columbia University. CIESIN works at the intersection of the social, natural, and information sciences, and specializes in on-line data and information management, spatial data integration and training, and interdisciplinary research related to human interactions in the environment.

Selected Blog Posts
Report Assesses Risks to World’s Shared River Basins
Risks for the world's Transboundary River Basins are projected to increase in the next 15–30 years, particularly in four hotspot regions: the Middle East, Central Asia, the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna basin, and the Orange and Limpopo basins in Southern Africa.

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In the Spotlight

Latest Environmental Performance Index Released at World Economic Forum

image from 2016 EPI report cover

More deaths globally occur from poor air quality than from water, and more than half the world’s population is subject to unsafe air—these are some of the findings of the 2016 Performance Environmental Index (EPI) released January 23 at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The biennial report, produced this year by the Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy (YCELP), Yale Data-Driven Environmental Solutions Group at Yale University, and CIESIN, in collaboration with the Samuel Family Foundation, McCall MacBain Foundation, and the World Economic Forum, ranks country performance on high-priority environmental issues in two broad policy areas: protection of human health from environmental harm and protection of ecosystems. The 2016 EPI measures the performance of 180 countries in nine categories of environmental concern.

A major goal of the EPI is to organize the best available information to make it as relevant as possible.  “Even when data exists, policymakers often struggle to apply this information appropriately,” notes Marc Levy, CIESIN deputy director. “The EPI works to identify and address these blind spots within existing policy goals. For instance, a new biodiversity indicator weeds out protected areas that do not intersect with species’ habitats, showing where national parks may be ineffective at protecting species.”  

The 2016 version of the EPI awards Finland the top slot, followed by Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, and Slovenia. These five environmental leaders have policies that target protections to natural and built environments, with strong commitments to renewable energy. Finland’s top rank indicates its commitment to achieving a carbon-neutral society that will not exceed nature’s carrying capacity by 2050. Countries performing poorly—such as lowest ranked Somalia, Eritrea, Madagascar, Niger, and Afghanistan—are reminders that stable governance is necessary for effective environmental management and conflict disrupts environmental performance. Around one-third of countries that were scored on Climate and Energy are reducing their carbon intensity, and globally, trends in carbon intensity show a slight decline.

See: 2016 Environmental Performance Index
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