Renewable Natural 

Resources Foundation


RNRF, Member Organization, and International News

Jump To:    RNRF        AGU        AMS        ASCE        ASLA        AWRA         GSA        SETAC         SWST          International

American Geophysical Union

World’s Largest Earth and Space Science Meeting to Take Place in New Orleans, then Washington, D.C.

The American Geophysical Union (AGU) has announced that its annual Fall Meeting, an event that regularly attracts more than 25,000 Earth and space scientists and other participants from around the world, will move to New Orleans in 2017 and to Washington, D.C. in 2018.

For nearly 50 years, the AGU Fall Meeting has been held in San Francisco. During that time, it has grown from a gathering of a few hundred researchers to the largest Earth and space science event in the world. In 2015, it included more than 23,000 poster and oral presentations; hundreds of networking, education and social events; lectures from prominent speakers like Elon Musk and Dr. France Cordova, director of the National Science Foundation; and the launch of a new XPRIZE for ocean discovery. Construction associated with a major renovation of San Francisco’s Moscone Center that would impact needed space for the meeting prompted the move.

“The Fall Meeting is a major force in advancing the Earth and space sciences. If you look back over the last 50 years, the number of discoveries that were first reported during one of our sessions or in our poster hall is staggering,” said AGU’s Executive Director/CEO Christine McEntee. “Maintaining that level of excellence is a significant responsibility for AGU, and we are committed to finding new and innovative ways to help our attendees share their science with one another and with the world. I believe the opportunities that await us in New Orleans and Washington will contribute greatly to the achievement of that goal.”

This world-renowned event draws scientists from around the globe and across the spectrum of the Earth and space sciences, including areas such as hydrology, climate science, ocean research, space physics, planetary science, seismology, tectonophysics, volcanology, atmospheric science and Earth and space science informatics. Attendees come from academia and the public and private sectors, and typically represent nearly 100 different countries. In 2015, more than 7,600 students attended the meeting. The event also draws hundreds of exhibitors and vendors, ranging from equipment manufacturers and technology companies, to academic institutions and government agencies.

The meeting will remain in San Francisco in 2016, and plans are underway to return to the City by the Bay, in 2019 when AGU hopes to celebrate its Centennial in the newly renovated Moscone Center.


AGU wrote to federal agency heads on January 26, expressing concern over recent reports about violations of scientific integrity and interference with public access to and communication of scientific information.

In the letter AGU emphasized scientific integrity and transparency as critical to "advancing national security, a strong economy, public health, and food security." AGU calls on the agencies, and the administration, to reverse policies that threaten scientific integrity and open communication as soon as possible and urges that they not be reinstated.

"Access to scientific information improves and informs many aspects of our everyday lives," said Chris McEntee, AGU's Executive Director and CEO. "AGU will be monitoring to see if the policies have been lifted and whether the scientific information that is currently available remains. It is critical to our economic success, national security and public health that the American people continue to receive to the most up-to-date scientific research and information."

The letter was sent to the following agencies and institutions:

Department of Agriculture
Department of Energy
Department of the Interior
Department of State
Environmental Protection Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Park Service
National Science Foundation
United States Geological Survey

AGU has a position statement related to scientific integrity entitled, "AGU Supports Free and Open Communication of Scientific Findings." The statement was adopted in 2011 and reaffirmed in September 2016.

In late 2016, AGU launched a petition calling on the new administration to make the appointment of a scientific advisor a top priority. The petition currently has nearly 9,000 signatures.

For more information contact AGU, 2000 Florida Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009; (202) 462-6900,

American Meteorological Society

Milestones for the AMS Education Program

In a milestone year for the now 25-year-old AMS Education Program, one of the proudest achievements was the successful completion of the five-year AMS Climate Studies Diversity Project. This NSF-funded initiative introduced and enhanced geoscience and/or sustainability teaching at nearly 100 minority-serving institutions (MSIs) since 2011.

The AMS Annual Meeting in New Orleans was the final event in the project; it included a Sunday workshop bringing together 18 faculty from minority-serving institutions who had attended the project’s May 2015 workshop on implementing the AMS Climate Studies course. The faculty not only attended the workshop; they also presented at the subsequent Education Symposium of the Annual Meeting.

Overall in the Climate Studies Diversity Project, AMS was able to partner with Second Nature, a nonprofit working toward societal sustainability through a network of colleges and universities, to recruit 101 faculty to attend Climate Studies workshops in Washington, D.C. to learn from top scientists at Howard University, NOAA, and NASA. The attendees then incorporated the AMS Climate Studies course materials, real-time data, and lessons in their teaching.

Since 2001, in faculty enhancement through the AMS Weather Studies and Ocean Studies courses and now the Climate Studies Diversity Project, AMS has engaged 24,000 students through 220 MSIs.

For more information, contact AMS, 45 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108; (617) 227-2425,

American Society of Civil Engineers

Report Estimates Failure to Act on Infrastructure Costs Families $3,400 a Year

ASCE’s Failure to Act: Closing the Infrastructure Investment Gap for America’s Economic Future 2016 report, released May 10, estimates that continued underinvestment in infrastructure will cost each U.S. family $3,400 a year over the next decade.

The report is the latest in a series of Failure to Act studies, launched in 2011, that assesses how the nation’s failure to improve its infrastructure systems affects economic performance. The 2016 study builds on the models established in the 2011 and 2012 research, updating data and projections for infrastructure in five different sectors:

•    surface transportation
•    water and wastewater
•    electricity
•    airports
•    inland waterways and marine ports infrastructure

The analysis shows that in the years since the earlier reports, various state actions along with some federal funding measures have helped stabilize the infrastructure gap, but the overall picture remains – underinvestment is negatively affecting the nation’s economy. The most significant gap, according to the report, is in the transportation sector, where an estimated additional $1 trillion is needed across the network (including roads, bridges, and rail) during the next decade. For businesses, this can mean increased production costs, increased cost of travel, and decreased consumer spending. At home, it can mean fewer jobs, lower incomes, and more expensive infrastructure in the form of higher costs for transportation, electricity, and water.

As daunting as the challenges seem, the majority of the projections remain in the future tense. The report suggests that the economic consequences to both families and businesses could be avoided with an additional investment from Congress and the states of $144 billion each year.

For more information, contact ASCE, 1801 Alexander Bell Drive, Reston, VA 20191; (800) 548-2723,

Focus on Sustainability, Leadership Highlight Spring Board Meeting

All civil engineering must be sustainable. That was the message from the ASCE Committee on Sustainability during its progress report at the spring Board of Direction meeting, March 18-19, in Arlington, VA.

It was a message that mixed urgency with optimism as the committee detailed to the Board the success of its recent Sustainability Summit and prepared its forthcoming strategic roadmap for this aspect of the ASCE Sustainable Infrastructure strategic initiative. The summit brought civil engineers, educators, and stakeholders together to discuss the urgent sustainability issues facing the profession.

The committee engaged the Board in a lively discussion about some of those issues, including the value of keeping the public’s sustainable well-being front and center in providing project options for the client, the need for taking a systems approach to civil engineering, the importance of engineers being involved during the planning stage, and the challenges involved in spending more money up front to get longer-term, life-cycle savings.

The summit outcomes, along with the Board member input, will help shape the sustainability roadmap – a plan detailing the initiative’s future direction, to be presented to the Board in July.
For more information, contact ASCE, 1801 Alexander Bell Drive, Reston, VA 20191; (800) 548-2723,

American Society of Landscape Architects

Registration Opens for 2016 ASLA Annual Meeting & EXPO in New Orleans

Registration is now open for the American Society of Landscape Architects’ (ASLA) 2016 Annual Meeting & EXPO planned for October 21-24 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. This annual meeting is the largest gathering of landscape architecture professionals and students in the world.

According to ASLA President Chad D. Danos, FASLA, New Orleans offers a distinctive location for the annual meeting, themed “A Celebration of Place.”

More than 6,000 attendees are expected, and the meeting will feature a diverse spectrum of industry experts providing perspectives on a wide range of subjects, from sustainable design to active living to best practices and new technologies.

More than 130 education sessions, field sessions, and workshops will be presented during the meeting, providing attendees with the opportunity to earn up to 21 professional development hours under the Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System™ (LA CES™).

Many of the sessions will also qualify for continuing education credit with the Green Building Certification Institute (toward LEED AP credential maintenance), the American Institute of Architects, the American Institute of Certified Planners, and other allied professional organizations and state registration boards.

The EXPO—the largest trade show in the industry—will feature nearly 500 exhibitors offering thousands of new products, services, technology applications, and design solutions, all under one roof.

For more information contact ASLA, 636 Eye Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001; (202) 898-244,

American Water Resources Association

2016 AWRA Summer Specialty Conference: GIS and Water Resources IX

AWRA’s 2016 Summer Specialty Conference on GIS and Water Resources will take place in Sacramento, CA on July 11-13, 2016. Management of water resources requires many decisions, both long term for planning and short term for operations management. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as a technology has been used in the water resources domain since its inception. Traditionally, GIS was focused on data management and processing to streamline development of information products based on spatial data, and was thus a natural fit for water resources implementations. As technology and its utilization have matured, GIS is more and more used not only for data acquisition and processing, but also to directly support water resources decisions. The "information" products are now becoming "decision" products that are used on daily basis to support water management decisions in many domains that water resources covers.

The conference will focus on the role of GIS to support better decisions across broad spectrum of water resources. Decisions related to floods, droughts, water quality, and policy aspects of water resources will be covered.

For more information contact AWRA, P.O. Box 1626, Middleburg, VA 20118; (540) 687-8390,

Geological Society of America

GSA Annual Meeting

GSA’s 2016 Annual Meeting will take place in Denver, CO from September 25-28, 2016. Several scientific field trips are available as part of the GSA 2016 experience. This includes an International Student Field Trip to National Parks in the western U.S.

The field trip is intended to provide an unusual opportunity for those international participants who travel to the GSA annual meeting from outside of North America. The national parks of the western U.S. provide a unique and safe opportunity to explore some of the world’s most famous and best-exposed geological regions on the Colorado Plateau and the central Basin-and-Range Province. The geological goals are to understand the basic sedimentological, structural, and geomorphological architecture of the Colorado Plateau, and to examine the deformational and erosional overprint, as well as local cultural and environmental highlights of the Basin-and-Range Province. The trip will start at Frenchman mountain, Hoover Dam, then swing eastward to Grand Canyon, Sunset Craters, Wupatki. From there the route heads westward into the Basin and Range Province via Death Valley.

For more information, contact GSA, P.O. Box 9140, Boulder, CO 80301; (303) 357-1806,

Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry

Advancing the Adverse Outcome Pathway Concept

Regulatory agencies and industry worldwide are confronted with the challenging task of assessing the risks of thousands of chemicals to the environment and human health. Traditional toxicity testing strategies rely on whole animal studies, which, in addition to ethical concerns, are cost and time prohibitive. As a result, the utility of mechanistic-based approaches to support chemical safety evaluations have increasingly been explored. One approach that has gained traction for capturing available knowledge for describing the linkage between mechanistic data and apical toxicity endpoints required for regulatory assessments is the Adverse Outcome Pathway (AOP) framework.

SETAC is initiating a Horizon Scanning effort to advance the science and application of the AOP framework. This approach will help identify and begin to address recognized, on-going, and remaining issues relevant to the application of the AOP framework to chemical risk assessment in the context of both human and ecological health.  SETAC is asking members of the global scientific community to propose questions that consider key outstanding or limitations that must be addressed in order to realize the full potential of the AOP framework in research and regulatory decision- making. Questions can be submitted through June 30, 2016.

For more information, contact SETAC, 229 S. Baylen Street, Pensacola, FL 32502; (850) 469-1500,

Society of Wood Science and Technology

2017 IUFRO Conference

The 2017 International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) Conference will take place from June 12-16, 2017 in Vancouver, BC. In recognition of the pressing global need for the forest sector to be a leader in sustainability, diversification, and innovation, the theme of the conference is “Forest Sector Innovations for a Greener Future.”

This Innovation/Sustainability theme will form a unifying basis for the week-long Conference and will guide the agenda through a series of plenary sessions that will catalyze discussion on what the future forest products sector might look like. Each morning will feature two keynote presentations; one a research-based talk featuring a prominent academic, the other a more pragmatic, real-world talk featuring a prominent practitioner from industry, government, civil society, or an indigenous community. Plenary topics include:

▪    Forest Sector Innovation: How can innovative forest sector based environmental and social approaches assure a greener future for our global      society?
▪    Innovations in Forest Products and Services: How will fiber and forests be used in the near and long term?
▪    Innovations in Wood Building and Design: What will the next generation’s needs for shelter and buildings be and how will they be met?
▪    Innovations in Forest Management, Policy and Market: Will there be enough biomass and sustainable products to support the growing global      population?
▪    Innovations in Business Models and Management: What will the businesses of forestry look like in the near and long-term?

For more information contact SWST, P.O. Box 6155, Monona, WI 53716; (608) 577-1342,

International Academy of Wood Science (IAWS) Celebrates 50th Anniversary in Paris, France

IAWS celebrated its 50th anniversary in the city where it was founded in 1966-- Paris, France. The celebration was held from June 1 to 6, 2016. Over 70 attendees from 20 countries were treated to an excellent conference with the theme: "Wood Science for the Future," held in the historic rooms of the French Academy of Agriculture in central Paris near the Seine River. Thirty technical talks were presented related to the theme of the conference. SWST has had several of its members elected to the Academy since its inception and several members participated in this celebration.

Gerd Wegener from the Technical University of Munich was honored with the Academy Lecture for his outstanding achievements in wood science and his long-year support of the Academy, e.g. as the editor-in-chief of SWST's journal "Wood Science and Technology" from 1996-2013. His Lecture "1966-2016: Science and Use of Wood in a Changing World" focused on the increasing global role of forests and wood utilization for a future post-fossil society. Another highlight of the conference was the presentation by Michaela Zauner who won the 2015 IAWS PhD Award for an outstanding thesis/dissertation research at the PhD level from ETH in Zürich, Switzerland. Her topic was "In-situ Synchrotron-Based Tomographic Microscopy of Uniaxial Loaded Wood: In-situ Testing Device, Procedures and Experimental Investigations."

For more information visit IAWS's website at

World Health Organization

An estimated 12.6 million deaths each year are attributable to unhealthy environments

An estimated 12.6 million people died as a result of living or working in an unhealthy environment in 2012—nearly 1 in 4 of total global deaths, according to new estimates from WHO. Environmental risk factors such as air, water and soil pollution, chemical exposures, climate change, and ultraviolet radiation contribute to more than 100 diseases and injuries.

Noncommunicable diseases contribute to largest share of environment-related deaths. The second edition of the report, Preventing disease through healthy environments: a global assessment of the burden of disease from environmental risks, reveals that since the report was first published a decade ago, deaths due to noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), mostly attributable to air pollution (including exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke), amount to as much as 8.2 million of these deaths. NCDs, such as stroke, heart disease, cancers and chronic respiratory disease, now amount to nearly two-thirds of the total deaths caused by unhealthy environments.

At the same time, deaths from infectious diseases, such as diarrhea and malaria, often related to poor water, sanitation and waste management, have declined. Increases in access to safe water and sanitation have been key contributors to this decline, alongside better access to immunization, insecticide-treated mosquito nets and essential medicines.

“A healthy environment underpins a healthy population,” says Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General. “If countries do not take actions to make environments where people live and work healthy, millions will continue to become ill and die too young.”

The report emphasizes cost-effective measures that countries can take to reverse the upward trend of environment-related disease and deaths. These include reducing the use of solid fuels for cooking and increasing access to low-carbon energy technologies.

“There’s an urgent need for investment in strategies to reduce environmental risks in our cities, homes and workplaces,” said Dr. Maria Neira, WHO Director, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health. “Such investments can significantly reduce the rising worldwide burden of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, injuries, and cancers, and lead to immediate savings in healthcare costs.”

Environmental risks take their greatest toll on young children and older people, the report finds, with children under 5 and adults aged 50 to 75 years most impacted. Yearly, the deaths of 1.7 million children under 5 and 4.9 million adults aged 50 to 75 could be prevented through better environmental management. Lower respiratory infections and diarrheal diseases mostly impact children under 5, while older people are most impacted by NCDs.

Regionally, the report finds, low- and middle-income countries in the WHO South-East Asia and Western Pacific Regions had the largest environment-related disease burden in 2012, with a total of 7.3 million deaths, most attributable to indoor and outdoor air pollution. Further regional statistics listed in the report include:

•    2.2 million deaths annually in African Region
•    847 000 deaths annually in Region of the Americas
•    854 000 deaths annually in Eastern Mediterranean Region
•    1.4 million deaths annually in European Region
•    3.8 million deaths annually in South-East Asia Region
•    3.5 million deaths annually in Western Pacific Region

Low- and middle-income countries bear the greatest environmental burden in all types of diseases and injuries, however for certain NCDs, such as cardiovascular diseases and cancers, the per capita disease burden can also be relatively high in high-income countries.

The report cites proven strategies for improving the environment and preventing diseases. For instance, using clean technologies and fuels for domestic cooking, heating and lighting would reduce acute respiratory infections, chronic respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases and burns. Increasing access to safe water and adequate sanitation and promoting hand washing would further reduce diarrheal diseases.

Tobacco smoke-free legislation reduces exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke, and thereby also reduces cardiovascular diseases and respiratory infections. Improving urban transit and urban planning, and building energy-efficient housing would reduce air pollution-related diseases and promote safe physical activity.

Many cities around the world are already implementing many of these cost-effective measures. Curitiba, Brazil has invested heavily in slum upgrading, waste recycling, and a popular “bus rapid transit” system which is integrated with green spaces and pedestrian walkways to encourage walking and cycling. Despite a five-fold population increase in the past 50 years, air pollution levels are comparatively lower than in many other rapidly growing cities and life expectancy is 2 years longer than the national average.

Through WHO’s water safety plans, which work to identify and address threats to drinking-water safety, Amarapuri, Nepal identified open defecation as a water quality hazard contributing to diseases in the area. As a result, the village built toilets for each household and was later declared an Open Defecation Free Zone by the local government.

Currently, WHO is working with countries to take action on both indoor and outdoor air pollution. At the World Health Assembly in May, WHO will propose a road map for an enhanced global response by the health sector aimed at reducing the adverse health effects of air pollution.

The second edition of Preventing Disease through Healthy Environments:

•    Updates the 2006 publication and presents the latest evidence on environment-disease links and their devastating impact on global health.
•    Systematically analyses and quantifies how different diseases are impacted by environmental risks, detailing the regions and populations most       vulnerable to environmentally mediated death, disease and injury.
•    Is exhaustive in its coverage. It examines the health impacts of environmental risks on more than 100 diseases and injuries. Some of these          environmental factors are well known, such as unsafe drinking-water and sanitation, and air pollution and indoor stoves; others less so, such      as climate change or the built environment.
•    Highlights promising areas for immediate intervention and gaps where further research is needed to establish the linkages and quantify the burden of disease for various environmental risk factors.

For more information, visit

International Institute for Sustainable Development

International Day of Forests Celebrates Forests and Water

Focusing on the multiple links between forests and water systems, the International Day of Forests was celebrated on March 21 around the globe. The Day aims to highlight the role of forests in supplying most of the world's accessible freshwater as well as building and strengthening resilience, especially to the impacts of climate change.

In his message, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon underlined that the world's forests are essential to realizing a shared vision for people and the planet, and central to the future prosperity and the stability of the global climate. He called on governments and partners to adopt holistic policies and practices to protect, restore, and sustain forests.

Seven key messages are being promoted to make the Day. They include:

•    Forested watersheds and wetlands supply 75% of the world's accessible freshwater for domestic, agricultural, industrial and ecological needs.
•    About one-third of the world's largest cities obtain a significant proportion of their drinking water directly from forested protected areas.
•    The water security of nearly 80% of the world's population is threatened.
•    Forests act as natural water filters.
•    Climate change is altering forests' role in regulating water flows and influencing the availability of water sources.
•    Improved water resource management can show considerable economic gains.
•    Forests have a crucial role in building and strengthening resilience.

In a statement marking the Day, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Braulio Dias noted that forests are crucial to the sustainable management of water ecosystems and resources, and that water is essential for the sustainability of forest ecosystems. Noting that the links are inseparable, he called for a greater understanding and appreciation of the value of forests and the ecosystem services they provide to enable decision makers to better assess the trade-offs associated with alternatives for land and water use.

Also for the Day, the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) highlighted that tropical forests provide crucial environmental services, and that there is strong evidence that sustainable forest management can protect water catchments, thereby helping to maintain downstream water quality, reducing flooding and sedimentation, and contributing to local livelihoods.

For more information, visit

Back to Top