Worldwatch Institute (1974; Washington; 23 staff;

This independent research institute offers an abundant amount of fact-based analysis and publications on critical global issues. Their mission is “to accelerate the transition to a sustainable world that meets human needs” through universal access to renewable energy and nutritious food, expansion of environmentally sound jobs and development, transformation of cultures from consumerism to sustainability, and an early end to population growth through healthy and intentional childbearing.  Their work focuses on building a Low-Carbon Energy System, nourishing the planet, and transforming economies, cultures, and societies to sustainability.


  • Climate & Energy – building a low-carbon future
    • Sustainable Energy Roadmaps – Providing realistic and practicable avenues toward sustainable energy in the Caribbean and Central America.
    • Supporting Low Emissions Development Strategies in the Energy Sector – Sustainable energy solutions and assisting countries in crafting successful climate-resilient development strategies.
  • Food & Agriculture – nourishing the planet
    • Regenerative Animal Farming – Evaluating environmentally sustainable solutions to reduce hunger and global poverty.
  • Environment & Society – transforming economies, cultures, and societies


  • Annual reports
  • A library of ~30 books, case studies, toolkits, etc.
  • A library of 200+ reports, roadmaps, studies, assessments, etc.
  • Known for its annual “Vital Signs” books (vol. 22 by 01/2019, ~150p.). They monitor relevant indicators and trends signifying human impact and the health of the ecosystem. Meat and seafood production and consumption, agriculture, changes in the climate, energy production, infrastructure, transportation, economy and resources, population and society.
  • Vital Signs Online, a subscription service, offers timely electronic access to the trends contained within Vital Signs, as well as presentation-ready charts and data spreadsheets. It’s an interactive tool that provides hard data and research-based insights on the sustainability trends that are shaping our future.
  • HIGHLIGHT: Annual “State of the World” reports, translated into 15 languages. “SOTW” assembles a wide range of well-edited, leading-edge thinking on sustainability topics:
    • SOTW2017: EarthEd (392p.) – A diverse group of education experts share innovative approaches to teaching and learning in a new era. Topics include systems thinking for kids, the importance of play in early education, social emotional learning, comprehensive sexuality education, indigenous knowledge, sustainable business, medical training to treat the whole person, teaching law in the Anthropocene, etc.
    • SOTW2016: Can a City Be Sustainable? (448 p.) – Experts from around the globe examine the core principles of sustainable urbanism and profile cities that are putting them into practice. Chapters include: cities as cultural spaces, sustainable cities, cities as complex systems, cities and greenhouse gas emissions, the role of energy efficiency in buildings, energy democracy, etc.
    • SOTW2015: Confronting Hidden Threats to Sustainability (165p.) – On stranded assets, migration, agricultural resources, ocean resilience, Arctic sustainability, emerging diseases from animals, food insecurity, financial assets drained of value by environmental damage, a rapid rise in diseases of animal origin, etc.
    • SOTW2014: Governing for Sustainability (294p.) – Chapters on today’s failing governance, sustainability and evolution, ecoliteracy, living in the Anthropocene, listening to young and future generations, understanding the failure to pass US climate legislation, China’s environmental governance challenge, the role of local governments and corporations, making finance serve the real economy, climate governance and the resource curse, and energy democracy.
    • SOTW2013: Is Sustainability Still Possible? (441p.) – Has chapters on respecting planetary boundaries, defining a safe and just space for humanity, one-planet living, sustaining freshwater, conserving nonrenewable resources, re-engineering cultures, building a sustainable and desirable economy, transforming corporations, assessing energy alternatives, building political strategies, and promises and perils of geoengineering.
    • SOTW2012: Moving Toward Sustainable Prosperity (241p.) – Includes chapters on nine strategies to stop world population growth short of 9 billion, “degrowth” in overdeveloped countries, making the Green Economy work for everyone, sustainable transport and urban development, a new global architecture for governing sustainability, food security, protecting biodiversity, sustainable buildings, etc.
    • SOTW2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet (237p.) – Discusses a new path to ending hunger, moving eco-agriculture into the mainstream, getting more crops per drop of water, local food biodiversity, investing in trees to mitigate climate change, reducing post-harvest losses, and investing in Africa’s land.

Leadership: Ed Groark (Acting Interim President), Lester R. Brown (Founder)
Budget: ~$1.6m (2015)
Note: Worldwatch was founded by Lester R. Brown, who served as president for 26 years until 2001, when he founded the smaller (and more manageable) Earth Policy Institute to focus on a plan for “saving civilization.” Notably, Worldwatch remains one of the few organizations still concerned about stemming world population growth (e.g. see SOTW2012), a topic of widespread concern several decades ago, when world population was roughly half the size of its present 7.3 billion. (MM)