Worldwatch Institute

Founding Year: 1974

Staff: 23

Budget: 1600000

Lester R. Brown (Founder)

It offers an abundant amount of fact-based analysis and publications on critical global issues. The organization had a mission “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, a transformation of cultures from consumerism to sustainability, and an early end to population growth through healthy and intentional childbearing. 

The institute was wound up in 2017, after the publication of its last State of the World Report. was unreachable from mid-2019. A Twitter feed remains as of 2021.


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.

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.”

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Worldwatch Institute contributes to the following Sustainable Development Goals

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
    Calls for an end to poverty globally by 2030 and promotes increased access to basic services and social protection.
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  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
    Aims to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
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  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well Being
    Aims to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, by reducing mortality rates and increasing access to equitable health care for men and women.
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  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
    Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
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  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
    Aims to end gender discrimination in all forms and promote equal opportunity for all women and girls in terms of education, career, and sexual/reproductive rights.
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  • SDG 6 -Clean Water and Sanitisation
    Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by promoting global access to adequate sanitation and hygiene.
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  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
    Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by promoting affordable and reliable energy sources.
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  • SDG 8 -Decent Work and Economic Growth
    Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
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  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
    Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.  
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  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
    Aims to achieve economic growth by reducing inequalities regarding social, economic and political opportunities and freedoms.
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  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
    Aims to promote the globalization of sustainable cities and communities in turn providing universal safe and affordable housing.
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  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
    Aims to create responsible and sustainable practices involving consumption and production through efficiently using natural resources.
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  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
    Calls to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts through global awareness, education, and integration into government policies.
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  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
    Calls to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development and prevent and reduce marine pollution in order to protect ecosystems and achieve healthy oceans.
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  • SDG 15 - Life on Land
    Aims to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.
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  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
    Aims to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. Calls to reduce all forms of violence and deaths related to violence and to end abuse and exploitation
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  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals
    Aims to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development by mobilizing domestic resources in order to provide support for developing countries.
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