Portal:Sustainable development/Selected biography

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Selected biographies list[edit]

Portal:Sustainable development/Selected biography/1

Muhammad Yunus, founder of wGrameen Bank

Dr. Muhammad Yunus (Bengali: মুহাম্মদ ইউনুস, pronounced Muhammôd Iunus) (born June 28, 1940) is a Bangladeshi banker and economist. He is famous for his successful application of the concept of microcredit, the extension of small loans to entrepreneurs too poor to qualify for traditional bank loans. Yunus is also the founder of Grameen Bank. In 2006, Yunus and the bank were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, "for their efforts to create economic and social development from below." Yunus himself has received several other international honors, including the ITU World Information Society Award, Ramon Magsaysay Award, the World Food Prize and the Sydney Peace Prize. He is the author of Banker to the Poor and a founding board member of Grameen Foundation. Yunus recently showed interest in launching a political party in Bangladesh, Nagorik Shakti (Citizen Power), but later discarded the plan. He is one of the founding members of Global Elders.


Portal:Sustainable development/Selected biography/2

Brundtland addressing the Congress of the Norwegian Labour Party, 2007.

Gro Harlem Brundtland (born April 20, 1939) is a Norwegian politician, diplomat, and physician, and an international leader in sustainable development and public health. She is a former Prime Minister of Norway, and has served as the Director General of the World Health Organization. She now serves as an Environmental Envoy of the United Nations.

Brundtland was Chair of the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), widely referred to as the Brundtland Commission, developing the broad political concept of sustainable development and published its report Our Common Future in April 1987. The Brundtland Commission provided the momentum for the 1992 Earth Summit / UNCED and for Agenda 21.

Brundtland was elected Director-General of the World Health Organization in May 1998. In this capacity, Brundtland adopted a far-reaching approach to public health, establishing a Commission on Macroeconomics and Health - chaired by Jeffrey Sachs - and addressing violence as a major public health issue.


Portal:Sustainable development/Selected biography/3

Jeffrey Sachs

Jeffrey David Sachs (born November 5, 1954, in Detroit, Michigan) is an American economist known for his work as an economic advisor to governments in Latin America, Eastern Europe, the former Yugoslavia, the former Soviet Union, Asia, and Africa. He is currently a professor and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. He is also Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. From 2002 to 2006, he was Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Director of the UN Millennium Project. He proposed shock therapy (though he himself hates the term) as a solution to the economic crises of Bolivia, Poland, and Russia. He is also known for his work with international agencies on problems of poverty reduction, debt cancellation, and disease control—especially HIV/AIDS, for the developing world. He is the only academic to have been repeatedly ranked among the world's most influential people by Time magazine. He has been appointed the 2007 lecturer for the BBC Reith Lectures.


Portal:Sustainable development/Selected biography/4

Dr. James E. Hansen

James E. Hansen (born March 29, 1941, in Denison, Iowa) heads the NASA Institute for Space Studies in New York City, a division of Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD, Earth Sciences Directorate. Dr. Hansen is an adjunct professor in the Earth and Environmental Sciences department at Columbia University. He is best known for his testimony on climate change to congressional committees in the 1980s that helped raise broad awareness of the global warming issue. He was a vocal critic of the George W. Bush administration's stance on climate change.

Hansen has focused on planetary research that involves trying to understand the climate change on earth that will result from anthropogenic changes of the atmospheric composition. One of his research interests is radiative transfer in planetary atmospheres, especially interpreting remote sounding of the earth's atmosphere and surface from satellites. Such data, appropriately analyzed, may provide one of the most effective ways to monitor and study global change on the earth. Dr. Hansen also is interested in the development and application of global numerical models for the purpose of understanding current climate trends and projecting humans' potential impacts on climate.


Portal:Sustainable development/Selected biography/5

Thomas Robert Malthus

Thomas Robert Malthus, FRS (13th February, 176629th December, 1834) was an English demographer and political economist. He is best known for his highly influential views on population growth. He was born to Daniel and Henrietta Malthus, the sixth of seven children. They were a prosperous family, his father being a personal friend of the philosopher David Hume and an acquaintance of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

Malthus' views were largely developed in reaction to the optimistic views of his father and his associates, notably Rousseau. Malthus's essay was also in response to the views of the Marquis de Condorcet. In An Essay on the Principle of Population, first published in 1798, Malthus made the famous prediction that population would outrun food supply, leading to a decrease in food per person. He even went so far as to specifically predict that this must occur by the middle of the 19th century, a prediction which failed for several reasons, including his use of static analysis, taking recent trends and projecting them indefinitely into the future, which often fails for complex systems.


Portal:Sustainable development/Selected biography/6

Rachel Carson

Rachel Louise Carson (May 27, 1907 — April 14, 1964) was an American marine biologist whose landmark book, Silent Spring, is often credited with having launched the global environmental movement. Silent Spring had an immense effect in the United States, where it spurred a reversal in national pesticide policy. The Rachel Carson Prize is awarded to women who have made a contribution in the field of environmental protection. She was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Starting in the mid-1940s, Carson became concerned about the use of newly invented pesticides, especially DDT. Silent Spring focused on the environment, and pesticides in particular. It was known as Carson's crusade, and she worked on this book till her death. Carson explored the subject of environmental connectedness: although a pesticide is aimed at eliminating one organism, its effects are felt throughout the food chain, and what was intended to poison an insect ends up poisoning larger animals and humans. Carson has been criticized by some conservatives, who argue that restrictions placed on DDT have caused needless malaria deaths.


Portal:Sustainable development/Selected biography/7
Ernst Friedrich "Fritz" Schumacher (16 August 1911 – 4 September 1977) was an internationally influential economic thinker with a professional background as a statistician and economist in Britain. He served as Chief Economic Advisor to the UK National Coal Board for two decades. He is best known for his critique of Western economies and his proposals for human-scale, decentralised and appropriate technologies. According to The Times Literary Supplement, his 1973 book Small Is Beautiful is among the 100 most influential books published since World War II.

Schumacher's basic development theories have been summed up in the catch-phrases Intermediate Size and Intermediate Technology. Schumacher's other notable work is the 1977 A Guide For The Perplexed, which is a critique of materialist scientism and an exploration of the nature and organisation of knowledge. Schumacher was a known friend of Professor Mansur Hoda, whom he had known for many years. He founded the Intermediate Technology Development Group (now Practical Action) in 1966.


Portal:Sustainable development/Selected biography/8 Dr. Akhtar Hameed Khan Sitara-e-Pakistan, Hilal-i-Imtiaz, Nishan-e-Imtiaz, (1914–1999) was a development activist and social scientist credited for pioneering microcredit and microfinance initiatives, farmers' cooperatives, and rural training programmes in the developing world. He also promoted rural development activities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and in other developing countries, and advocated community participation in development.

He is particularly known for his leading role in the establishment of a comprehensive project for rural development, Comilla Model (1959) that earned him Magsaysay Award from Philippines and honorary Doctorate of Law by Michigan State University. In 1980s he founded a bottom up community development initiative of Orangi Pilot Project in Karachi slums. He received wide international recognition and highest honours in Pakistan for these projects and a number of programs that were part of these projects, from microcredit to self-financed and from housing provision to family planning.


Portal:Sustainable development/Selected biography/9 Dr. John Keith Hatch (born November 7, 1940) is an American economic development expert and a pioneer in modern day microfinance. He is the founder of FINCA International and the Rural Development Services (RDS), and is famous for innovating village banking, arguably the world’s most widely-imitated microfinance methodology.

Founded in 1984, FINCA's purpose was to provide the poorest families, particularly those headed by single-mothers, with loans to finance self-employment activities capable of generating additional household income. FINCA currently operates village banking programs in 21 countries and since 1984 it has assisted over 700,000 families, lending over $340 million (in 2005) to the world's poorest families with a repayment rate of 97%, while also generating enough income to completely cover the operating costs of the field programs themselves.

Moreover, FINCA's methods have been imitated by at least 40 other nonprofit agencies, that have launched an additional 105 village banking programs that have collectively reached another 2 million families worldwide.


Portal:Sustainable development/Selected biography/10

Buckminster Fuller

Richard Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller (July 12, 1895 – July 1, 1983) was an American visionary, designer, architect, poet, author, and inventor.

Throughout his life, Fuller was concerned with the question "Does humanity have a chance to survive lastingly and successfully on planet Earth, and if so, how?" Considering himself an average individual without special monetary means or academic degree, he chose to devote his life to this question, trying to find out what an individual like him could do to improve humanity's condition that large organizations, governments, or private enterprises inherently could not do.

Pursuing this lifelong experiment, Fuller wrote twenty-eight books, coining and popularizing terms such as "spaceship earth", ephemeralization, and synergetics. He also worked in the development of numerous inventions, chiefly in the fields of design and architecture, the best known of which is the geodesic dome. Carbon molecules known as buckyballs were named for their resemblance to a geodesic sphere.


Portal:Sustainable development/Selected biography/11

Nobel Prize 2009-Press Conference KVA-30.jpg

Elinor Ostrom (August 7, 1933 – June 12, 2012), an American political economist, was awarded the 2009 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel for "her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons". She was the first, and to date, the only woman to win the prize in this category.

In 1973, she co-founded the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University. Examining the use of collective action, trust, and cooperation in the management of common pool resources, her approach to public policy, known as the institutional analysis and development (IAD) framework, has been considered sufficiently distinct to be thought of as a separate school of public choice theory.

Her most famous research focuses on how humans interact with ecosystems to maintain long-term sustainable resource yields. She conducted her field studies on the management of pasture by locals in Africa and irrigation systems management in villages of western Nepal. Her work has considered how societies have developed diverse institutional arrangements for managing natural resources and avoiding ecosystem collapse in many cases, even though some arrangements have failed to prevent resource exhaustion. Her work emphasized the multifaceted nature of human–ecosystem interaction and argues against any singular "panacea" for individual social-ecological system problems.


Portal:Sustainable development/Selected biography/12

Wangari Maathai.jpg

Wangari Muta Maathai (1 April 1940 – 25 September 2011) was a Kenyan environmental and political activist. Educated at the University of Pittsburgh and University of Nairobi, in Kenya in the 1970s Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental non-governmental organization focused on the planting of trees, environmental conservation and women's rights. In 1986, she was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, and in 2004 became the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, for "her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace." Maathai was an elected member of Kenya's National Assembly and served as Assistant Minister for Environment and Natural Resources in the government of President Mwai Kibaki from 2003 through 2005. She was an Honorary Councillor of the World Future Council.


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Nominations[edit]

Feel free to add top or high importance Sustainable development-related biographies to the above list. Other Sustainable development-related biographies may be nominated here.