Mission and Vision


Mission and Vision

Our mission is to deepen understanding of how climate affects human sustainability by accelerating innovative climate research at Columbia University and providing expert analysis on climate impacts and solutions.

We carry out our mission by:

  • Funding high-risk, high-reward research that helps society understand and generate solutions to climate change.
  • Building partnerships with private and public sector entities to apply new climate knowledge for the benefit of humanity.
  • Providing insight into the emerging knowledge and technologies that shape the understanding of climate impacts and solutions.
  • Supporting and training the next generation of Earth scientists.

Our Origins

We are a research and education initiative at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Founded in 2016 by climate scientist Peter de Menocal, we foster new studies and collaborations led by expert scientists at Lamont, the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Through cutting-edge science, original perspectives, and global reach, we accelerate the vital knowledge needed to understand how the Earth systems that sustain us will respond to climate change today and in the years ahead.

Our Approach

The challenges and opportunities presented by climate change require creative and robust interdisciplinary approaches—and new ways of funding science. As federal support for science plateaus, initiatives like ours are stepping in to further critical climate research.

Our work engages private philanthropy and forms strategic partnerships to connect thought leaders and make annual grants to scientists whose bold ideas have the potential to advance climate science in five areas: food, water, shelter, energy, and ocean health.

This emerging, actionable knowledge is transferred to the public and private sectors to facilitate sustainable business decisions and understanding of climate issues.

Affiliated scientists also provide expert analysis and innovative thinking on the emerging knowledge and technologies that shape our understanding of climate impacts and the search for solutions. 

We also support education and outreach initiatives, fieldwork and other research needs, and conferences that foster collaboration and spark ideas for projects among scientists and others working on climate issues.

Our Impact

We move climate science forward by investing in critical research initiatives that communicate our findings to a broad audience. As a result, society better understands the impacts of climate change and can apply this new knowledge to the social and business sectors.

Accelerating Discovery: Our unique model mobilizes philanthropic support to advance research, drive discovery, and engage stakeholders and business leaders. This work is led by the 14 scientists in our Fellows Program, our flagship initiative that supports transformative research by 120 Columbia University climate, ocean, and life scientists.

Multiplying Investments: We’ve invested $4 million in new research since our founding in 2016. The resulting discoveries have attracted $32.5 million in new federal and private research funding—a seven-fold return on investment.

Understanding Climate Risk: We further research that increases understanding of the physical, economic, and societal risks associated with climate change. We help decision-makers use this knowledge to mitigate risk, find opportunities, and build climate resilience.

Focusing on Solutions: Our partnerships with the private sector provide vital funding for climate research. Partnerships enable our scientists to share their new knowledge with stakeholders in industry, finance, and all levels of government.

Our funding initiatives also ensure that Columbia remains at the forefront of climate science, and continues to attract and retain the best talent.

See our 2018-2020 Biennial Report to learn more.