Session 1:  Eradicating Poverty as the Poor Population Expands
Population growth in poor countries is accelerating faster than in rich countries. Most estimates suggest the world’s total population will flatten out at around 9 billion and of that, 3 billion will be living in poverty.  Currently, half of the world’s population lives in urban regions and by 2030 this number will increase to 60 percent. What are the strategies to shelter, feed, and sustain a planet with 9 billion people and improve the lives of the poor?

Session 2:  Addressing Areas of Conflict in Our Changing World
Several regions in Africa are already spiraling out of control under chaotic regimes and civil unrest. Projections suggest that climate change will cause these and other marginal regions that struggle to maintain their agricultural livelihoods to become unstable leading to large-scale forced migrations. Environmental stresses caused by droughts that lead to water and food scarcity have been implicated as the main triggers in the Darfur conflict. In other regions, unequal distribution of benefits from natural resources may also serve as a catalyst to conflict. How can we anticipate what parts of the world are likely to experience environmentally-driven or resource-driven conflicts and find preventative solutions?

Session 3:  Identifying Energy Solutions for Sustainable Development

Sponsored by the
Columbia Business School Energy Club
School of International and Public Affairs Energy Association

To sustain economic growth, especially in developing countries, people need affordable, accessible and abundant energy. Sustainable development demands that production and use of energy be efficient and compatible while preserving the environment and protecting against detrimental climate change. What are the energy options that can assist poor nations to accelerate growth while helping the entire planet chart a path to a sustainable future?

Session 4:  Responding to Accelerated Environmental Change in the Arctic

Sponsored by the

Royal Norwegian Consulate General

Recent observations have revealed that the Arctic is undergoing rapid environmental change. The observed changes are interlinked and of pan-Arctic scale. They affect the physical, geochemical, and biological systems, and have significant impact on society. While the full scope of the changes including a rapidly decreasing sea-ice cover, melting permafrost, and increased melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet are still being studied, attention is shifting towards solutions to the problems caused by widespread and rapid Arctic environmental change.  What are the problems associated with these environmental changes? What are the solutions to deal with these problems? What actions have already taken place in response to these observed changes?

Special Evening Event - Thursday, March 27th 

The Economist Debates: The United States and Climate Change
Proposition:  "The United States will solve the climate change problem."

The United States of America is the world's largest consumer of oil and it's largest producer of greenhouse gases. Despite broad international consensus, Th United States has refused to adopt serious domestic emissions-control measures or to support international efforts to curb climate change. Will this stance continue after George Bush leaves office? Will the United States continue to be part of the problem rather than part of the solution? Or will technological innovation and entrepreneurship change the dynamics of this issue? Join Vijay Vaitheeswaran, Global Correspondent for The Economist, and leading experts in the field for an Oxford-style debate on taking leadership to address climate change.


State of the Planet 2008 is a carbon neutral event. Working with, a leader in the voluntary carbon offset market, The Earth Institute at Columbia University and The Economist have invested in renewable energy and energy efficiency, making this event 100% CarbonfreeTM. Learn more at

The Economist Logo