University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
Global Landscapes Initiative

New study links pollination-dependence with areas of malnutrition

September 17, 2014Emily DombeckGLI PublicationComments Off
Bee on Almond Flower

“harvest” by mhobl, used under CC BY / cropped from original

Did you know that pollinators contribute up to an estimated 8% of global food production, which translates to almost $200 billion in economic impact? But pollination provides benefits beyond just the economic. Many crops that are dependent upon pollinators are also high in micronutrients essential for human health. Researchers at the Natural Capital Project and the Global Landscapes Initiative collaborated on a study released today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B which highlights the overlaps between pollinator-dependent micronutrient production and areas of human malnutrition.

More information can be found in the press release on Stanford University’s website. The paper can be found at the Proceedings website here (paywall; purchase or institutional access required).

Leverage points: targeted efforts could feed billions

July 17, 2014Emily DombeckFeatured, GLI PublicationComments Off

Leverage Points

Researchers in the Global Landscapes Initiative have proposed a set of key actions that they say could boost our ability to meet the food needs of billions more while reducing the negative environmental impacts of agriculture.

The study highlights “leverage points” in three key areas–increasing yields on existing farmland, using nutrients and water more efficiently, and using crops more efficiently.  According to lead author Paul West, “By pointing out specifically what we can do and where, it gives funders and policy makers the information they need to target their activities for the greatest good.”

More information and a link to the paper can be found at the Institute on the Environment.

Jonathan Foley to become executive director of the California Academy of Sciences

April 30, 2014Emily DombeckNews + NotesComments Off

Announcement: Jonathan Foley to become executive director of the California Academy of Sciences

Jonathan Foley will be departing the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment this summer to become executive director of the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.

Foley’s last day at the University of Minnesota will be August 15, 2014.

Under Foley’s leadership, the Institute on the Environment has become one of the pre-eminent environmental research institutions in the country and influenced global thinking around such topics as increasing food production while reducing environmental impacts, the economics of natural systems, planetary boundaries, pathways to increasing renewable energy and much more.

Foley has also led the charge to bring together faculty and researchers from across the University of Minnesota, engage hundreds of external partners, leverage tens of millions of dollars in funding support, and perhaps most importantly, inspire and engage the next generation of environmental leaders through an array of classes, workshops and social entrepreneurship experiences.

“It has been an extraordinary privilege to serve as the director of the Institute on the Environment for the past six years and to work with this amazing community of students, staff and faculty drawn from across the University,” said Foley.  “Helping to launch the Institute has been the highlight of my career, and I am very proud of what this community has already accomplished.  I am looking forward to seeing what new, amazing things the Institute will do in the years ahead.  One thing is certain: the University of Minnesota will continue be a global leader in finding solutions to our most pressing environmental problems, and inspiring the next generation of leadership to tackle them.”

University of Minnesota senior leadership thanks Foley for his years of service to the University and is committed to seeing the Institute’s impact and stature continue to grow in future years.

“Jon is a champion of the environment and he has made a significant impact on addressing our most serious global environmental challenges,” said Brian Herman, vice president for research at the University of Minnesota. “His cutting-edge work and research, along with his ability to forge new partnerships, grow and mentor talent in this field, and think outside of the box has helped establish a strong foundation from which the IonE and University can continue to build. Our goal to transform Minnesota’s research enterprise so that we can better address the world’s most pressing challenges requires work and engagement like that accomplished at IonE, and the University remains committed in its support of the Institute. We thankJon for his leadership and his many contributions to the environment.”

Bringing together leading academics and researchers with environmental visionaries across academic, nonprofit, government and business sectors, the Institute on the Environment has been — and will continue to be — at the forefront of discovering solutions and advancing knowledge in areas such as global food security, valuing natural capital, clean energy, social entrepreneurship, water resources and environmental communications.

The Institute on the Environment is well positioned to continue its upward trajectory as a premiere environmental research and engagement institute focused on solving our planet’s grand challenges. New initiatives being launched — such as the Energy Transition Lab and the Planetary Strategies Lab — will only help to bolster this position.

Further details on this leadership transition and the search for the Institute’s new director will be announced in the weeks ahead.

“Dear food…” New issue brief on food loss and waste

April 21, 2014Emily DombeckFeatured, GLI PublicationComments Off

Uncomfortable fact: humans waste 1/2 of all vegetables, fruits, seafood, and 1/3 of all grains.  These findings and more are highlighted in a new issue brief penned by GLI graduate student Alex Reich and director Jon Foley for the Food Policy Research Center.  Along with the brief, there is an accompanying YouTube video produced by the team at MinuteEarth, which gives a sobering yet hopeful overview of the state of global food waste.

Issue brief: Food Loss and Waste in the US: The Science Behind the Supply Chain
YouTube video: Love Letter to Food


Future of Food: GLI/IonE nabs cover of National Geographic!

Jonathan Foley’s article, “A Five-Step Plan to Feed the World,” was released online in National Geographic this week, with print edition arriving in mailboxes and on newsstands soon.

©2014 National Geographic 

©2014 National Geographic

The May issue of the magazine (pictured above) kicks off an eight-month series on food.  Content from the magazine as well as online-exclusive extras will be aggregated at the new website

The Global Landscapes Initiative is administered by the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment.

Research support to the Global Landscapes Initiative is primarily provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Institute on the Environment. A comprehensive list of additional research support can be found here. Funders have no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of any manuscript.