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Eric Roston and James Gustave Speth

James Gustave (Gus) Speth (born March 4, 1942) is a United States environmental lawyer and advocate.


He was born in Orangeburg, South Carolina in 1942. He graduated summa cum laude from Yale University in 1964, attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and graduated from Yale Law School, where he was a member of the Yale Law Journal, in 1969. He served in 1969 and 1970 as a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo L. Black.

Speth was a co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council, where he served as senior attorney from 1970 to 1977.

He served from 1977 to 1981, as a Member and then for two years as Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality in the Executive Office of the President. As Jimmy Carter's Council on Environmental Quality Chairman, he was a principal adviser on matters affecting the environment and had overall responsibility for developing and coordinating the President's environmental program. In 1981 and 1982 he was Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center, teaching environmental and constitutional law.

In 1982, he founded the World Resources Institute,[1] a Washington, D.C.-based environmental think tank; served as its president until January 1993. He was a senior adviser to President-elect Bill Clinton's transition team, heading the group that examined the U.S.'s role in natural resources, energy and the environment.

In 1991, he chaired a U.S. task force on international development and environmental security which produced the report Partnership for Sustainable Development: A New U.S. Agenda.

In 1990 he led the Western Hemisphere Dialogue on Environment and Development which produced the report Compact for a New World.

From 1993 to 1999, he served as Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme; he served as Special Coordinator for Economic and Social Affairs under Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and also served as Chair of the United Nations Development Group.[2]

In 1999, he became the dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. He served the school as the Carl W. Knobloch, Jr. Dean and Sara Shallenberger Brown Professor in the Practice of Environmental Policy when he retired from Yale in 2009 to assume a professorship at Vermont Law School in South Royalton, Vermont.[3] Speth was succeeded as Dean at Yale by Sir Peter Crane.[4]

In 2014 he published his memoir Angels by the River. In that year he was also board member of the New Economy Coalition.[5]

Environment work[edit]

Speth has been a leader or participant in many task forces and committees aimed at combating environmental degradation, including the President’s Task Force on Global Resources and Environment; the Western Hemisphere Dialogue on Environment and Development; and the National Commission on the Environment.[citation needed]


Among his awards are the National Wildlife Federation’s Resources Defense Award, the Natural Resources Council of America’s Barbara Swain Award of Honor, a 1997 Special Recognition Award from the Society for International Development, the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Environmental Law Institute, and the Blue Planet Prize. He holds honorary degrees from Clark University, the College of the Atlantic, Vermont Law School, and Middlebury College.




  • Beyond Reform Our Planet Magazine PDF
  • America the Possible: A Manifesto, From decline to rebirth link
  • America the Possible: A Manifesto, A new politics for a new dream link


  1. ^ World Resources Institute Biosketch of James Gustave Speth. Reuters. Retrieved March 27, 2012.
  2. ^ "Who we are & What we do". United Nations Development Programme. 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-24. 
  3. ^ "F&ES unearths new dean". Yale Daily News. Archived from the original on 2009-03-08. Retrieved 2009-03-05. 
  4. ^ "Sir Peter Crane Appointed Dean of Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies". Yale Daily News. 2009-03-04. Archived from the original on 2011-07-24. Retrieved 2011-08-24. 
  5. ^ "About the Author". Retrieved 8 February 2015. 

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Charles Warren
Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality
Succeeded by
Alan Hill
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
William Henry Draper III
Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme
Succeeded by
Mark Malloch Brown

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Gustave_Speth — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.

186 news items

Seeking Alpha
Tue, 23 Oct 2012 08:42:20 -0700

Author James Gustave Speth is one of the most prominent, knowledgeable, global environmentalists of our time. A quintessential insider, Speth began as an anti-nuclear activist in the 1970s and later chaired President Jimmy Carter's Council on ...
Huffington Post
Mon, 30 Sep 2013 12:22:42 -0700

Not much in our society is more faithfully followed than economic growth. Its movements are constantly monitored, measured to the decimal place, deplored or praised, diagnosed as weak or judged healthy and vigorous. Newspapers, magazines, and cable ...

Huffington Post

Huffington Post
Wed, 01 Apr 2015 13:15:00 -0700

Gar Alperovitz and James Gustave Speth are Co-Chairs of The Next System Project, an initiative launched this week aimed at catalyzing bold new systemic thinking about systemic challenges. You can endorse their call for a serious national conversation ...

Scientific American

Scientific American
Mon, 16 Nov 2015 21:00:31 -0800

American rejection of climate action is based on suspicion of big government, often expressed as a threat to freedom. Free markets will not solve climate change by themselves; they have failed to account for the damage done by carbon emissions to ...
Fri, 02 Mar 2012 00:01:55 -0800

James Gustave Speth teaches at Vermont Law School. He is an American environmental lawyer, advocate, and author. His article in this issue, the first of a two-part series, is based on his forthcoming book from Yale University Press, America the ...

Al Jazeera America

Al Jazeera America
Sun, 20 Sep 2015 23:02:58 -0700

Two men in their 70s have been addressing massive crowds and sparking the imagination and passions of American progressives. Both have been featured on the cover of Time magazine. On a first look, however, they couldn't be more different. One is a ...

Pacific Standard

Pacific Standard
Fri, 09 Jan 2015 14:11:41 -0800

Environmental pioneer James Gustave Speth says the fights for democracy and nature should join forces. Avatar: Author: Brian Palmer; Publish date: Jan 9, 2015; Social count: 16. Environmental pioneer James Gustave Speth says the fights for democracy ...

Al Jazeera America

Al Jazeera America
Wed, 21 Oct 2015 23:05:36 -0700

Sen. Bernie Sanders' public defense of socialism in the Oct. 13 Democratic presidential debate has kicked off America's first major discussion of the idea in more than a generation. Columnists, talk show hosts and Donald Trump have all joined in. Most ...

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