Rockefeller Archive Center

Rockefeller Archive Center Research Reports are created by recipients of research travel stipends and by many others who have conducted research at the RAC. The reports demonstrate the breadth of the RAC's archival holdings, particularly in the study of philanthropy and its effects. Read more about the history of philanthropy at Also, see the RAC Bibliography of Scholarship, a comprehensive online database of publications citing RAC archival collections.
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A History of Climate Action through Foundations’ Archives

May 29, 2018

After two years of intensive negotiations, 156 countries signed a Framework Convention on Climate Change at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), convened in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992. Bert Bolin, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) from 1988 to 1997, believed that it would not have happened if a "well-organized and scientifically credible assessment had not been available in 1990." In turn, the IPCC assessment was possible "only because assessments initiated by the US National Academy of Sciences and the international scientific community had begun a decade earlier." As stated by Bolin, "the emergence of the climate change issue was primarily scientifically driven." But how did the issue move from the realm of science to the realm of politics? Who were the agents of this process? A series of documents produced by scientists, NGO and foundation officers, preserved in archival collections at the Rockefeller Archive Center, provides previously unexplored information about how the climate change issue broke onto the international policy making agenda in the 1980s.

Ecology and Environment; Ford Foundation; Global; Rockefeller Brothers Fund; Rockefeller Foundation

Watershed Moments: An Environmental History of the New York City Water Supply

January 1, 2009

Watershed Moments highlights changes in democratic governance and environmental policy in twentieth-century America by exploring the development and elaboration of New York City's water supply network. Unlike most historical treatments of municipal water supply, this study emphasizes water management over system construction. Placing issues of management at the center of the narrative reveals the transformations in City water policy and the growing trend toward resource cooperation that marked the final decades of the twentieth century. Sociologists and political scientists have recognized the increasing tendency toward consensus on thorny environmental conflicts in the 1990s, but they have not probed the historical forces behind this transformation. This study fills this important gap in the literature though a careful analysis of the country's most extensive water supply network.

Ecology and Environment; Rockefeller Family; Urban and Suburban

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