Lester Brown is founder and actual president of the Earth Policy Institute, a non-profit environmental organization based in Washington that seeks to push forward green economy. He has been named in the world press as “one of the most influential personalities of the world” by the Washington Post and as “the guru of the environmental movement” by the Calcuta Telegraph.
Brown, a son of farmers, was born on March 28th 1934 in Bridgeton, a small city in the county of Cumberland in the state of New Jersey, USA. Since his early childhood he had a direct and really close relation to agriculture. He was a tomato farmer in south New Jersey during high school. After his graduation in agronomy at Rugrats University in 1955 he travelled to India where he joined an international exchange program with Indian farmers. There, for the first time, he witnessed the effects of overpopulation, poverty, hunger and environmental catastrophes. The six months in India were key for Lester Brown and his affinity to topics like food security and population.
In 1959 Brown obtained his master in Agricultural Economics from the University of Maryland and in 1962 his master in Public Administration from the University of Harvard with the goal to work in topics like food security. In 1964 he was Secretary of Agriculture of the USA. Because of his impeccable work he got awarded with the Arthur S. Fleming prize and in 1966 he was named Administrator of the International Service of Agricultural Development. In 1969 he abandoned the government in order to support the creation of the Council of Development of Ultramar.
In 1974 he founded the institute WorldWatch, the first of its kind that was dedicated to dealing with global environmental problems. Some of his most important achievements within this organization were the creation of the magazine World Watch in January 1988 and his collaboration with the publication of the State of the World Reports, in 1984, which is a report that deals with annually chosen topics about sustainability, including human development, climate change, world security, consume and agricultural innovation. The WorldWatch Institute became one of the principle think tanks dealing with environmental themes and an important library for governments and the public providing information on environmental issues. After 27 years of hard work with this institute Brown withdrew from the WorldWatch in order to found the actual Earth Policy Institute dedicated to the diffusion of ideas that contribute to the construction of a sustainable green economy also known as Eco-Economy by the EPI.
Throughout his professional career Brown has received various awards. In 1987 he received the award for the environment by the United Nations, the gold medal from the World Wide Fund for Nature and the Blue Planet Award from Japan in 1994, for his “exceptional contribution to resolve global environmental issues”.
He has been honored with 25 honorary PhDs in 1986; he was awarded a grant (scholarship) of 250.000$ by the MacArthur Foundation. In the same year the US Congress Library asked for some of his personal writings to add to their archives, since the congress considered his influences to have pushed “to hardly think about the issues of population and resources”. Former US President Bill Clinton assures that: ”Lester Brown tells us how to build a fairer world and how to save the planet from climate change with in a futuristic and practical manner. We should all follow his advice”.
Brown is author and coauthor of more than 50 books, which have been translated into more than 42 languages, including Spanish. His most recent publications are Full Planet, Empty Plates (2012) which deals with the food crisis we are facing and his autobiography Breaking New Ground. Some of his most important publications are Plan B 2.0: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble(2006), Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to save Civilization (2009) and Man, Land and Food his first book published in 1963.
Currently in addition to his presidency at the Earth Policy Institute he participates actively in several well-known organizations worldwide. He is a member of Eco Watch’s Advisory Council, honoree member of the Rumanian Science Academy, Member of the Advisory Council of the Global Foodprint Network, Honoree Adviser of the Environmental Culture Institute of Japan, between others.
His legacy has been an example for many thinkers and his contributions to food security, depletion of resources and climate change have been of great importance for the development of new directions in environmentally sustainable management.