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Making NYC a Leader in Equitable Climate Action

The effects of climate change, like those of COVID-19, present an enormous threat to public health—particularly in historically underserved communities. But just as the ongoing pandemic has underscored this uneven vulnerability, it has also highlighted an opportunity: to equitably address the city’s and world’s most urgent issues.

The Need for Equitable Climate Action

As climate change has emerged as one of the city’s and world’s greatest threats, the need for a center that brings together climate science, policy, communication, and advocacy under one roof has become clear. And, as the city recovers from COVID-19, strategic equitable job creation and long-term resiliency efforts for communities across the city are critical.

Leveraging a unique waterfront and building upon the island’s existing environment of climate action, the center would concentrate research and innovation, testing and development, and education and public engagement around climate solutions in a single physical hub.

Center for Climate Solutions on Governors Island

A center for climate solutions on Governors Island would be a global leader in climate science innovation. Leveraging a unique waterfront and building upon the island’s existing environment of climate action, the center would concentrate research and innovation, testing and development, and education and public engagement around climate solutions in a single physical hub. The center would convene a multi-disciplinary community of researchers, educators, advocates, innovators, and policymakers devoted to addressing the global climate crisis. In total, the center could create 8,000 direct jobs.

Center for Climate Solutions on Governors Island
Illustrative visions by WXY architecture + urban design/bloomimages

A climate center on Governors Island could include:

  • An academic or research anchor institution to study the impacts of climate change to advance related fields
  • A living laboratory and/or a public space for art and cultural uses that invites conversations on the environment
  • Space for commercial innovation and technological research in the climate field
  • Space for policy, advocacy, and programming to engage with the island’s nearly 1 million annual visitors
  • Opportunities to engage leading health institutions to research and develop practical solutions for addressing climate change’s impact on public health due to extreme heat, air quality, and storms

What’s Next

In the coming months, the Trust for Governors Island will work with stakeholders, advocates, local elected officials, agencies, and New Yorkers to help bring the vision to life through a proposed rezoning of the South Island. The rezoning would extend uses allowed in the North Island to the South Island, including academic, commercial, nonprofit, cultural, convening, and hospitality facilities. A solicitation targeting an academic or research anchor institution will be released in 2021.

While pursuing this longer-term planning and vision, the Trust will begin to grow its community of tenants working in climate by releasing an RFP to transform a historic building on Governors Island into a multi-tenant hub for green tech businesses, entrepreneurs and environmental non-profits.

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