Harvard Receives $200 Million Gift For New Climate Institute

Harvard University announced yesterday that it had received a $200 million gift from Melanie and Jean Eric Salata, which it will use to establish the Salata Institute for Climate and Sustainability, providing a campus hub for multidisciplinary research and education about climate and the environment.

Plans call for the new institute to begin operations in fall 2022, under the leadership of Harvard’s Vice Provost for Climate and Sustainability Jim Stock. According to the Harvard Gazette, the institutes mission will be “to develop and promote durable, effective, and equitable solutions to the climate-change challenges confronting humanity.”

“The Salata Institute for Climate and Sustainability at Harvard represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to tackle the climate crisis by leveraging and unifying Harvard’s strengths. It will draw together expertise from across the University in ways we’ve only just begun to imagine,” said President Larry Bacow in the university’s announcement. “Melanie and Jean’s extraordinary generosity is matched only by their passionate belief that the time is now for bold action that engages the public. We are grateful beyond measure for their vision and for their support as we undertake critical work on behalf of humanity — and for the sake of our planet.”

“Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time. It is a crisis whose impact will affect our children and many generations to come, and we have a responsibility to them to do everything we can to address it,” the Salatas said. “Through initiatives like the one we are announcing today, and many others like it globally, we can harness the power of the world’s best researchers and most talented policy and business leaders to create a more sustainable future for all of us.”

The Salata Institute will provide support for researchers studying climate, environmental sustainability, and specific topics such as the use of low- and zero-carbon energy. It also aims to educate Harvard students to become leaders in the field of climate change and environmental challenges.

One of its first research initiatives will be a Climate Research Clusters Program, which, according to the Gazette, “will develop multidisciplinary collaborations with real-world potential for change.” The first round is already underway, with 41 concept proposals submitted by Harvard researchers. Final selection of projects to be funded is scheduled for this fall.

The Institute will also fund small grants for researchers who are not currently studying climate but want to begin to investigate issues in that area, as well as for faculty who are working on climate and want to begin new projects. The Institute is expected to stimulate cr0ss-campus collaboration on climate crisis research, education and outreach.

Alan Garber, Harvard’s Provost, said. “We cannot solve the climate crisis on our own, but we expect our educational and research efforts to produce deep and lasting contributions to the broader effort, in which universities will play leading roles. Harvard can do nothing less than set the example for effective leadership in addressing all aspects of climate change. This gift will enable us to do so.”

Other initiatives of the Salata Institute will be to develop new climate-related courses and expand student internships and research opportunities. With its new Institute, Harvard joins two other universities – Stanford University and the University of Hawaii, where major gifts have recently been received to establish centers for climate studies.

Jean Salata is a Chilean citizen, with a net worth of $5.4 billion, according to Forbes. He is the chief executive and founding partner of Baring Private Equity Asia. In March 2022, Baring announced it was being acquired by Sweden’s investment firm EQT for $7.5 billion, a deal expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2022.

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