Harvard receives $200 million donation for new climate institute

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Harvard University announced yesterday that it has 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 center for multidisciplinary research and education on climate and the environment.

Plans call for the new institute to begin operations in the fall of 2022, under the leadership of Harvard’s vice provost for climate and Jim Sustainability Stock. According to Harvard Gazettee, the mission of the institute will be “to develop and promote sustainable, effective and equitable solutions to the challenges of climate change facing humanity”.

“The Salata Institute for Climate and Sustainability at Harvard represents a unique opportunity to tackle the climate crisis by leveraging and unifying Harvard’s strengths. It will bring together expertise from across the University in ways we are only just beginning to imagine,” President Larry Bacow said in the university’s announcement. “Mélanie and Jean’s extraordinary generosity is matched only by their passionate belief that now is the time to act boldly and engage 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 good of our planet.

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

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

One of its first research initiatives will be a program of climate research clusters which, according to the Gazette, “will develop multidisciplinary collaborations with potential for real-world change.” The first round is already underway, with 41 concept proposals submitted by Harvard researchers. The 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 start investigating questions in this field, as well as for professors who are working on climate and want to start new projects. The Institute is expected to stimulate cross-campus collaboration on research, education, and outreach on the climate crisis.

Harvard provost Alan Garber said. “We cannot solve the climate crisis alone, but we expect our education and research efforts to make deep and lasting contributions to the larger effort, in which universities will play a leading role. Harvard can do nothing less than exemplify effective leadership in addressing all aspects of climate change, and this donation will enable us to do just that.

Other Salata Institute initiatives will include developing new climate-related courses and expanding student internships and research opportunities. With its new institute, Harvard joins two other universities – Stanford University and the University of Hawaii, where large donations 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 TSWT. He is Managing Director and Founding Partner of Baring Private Equity Asia. In March 2022, Baring announced its acquisition by Swedish investment firm EQT for $7.5 billion, a deal expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2022.

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