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Governors Island set for key role to lead global initiatives for climate

Among goals for advisory committee: choose from best institution's proposals & 7,000 permanent jobs, $1B fiscal impact.

April 21, 2022 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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The Trust for Governors Island on Thursday announced the next steps in the competition to establish a global Center for Climate Solutions on Governors Island. As the final phase of a global competition, four teams led by top universities will respond to a targeted Request for Proposals (RFP) released today. Announced as part of Mayor Eric Adams’ “Rebuild, Renew, Reinvent: A Blueprint for NYC’s Economic Recovery,” the RFP will select an anchor academic and research partner to build a new state of the art institution dedicated to researching and demonstrating urban climate solutions, and advancing education and training opportunities for New Yorkers in climate and environmental fields.

“The Center for Climate Solutions on Governors Island will position New York City as the worldwide leader in developing solutions to the crisis of our time while creating thousands of new jobs to fuel our city’s post-COVID recovery,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer. “The newly created Climate Center Advisory Committee is made up of experts in their field that are committed to the long-term health of our city and our planet, and we look forward to their guidance as we enter the next phase of this process.”

Clare Newman

“Today’s announcement represents a crucial step in establishing New York City as a global leader in the development of equitable climate solutions,” said Clare Newman, President and CEO of the Trust for Governors Island. “Governors Island’s singular environment, growing community of tenants and partners, and climate-resilient landscapes make it an unparalleled place to develop, showcase, and scale new ideas. We look forward to working with the finalist teams, as well as the newly formed Climate Advisory Committee, on the next phase of this project.”

“New York City is at the forefront of generating innovative and equitable solutions to some of our nation’s most complex challenges,” said Alicia Glen, Founder and Managing Principal of MSquared and Chair of the Trust for Governors Island Board of Directors. The center for climate solutions on Governors Island will further establish our City as a global leader in combating the climate crisis. We are excited to work with the finalist teams and are grateful for the amazing set of stakeholders, academics, and thought leaders for being our strategic partners on the next steps of this journey.”

“New York City is facing some of the most complex climate adaptation challenges in the world,” said Kizzy Charles-Guzman, Executive Director of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice. “The Center for Climate Solutions will bring together actionable science, community-based partnerships, and innovative and equitable solutions to communities on the frontline of the climate crisis. We look forward to learning from the world-class work on Governors Island and applaud the Trust for their climate leadership.”

The Center for Climate Solutions is a groundbreaking initiative designed to further New York City as a global leader in efforts to respond to the climate crisis. On Governors Island, the project will support the research, development, and demonstration of equitable climate solutions for New York City that can be scaled and applied globally. Through interdisciplinary education, training, and broad public engagement opportunities, the Center will support the growth of green and climate-related jobs driving New York City’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and will serve as a national model for growing green- and blue-tech sectors. At full build, the Center for Climate Solutions will create 7,000 permanent jobs on Governors Island alone, and nearly $1B in fiscal impact for the city of New York.

The four teams invited to move to the next stage in the competition by responding to the RFP were selected as finalists to anchor the Center based on visions put forth in response to a competitive Request for Expressions of Interest released in June, 2021 and are led by the following institutions:

  • The City University of New York (CUNY) and The New School
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Northeastern University
  • Stony Brook University

As part of the RFP released today, selected finalist teams will have the opportunity to further refine their proposed curriculum and research program, design of facilities, phasing, and team members and structure. Pre-qualified respondents will be required to further articulate their vision for how their project will advance climate-related fields and further the City’s goals, including connecting New Yorkers with educational and workforce training opportunities, showcasing innovative approaches to sustainable and resilient design, and enhancing Governors Island’s unique physical setting, and creating broader opportunities for New Yorkers. Responses to the RFP are due July 27, 2022. To read the full RFP document, please visit

Yankee Pier Plaza rendering

Mayor Eric Adams and the Trust also announced today the formation of an Advisory Committee to support the selection of an anchor academic and research institution for the Center for Climate Solutions. This group of experts from climate science, policy, environmental justice, philanthropy, and business will advise on the city’s efforts to create a Center for Climate Solutions on Governors Island throughout the RFP process and will provide input on prospective academic and research partners’ proposals to a selection committee made up of City and Trust officials.

The Climate Center Advisory Committee announced today includes the following members:

  • Dana Bourland, Senior Vice President, Environment and Strategic Initiatives, The JPB Foundation
  • Christian Braneon, Climate Scientist, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
  • Marco Carrión, Executive Director, El Puente
  • Mark Chambers, Senior Director for Building Emissions and Community Resilience, White House Council on Environmental Quality, Executive Office of President Joseph R. Biden, Former Director of Sustainability, City of New York
  • Dr. Luz Claudio, Professor of Environmental Medicine and Chief of the Division of International Health, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
  • Cheryl Cohen Effron, Senior Advisor, Tishman Speyer
  • Adam Freed, Principal, Sustainability, Bloomberg Associates
  • Chante Harris, Director, Climate Investment and Partnerships, Venture for ClimateTech, Second Muse
  • Kyle Kimball, Vice President, Government Relations, ConEdison
  • Michael Northrop, Program Director, Sustainable Development, Rockefeller Brothers Fund
  • Michael Oppenheimer, Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs, Princeton University
  • Henk Ovink, Special Envoy for International Water Affairs, Kingdom of the Netherlands
  • Julie Tighe, President, New York League of Conservation Voters

Following the response deadline, the City and the Trust will launch a process in Fall 2022 where information on received proposals will be shared with the public for input to inform the selection of an academic and research partner.

“I am proud of our competition finalists, who embody New York City’s leadership in environmental justice and sustainable development,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “I want to thank New York City leaders and the Trust for Governors Island for providing the necessary investments and resources to help our environmental leaders of tomorrow seek bold, innovative, and inclusive solutions to climate change.”

“The release of the targeted RFP for the Center for Climate Solutions on Governors Island brings us one step closer to establishing a world class institution to tackle the existential threat of climate change”, said Congressman Jerry Nadler. “When this process is finally completed, New York will be a leader in education, research and collaboration around climate change and help bring green jobs and infrastructure to our city.”

Western Promenade rendering

“The Center for Climate Solutions will play an integral role in our city’s work to respond and adapt to climate change, and I’m excited for the next phase of this process,” said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. “These four finalist teams will have an opportunity to ensure the Climate Center revolutionizes how we understand and plan for the future. I’m looking forward to working with the Trust and local community throughout the selection process, and could not be more proud that this work will be taking place on Governors Island.”

“Encouraging collaboration and innovation from experts and partners to help find new ways to combat the challenges of climate change is expected to move the needle further,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. “I look forward to seeing what our finalists put forth for the future Center for Climate Solutions on Governors Island.”

“I congratulate the finalists on making it to the next stage of this process, and the Governors Island Trust for attracting such strong contenders seeking to help create the Center for Climate Solutions,” said State Senator Brian Kavanagh, who represents Governors Island. “I look forward to learning more about the proposals in the coming months and working with the newly formed Advisory Committee as the process moves forward. I appreciate the Trust’s continued efforts to engage with the community on this and its dedication to addressing the climate crisis and supporting equitable climate solutions.”

“Climate change is the existential challenge of our time, and New York City can lead the way in creating real solutions for our communities, and for cities around the world,” said Council Member Jim Gennaro, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection. “Located at the center of New York Harbor, Governors Island is well positioned to be a hub for scientific research, learning, and job training to make New York the place for global climate action. I commend Mayor Eric Adams and the Trust for moving this project forward, and look forward to working with them in creating this center for climate solutions.”

Fort Jay Theater rendering

“This RFP is an exciting opportunity for the finalists to refine their visions for how climate research, innovation and demonstration can be interwoven into the fabric of our unique public space,” said Merritt Birnbaum, Executive Director of the Friends of Governors Island. “The selected academic partner will bring new resources to enliven the Island’s indoor and outdoor spaces year-round. We look forward to working alongside the Trust and the Island’s community of climate and environmental-focused organizations to continue enhancing the public’s experience of Governors Island.”

“The Governors Island Climate Center is taking another important step closer to reality,” said Tom Wright, President and CEO, Regional Plan Association. “Since RPA first launched the Governors Island Alliance in 1995 to promote public uses for the island, we have been pleased to see Governors Island become a vital and important public amenity. Now, as the region grapples with the climate crisis, we are proud to stand with the Trust as it becomes a leader for urban climate research, green jobs training, and resiliency.”

“Every step in this process brings New York City closer to being a leader in an endeavor that is vital to our future,” said Jessica Lappin, President of the Alliance for Downtown New York. “The Climate Solutions Center will ultimately bring two things we desperately need: jobs and hope in our battle against the inexorable forces of climate change.”

“The Association for a Better New York (ABNY) is pleased to see the Center for Climate Solutions is one step closer to reality. By issuing the Request for Proposals (RFP) to these four prestigious finalists, the Climate Center Advisory Committee undoubtedly will receive innovative plans focused on creating a green, equitable future for all New Yorkers for generations to come. We applaud Mayor Adams and The Trust for Governors Island for their dedication to creating opportunities for New Yorkers in the fast-growing climate and environmental fields, and we look forward to the public review process.”

“Green City Force is excited about the holistic approach and commitment to economy, ecology and equity, featured in the design and vision of the Trust for Governors Island Center for Climate Solutions. The global Center for Climate Solutions will be a critical factor in NYC’s next chapter prioritizing real and collective action to address climate and resiliency in all boroughs and corners of our #futuregreencity. Recognition of the variety of inputs and stakeholders needed to build long-term, solid careers in the green economy for all New Yorkers is a critical part of the framework. We look forward to working with the center as a vital new part of the NYC ecosystem working to build the resilient and thriving NYC we all need for a just transition,” said Tonya Gayle, Executive Director, Green City Force.

Hammock Grove rendering

“This extraordinary and vital initiative is a great source of excitement here at the Climate Museum,” said Miranda Massie, Director of the Climate Museum. “We’re proud to have partnered with the Governors Island team from our very beginning, and delighted to be part of this critical next step in a momentous time.”

“The future of Governors Island, one of the jewels of New York City, is rightly connected to climate solutions needed for our collective future in the coming decades and century,” said Cortney Koenig Worrall, President and CEO of the Waterfront Alliance. “Today’s announcement is exciting as it represents one of the final steps in determining the direction the City and its future institutional partner will take to bring local and global climate solutions, innovation, and climate jobs to New York City.  The climate crisis calls for transformational solutions for communities, industry, planning, and infrastructure and we are pleased the opportunity at Governors Island reflects this challenge.”

“New York has so much potential to be a global leader in finding solutions to climate change,” said Jonathan Bowles, Executive Director for Center for an Urban Future. “Anchoring this research center on Governors Island will help the city get there and help spark loads of good jobs in a part of the economy that’s poised for considerable growth.”

“Congratulations to the Trust for Governors Island for its progress in establishing a Center for Climate Solutions,” said GrowNYC President and CEO Marcel Van Ooyen. “GrowNYC’s partnership with the Trust, allowing for the operation of our Teaching Garden on the island, is invaluable. We are so thankful for the many years of support from the Trust and look forward to working closely with the team that wins the bid.”

Southeastern Promenade rendering

“It’s encouraging to see a commitment to education and workforce development established in the foundation of The Center for Climate Solutions,” said Pete Malinowski, Executive Director of Billion Oyster Project. “Governors Island tenants, like Billion Oyster Project and the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School, view the new Center as a significant step towards building a vibrant, restorative, and accessible New York Harbor.”

“Governors Island continues to lead the charge in being the premier environmental resource for the students of the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School and the NYC Department of Education,” said Jeffrey Chetirko, Principal of the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School. “The wide array of communities, who inhabit Governors Island, represent the ideal curriculum for our city’s students’ as they prepare for their future: education, play, wellness, art, sustainability, horticulture, restoration and now Climate Solution Research. The NYC Mayor and Governors Island leadership have created a fair and equitable process for the interested institutions. With the inclusion of a Climate Advisory Committee, experts in their fields will ensure our NYC students will benefit in education and work experience from the creation of the Center for Climate Solution for years to come”

“Governors Island selected a fantastic group of contenders for the site,” said Amy Chester, Managing Director of Rebuild by Design. “We are excited to see the innovative climate solutions the teams will bring to both the Island, and to our City.”

About the Trust for Governors Island
The Trust for Governors Island is the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization created by the City of New York responsible for the planning, operations and ongoing development of Governors Island. The Trust’s mission is to realize the full potential of Governors Island for the inspiration and enjoyment of all New Yorkers, demonstrating a bold vision for public space.

For more information, visit

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