May­or De Bla­sio and the Trust for Gov­er­nors Island Announce Glob­al Com­pe­ti­tion to Estab­lish Lead­ing Cli­mate Solu­tions Cen­ter In New York City


NEW YORK (June 28, 2021) — May­or Bill de Bla­sio and The Trust for Gov­er­nors Island (the Trust) today launched a glob­al com­pe­ti­tion to cre­ate a cli­mate-focused research and edu­ca­tion­al hub on Gov­er­nors Island. The com­pe­ti­tion invites uni­ver­si­ties and research insti­tu­tions to estab­lish an anchor insti­tu­tion for a Cli­mate Solu­tions Cen­ter, ded­i­cat­ed to com­bat­ting the cli­mate cri­sis in the heart of New York City’s har­bor. The Request for Expres­sions of Inter­est (RFEI) can be found here.

Trust for Gov­er­nors Island Pres­i­dent Clare New­man was joined by May­or Bill de Bla­sio, Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader Charles Schumer, US Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jer­ry Nadler, State Sen­a­tor Bri­an Kavanagh, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from New York City Coun­cil Mem­ber Mar­garet Chin’s office, and Jeff Che­tirko, Prin­ci­pal of the Urban Assem­bly New York Har­bor School to cel­e­brate the announcement.

The Cen­ter will cap­i­tal­ize on New York City’s unique tal­ent pool to pre­pare com­mu­ni­ties around the world for the impacts of cli­mate change; cre­ate good-pay­ing green jobs across the city; and fos­ter pub­lic aware­ness, dia­logue, and action to address the glob­al cli­mate crisis. 

Gov­er­nors Island is a crown jew­el of this city – a place where fam­i­lies, work­ers and stu­dents have come to enjoy a beau­ti­ful land­scape with spec­tac­u­lar views of the great­est city in the world. But we can get more out of this unique space. We can main­tain the island’s iden­ti­ty while turn­ing it into a world-class des­ti­na­tion for fight­ing the cli­mate cri­sis in New York City and across the world. That jour­ney starts today, and I can’t wait to see where it takes us,” said May­or Bill de Bla­sio.

New York City has every asset need­ed to become the glob­al leader in cli­mate solu­tions and adap­ta­tion. We have the best tal­ent, most inno­v­a­tive and cre­ative entre­pre­neurs, and now, we’re offer­ing Gov­er­nors Island as the ide­al loca­tion to host this exis­ten­tial work,” said Deputy May­or Vic­ki Been. This com­pe­ti­tion will fos­ter diverse ideas and per­spec­tives on how to cre­ate a world-class cli­mate solu­tions cen­ter, and I look for­ward to see­ing insti­tu­tions from across the globe pro­pose con­cepts for this once-in-a-gen­er­a­tion opportunity.” 

As our city emerges from the COVID-19 cri­sis, we have a crit­i­cal oppor­tu­ni­ty to address the glob­al cli­mate cri­sis in a way that cen­ters equi­ty, pre­pares our com­mu­ni­ties, and involves all New York­ers in cre­at­ing solu­tions,” said Clare New­man, Pres­i­dent and CEO of the Trust for Gov­er­nors Island. Sit­u­at­ed at the cen­ter of New York Har­bor, and at the cen­ter of New York City’s glob­al net­work of tal­ent, insti­tu­tions, busi­ness­es and lead­ers in cli­mate action, Gov­er­nors Island offers a vis­i­ble plat­form for edu­ca­tion, research and pub­lic engage­ment to address one of the defin­ing chal­lenges of our time. We look for­ward to work­ing with prospec­tive part­ners to define this impor­tant project for Gov­er­nors Island, and our city.” 

Just as the Unit­ed Nations was per­suad­ed to locate its head­quar­ters here three-quar­ters of a cen­tu­ry ago, today marks an impor­tant step in bring­ing a world-class insti­tu­tion to New York City to address the defin­ing issue of our time – cli­mate change,” said Ali­cia Glen, Chair of the Trust for Gov­er­nors Island. As we seek to com­bat the dev­as­tat­ing impacts of cli­mate change on our com­mu­ni­ties, this RFEI acknowl­edges and builds upon our his­to­ry as the glob­al cen­ter for inno­va­tion and progress.” 

The RFEI seeks an insti­tu­tion to lease land with­in 33 acres of devel­op­ment sites, and/​or up to one mil­lion square feet of adap­tive reuse oppor­tu­ni­ty avail­able with­in his­toric build­ings on Gov­er­nors Island. The Trust and the City of New York have part­nered to make avail­able up to $150 mil­lion of cap­i­tal fund­ing that may be allo­cat­ed to sup­port this project. 

A glob­al com­pe­ti­tion to cre­ate a cli­mate-focused research and edu­ca­tion­al hub on Gov­er­nors Island is exact­ly what this city, state, nation and plan­et needs. And what bet­ter place to save the plan­et in a speedy, just and equi­table way than in the very cen­ter of the uni­verse, New York City! We have the human cap­i­tal; we are a mag­net to attract inter­na­tion­al tal­ent; we have the pub­lic sys­tems to sup­port and sus­tain a vital new insti­tu­tion; and we have the pas­sion to tack­le this glob­al chal­lenge in a smart, sci­en­tif­ic and pro­gres­sive way. New York City is the world’s cen­ter for so many activ­i­ties so it is only nat­ur­al that the Big Apple also become the glob­al cen­ter for fight­ing cli­mate change,” said Sen­a­tor Charles Schumer.

There is no bet­ter place than Gov­er­nors Island to cre­ate a liv­ing lab­o­ra­to­ry focused on cli­mate solu­tions, research, and edu­ca­tion,” said Sen­a­tor Kirsten Gilli­brand. I am excit­ed to see what comes out of this glob­al com­pe­ti­tion and I look for­ward to work­ing with the Trust for Gov­er­nors Island to help real­ize the full poten­tial for this oppor­tu­ni­ty. The Cli­mate Solu­tions Cen­ter will help make sure that New York con­tin­ues to be a leader when it comes to resilien­cy and tack­ling the cli­mate crisis.” 

The cli­mate cri­sis is the most urgent threat fac­ing our world, our coun­try, and our city. Just as New York City leads the way in busi­ness, tech­no­log­i­cal advance­ment, and inno­va­tion, we should lead the way in devel­op­ing solu­tions to this most exis­ten­tial of chal­lenges,” said Con­gress­man Jer­ry Nadler. Estab­lish­ing a world-class insti­tu­tion on Governor’s Island with the spe­cif­ic goal of find­ing ways to over­come the per­ils of cli­mate change will bring green jobs to our city, pro­vide mean­ing­ful oppor­tu­ni­ties for edu­ca­tion and research, and ensure that any ris­ing tide that lifts all New York­ers is one we have firm­ly under our control.” 

As the cli­mate cri­sis con­tin­ues to wors­en, it has nev­er been more impor­tant to devel­op new and equi­table solu­tions to pro­tect com­mu­ni­ties from flood­ing, heat­waves, and oth­er forms of extreme weath­er,” said Jainey Bav­ishi, Direc­tor of the May­or’s Office of Cli­mate Resilien­cy. New York City is already a glob­al leader in cli­mate adap­ta­tion and is advanc­ing some of the most com­plex resilien­cy projects any­where in the world. Cre­at­ing this new Cli­mate Solu­tions Cen­ter will build on our exist­ing exper­tise and will help fos­ter research, inno­va­tion, and design in an icon­ic loca­tion in the heart of New York Harbor.” 

New York­ers are on the front­line of the cli­mate cri­sis and will be at the cen­ter of equi­table cli­mate solu­tions,” said Ben Fur­nas, Direc­tor of the May­or’s Office of Cli­mate and Sus­tain­abil­i­ty. The cap­i­tal invest­ment and glob­al com­pe­ti­tion to build a Cli­mate Solu­tions Cen­ter right here on Gov­er­nors Island will bring togeth­er the bright­est minds around the city and the world. Togeth­er, we’ll devel­op cli­mate research and edu­ca­tion that empow­ers us to take action on cli­mate, while improv­ing dai­ly life and cre­at­ing a clean­er, health­i­er, and fair­er future for all.” 

Respon­dents should artic­u­late a vision that address­es the City’s and the Trust’s goals as out­lined in the RFEI. In addi­tion to advanc­ing cli­mate-relat­ed fields, respon­dents’ plans should make a pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tion to Gov­er­nors Island’s phys­i­cal cam­pus and exist­ing com­mu­ni­ty of part­ners and vis­i­tors, while cre­at­ing broad­er oppor­tu­ni­ties for New York­ers who already enjoy the island. Respons­es to this RFEI are due on Sep­tem­ber 292021

A cen­ter for cli­mate solu­tions on Gov­er­nors Island is pro­ject­ed to cre­ate over 7,000 direct new jobs and near­ly $1 bil­lion in eco­nom­ic impact for New York City, both on Gov­er­nors Island alone. 

I’m hap­py that the Trust for Gov­er­nors Island is con­duct­ing a RFEI process for the planned cli­mate research cen­ter on the island.” said Man­hat­tan Bor­ough Pres­i­dent Gale A. Brew­er. Com­mu­ni­ty input and pub­lic engage­ment in this selec­tion process will help ensure that the Cen­ter will be occu­pied by the orga­ni­za­tion that is not only best suit­ed to address the cli­mate cri­sis, but also responds to the com­mu­ni­ty’s needs.” 

Gov­er­nors Island has a long and sto­ried past and I am pleased that the next chap­ter will include a cen­ter for inno­v­a­tive work on one of the great chal­lenges of our time, cli­mate change,” said State Sen­a­tor Bri­an Kavanagh. As the RFEI process moves for­ward, it will be impor­tant to ensure that the appli­cant select­ed and the pro­posed devel­op­ment align with the val­ues of the com­mu­ni­ty and all New York­ers who trea­sure Gov­er­nors Island as a green, pub­lic open space. We also look for­ward to ongo­ing sup­port for the essen­tial work of the envi­ron­men­tal and edu­ca­tion­al orga­ni­za­tions already on the Island, includ­ing the Bil­lion Oys­ter Project, Har­bor School, and Earth Mat­ters. I am excit­ed to con­tin­ue to work with the Trust for Gov­er­nors Island, my col­leagues in elect­ed office, our Com­mu­ni­ty Boards in Man­hat­tan and Brook­lyn, and the many New York­ers who care deeply for the Island.” 

Ris­ing tides are an imme­di­ate threat to New York City, and our coast­line com­mu­ni­ties are depend­ing on us for solu­tions to our cli­mate cri­sis. This Cli­mate Solu­tions Cen­ter is an oppor­tu­ni­ty to address glob­al warm­ing and bring a world-class insti­tu­tion to Gov­er­nors Island,” said Coun­cil Mem­ber Mar­garet Chin. I am so proud to have worked with the Trust for Governor’s Island to get us to this next phase, and I am thrilled that the Cli­mate Solu­tions Cen­ter is one step clos­er to being ful­ly actualized.” 

Cities can­not address cli­mate change with­out ensur­ing that envi­ron­men­tal jus­tice is embed­ded into our deci­sion-mak­ing, poli­cies, and solu­tions,” said Lisa Gar­cia, Direc­tor of FIX, Grist’s Cli­mate Solu­tions Lab and mem­ber of the Trust for Gov­er­nors Island’s Board of Direc­tors. Gov­er­nors Island is an inspir­ing exam­ple of a place that offers unpar­al­leled oppor­tu­ni­ties for pub­lic engage­ment in cli­mate action, and for col­lab­o­ra­tion and co-cre­ation of equi­table solu­tions with lead­ers in front­line com­mu­ni­ties, which is what makes it such a com­pelling place for a Cli­mate Solu­tions Center.” 

As the impact of cli­mate change on our com­mu­ni­ties accel­er­ates, we must focus on adapt­ing our urban envi­ron­ments and enhanc­ing resilien­cy in addi­tion to sharply cur­tail­ing car­bon emis­sions,” said Michael Oppen­heimer, Albert G. Mil­bank Pro­fes­sor of Geo­sciences and Inter­na­tion­al Affairs in the Prince­ton School of Pub­lic and Inter­na­tion­al Affairs (SPIA), the Depart­ment of Geo­sciences, and the High Mead­ows Envi­ron­men­tal Insti­tute at Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty and mem­ber of the Trust for Gov­er­nors Island’s Board of Direc­tors. The vision for the Cen­ter for Cli­mate Solu­tions comes at a time when the need for a cross-dis­ci­pli­nary approach to research, edu­ca­tion, and com­mu­ni­ty engage­ment could not be more urgent. I applaud the City for pro­vid­ing the space, vision, and financ­ing to cre­ate a first of its kind cen­ter ded­i­cat­ed to advanc­ing cli­mate sci­ence, cli­mate solu­tions, and cli­mate policy”. 

From super storms to extreme heat, New York­ers have grap­pled with the impacts of cli­mate change first hand,” said Nathanael Greene, Senior Renew­able Ener­gy Advo­cate at NRDC (Nat­ur­al Resources Defense Coun­cil). The cre­ation of a world-class cen­ter for cli­mate solu­tions on Governor’s Island will help fos­ter new approach­es to fight the cli­mate cri­sis and pro­tect front­line com­mu­ni­ties. This is anoth­er exam­ple of how New York City can help lead the way towards a safer and equi­table future for all of us.”

Over the past 19 years, Gov­er­nors Island has been trans­formed from an aban­doned Coast Guard Base into a mag­nif­i­cent urban park draw­ing one mil­lion vis­i­tors each year,” said Tom Wright, Pres­i­dent and CEO, Region­al Plan Asso­ci­a­tion. Such vision was cham­pi­oned by a broad alliance of orga­ni­za­tions when we began this jour­ney. Now the Gov­er­nors Island Trust has demon­strat­ed its abil­i­ty to exe­cute and improve upon that vision. Today’s announce­ment will help secure the right part­ners to cre­ate a col­lab­o­ra­tive research plat­form and advance cli­mate change solu­tions for the region and beyond.” 

Gov­er­nors Island is the per­fect New York City loca­tion for a research cen­ter tasked with tack­ling one of the world’s great­est cri­sis,” said Alliance for Down­town New York Pres­i­dent Jes­si­ca Lap­pin. This pro­gram will give our city and its inhab­i­tants an incred­i­ble oppor­tu­ni­ty to con­tribute direct­ly to solu­tions for our glob­al community.” 

New York City’s water­fronts are core to the City’s eco­nom­ic recov­ery and to cli­mate change adap­ta­tion. We com­mend The Trust for Gov­er­nors Island for the Cli­mate Solu­tions Cen­ter pro­pos­al which can bring solu­tions to the cli­mate cri­sis and make for a more liv­able and green­er city,” said Cort­ney Koenig-Wor­rall, CEO and Pres­i­dent, Water­front Alliance. We also look for­ward to a future of expand­ed fer­ry ser­vice at Gov­er­nors Island, com­mit­ments to a net-zero car­bon island, invest­ment in new dock and boat­ing infra­struc­ture, and local green and blue job cre­ation. New oppor­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple to touch the water and enjoy recre­ation­al boat­ing will also meet increased demand for recre­ation in the City.” 

The Asso­ci­a­tion for a Bet­ter New York (ABNY) is pleased to see this RFEI move for­ward. Estab­lish­ing a world-class cli­mate cen­ter on Gov­er­nors Island presents an oppor­tu­ni­ty for renew­al in the after­math of the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic and pur­sues solu­tions for the dev­as­ta­tion of anoth­er extreme threat to human­i­ty, and specif­i­cal­ly, to our most vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tions: cli­mate change,” said Mel­va M. Miller, Chief Exec­u­tive Offi­cer, Asso­ci­a­tion for a Bet­ter New York. By incor­po­rat­ing exist­ing com­mu­ni­ty part­ners and vis­i­tors into the RFEI’s require­ments along­side broad­er goals for research, edu­ca­tion, and eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment, the City and the Trust show com­mit­ment to advanc­ing pos­i­tive eco­nom­ic and social out­comes for all New Yorkers.” 

Cli­mate change is one of the most per­sis­tent and crit­i­cal chal­lenges our Earth faces today, and we can­not afford to wait anoth­er sec­ond to turn the tide,” said Dr. Dune Ives, sus­tain­abil­i­ty expert, CEO of ocean con­ser­va­tion non­prof­it, Lone­ly Whale, and co-found­ing part­ner of Ocean Heroes Net­work. The cross-sec­toral liv­ing plat­form of The Cen­ter for Cli­mate Solu­tions on Gov­er­nors Island would sus­tain not just our future, but my son’s future, all of our children’s future, and every­one and every liv­ing thing in between. Now more than ever, the voic­es of youth are influ­enc­ing glob­al cul­ture, and it is on all of us to answer their call by dri­ving for­ward glob­al action and awareness.” 

The Urban Assem­bly New York Har­bor School, that inhab­its this awe-inspir­ing island, will be fur­ther sup­port­ed by a Cli­mate Solu­tion Cen­ter by enhanc­ing our abil­i­ties to pro­vide excep­tion­al, hands-on Mar­itime Edu­ca­tion cur­ricu­lum to our diverse stu­dent pop­u­la­tion. Our school’s unique Career and Tech­ni­cal Edu­ca­tion pro­gram­ming, which strives to break down bar­ri­ers for young peo­ple enter­ing into the Mar­itime Indus­try, will be strength­ened by pro­vid­ing NYC stu­dents the oppor­tu­ni­ty to engage with the uni­ver­si­ty and/​or research cen­ter that will occu­py this pro­posed Cen­ter,” said Jef­frey Che­tirko, Prin­ci­pal of the Urban Assem­bly New York Har­bor School on Gov­er­nors Island. It is clear that the devel­op­ment on Gov­er­nors Island aligns with our school’s mis­sion in edu­cat­ing our city’s cit­i­zens about cli­mate change. This aware­ness of, and move­ment toward, cli­mate solu­tions allows us to con­tin­ue our envi­ron­men­tal restora­tion work all around the New York Har­bor with our stu­dents and staff along­side the Bil­lion Oys­ter Project.” 

This ini­tia­tive rep­re­sents an extra­or­di­nary oppor­tu­ni­ty for glob­al cli­mate lead­er­ship with a focus on equi­ty, com­mu­ni­ty, and civic action – a nec­es­sary scale-out of the mean­ing­ful work the Trust for Gov­er­nors Island has already been doing,” said Miran­da Massie, Direc­tor of the Cli­mate Muse­um. We’re proud­er than ever to be part of the cul­tur­al ecosys­tem the Trust has cre­at­ed, and very excit­ed for all that’s to come.” 

The peo­ple of Man­hat­tan Com­mu­ni­ty Dis­trict 1 know about the worst impacts of cli­mate change,” said Tam­my, Meltzer, Chair of Man­hat­tan Com­mu­ni­ty Board 1. While this process appears to be mov­ing quick­ly and we have not yet seen the RFEI, we look for­ward to estab­lish­ing robust engage­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties as part of our respon­si­bil­i­ty to the pub­lic and we hope that the Trust does the same. We encour­age those insti­tu­tions who intend to respond to the RFEI to bal­ance the world class research with the simul­ta­ne­ous pro­tec­tion of the bucol­ic nature of the grounds and incred­i­ble view that make Gov­er­nors Island so unique.”

The Nation­al Park Ser­vice is proud to wel­come vis­i­tors to the Gov­er­nors Island Nation­al Mon­u­ment to explore Gov­er­nors Island’s rich his­to­ry each year,” said Shirley McK­in­ney, Man­hat­tan Sites Super­in­ten­dent for the Nation­al Park Ser­vice. We share the Trust for Gov­er­nors Island’s mis­sion in expand­ing access to this jew­el of New York Har­bor, and are thrilled that the City of New York is fur­ther invest­ing in this remark­able place.” 

The pro­posed Cen­ter for Cli­mate Solu­tions rep­re­sents the cul­mi­na­tion of com­mu­nal efforts we helped ini­ti­ate 25 years ago to turn an aban­doned mil­i­tary base into a vibrant pub­lic resource,” said Mer­ritt Birn­baum, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of the Friends of Gov­er­nors Island. We com­mend the Trust for Gov­er­nors Island and the City for the work they’ve already accom­plished in cre­at­ing an extra­or­di­nary park and pub­lic des­ti­na­tion – and for this game-chang­ing next step. Beyond its envi­sioned con­tri­bu­tions to the cli­mate field, the Cen­ter will bring huge advan­tages for every­day New York­ers, includ­ing increased pub­lic access, more week­day ameni­ties, new long-term uses for his­toric build­ings and a con­tin­ued focus on learn­ing, inno­va­tion, sus­tain­abil­i­ty and pub­lic engagement.” 

For over a decade, Low­er Man­hat­tan Cul­tur­al Coun­cil (LMCC) has served artists and the pub­lic at our Arts Cen­ter at Gov­er­nors Island through dynam­ic pro­gram­ming that encour­ages cre­ative and crit­i­cal inquiry around issues of ecol­o­gy, sus­tain­abil­i­ty, and social prac­tice. A Cli­mate Solu­tions Cen­ter will offer rich oppor­tu­ni­ties for LMCC and the Island’s cul­tur­al and envi­ron­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions to col­lab­o­rate on ground­break­ing ideas and cross-dis­ci­pli­nary projects, all while dri­ven by our shared com­mit­ment to equi­ty and civic par­tic­i­pa­tion,” said Lili Chopra, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, Artis­tic Pro­grams, and Diego S. Segali­ni, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, Finance & Admin­is­tra­tion, Low­er Man­hat­tan Cul­tur­al Coun­cil (LMCC).

All pho­tos © Ed Reed/​Mayoral Pho­tog­ra­phy Office