An engaging discussion on tipping points in environmental policy—what factors contribute to transformational change and how can we replicate breakthroughs to protect the global commons?

April 20, 1970, the first Earth Day, marked the beginning of an unprecedented five-year period of environmental policy breakthroughs in the United States. Millions of Americans demonstrated in support of environmental protection and conservation. Richard Nixon’s administration created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), established the Council on Environmental Quality, and adopted the National Environmental Policy Act. Landmark legislation, including the Clean Air Act, Water Pollution Control Act and Endangered Species Act, was passed in rapid succession.

Never before or after this five-year period has such public concern for the planet, political action and legislative consensus on environmental issues existed in the United States.

What precipitated this tipping point in American environmental policy, and how can we replicate transformational change to curb global warming and environmental degradation? How do we prevent the Trump administration from dismantling the EPA, unraveling critically important environmental legislation, and withdrawing from the Paris Agreement?

To help answer these questions, Senior Fellow at the International Institute for Sustainable Development Robert Repetto will examine past tipping points in environmental policy. He will outline the political, institutional and legal factors that contribute to unprecedented policy breakthroughs.

Neelam Singh, a Senior Associate from WRI’s Climate Program, will join Robert Repetto on the panel to share her work on transformational change in the context of climate change mitigation and sustainable development policies. Together, they will discuss the application of this approach to understanding tipping points and identifying opportunities for protecting the global commons.


Robert Repetto, Senior Fellow, International Institute for Sustainable Development

Neelam Singh, Senior Associate, Climate, World Resources Institute


Mark Robinson, Global Director, Governance, World Resources Institute

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About the Series

WRI’s Greening Governance Seminar Series explores how good governance – inclusive, transparent decision-making processes, equal access to justice, strong institutions and a vibrant civil society – not only help policymakers advance more effective, equitable policies, but also implement ambitious commitments like the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals.

Greening Governance seminars bring diverse panels of experts together to grapple with tough questions and identify successful strategies at the intersection of governance, environmental sustainability and human well-being. Interested in attending or watching remotely? Subscribe to our Greening Governance newsletter and follow us on Twitter to stay updated on upcoming events.