The New School News

Timon McPhearson, Director of the Urban Systems Lab, Has Been Selected as a Chapter Lead for the First U.S. National Nature Assessment

Timon McPhearson, professor of urban ecology and director of the Urban Systems Lab, was named a chapter lead for the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s First National Nature Assessment (NNA1). McPhearson is one of 11 chapter leads who were nominated through a public call for experts, issued by the Steering Committee in conjunction with the Department of the Interior—the NNA1 administrative agency. Each candidate was evaluated on their leadership qualities, past assessment experience, relationships within the nature and assessment communities, availability to commit to the time required for the role, and a range of diversity categories.

“The depth and breadth of our chapter leadership team is remarkable. We are incredibly fortunate to have the expertise, experience, and leadership of these recognized thought leaders for America’s first-ever National Nature Assessment,” said NNA1 Director Dr. Phil Levin in a press release.

“As part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Executive Order on nature-based solutions, it’s exciting to see the NNA underway and with strong leadership across the country. 

This assessment is a critical opportunity to take stock of our nation’s natural capital and chart a pathway forward for nature-based approaches to improving health, resilience, and equity,” says McPhearson.  

As chapter lead, McPhearson will co-direct, with a federal counterpart, the scoping of the first  chapter of the NNA, kicking off the report. His responsibilities will include selecting and inviting all chapter authors and technical contributors,  the development and writing of the chapter, and leading it through the public and peer review process. Chapter Leads will also direct the outreach and communication activities for their chapter after the Assessment’s release. 

NNA1 will take a holistic approach to better understand the role of nature in the lives of people across the country, integrating science with traditional ways of knowing and the needs of communities. The Assessment will look at the inherent value of nature to people, and its contributions to human well-being, the economy, cultural heritage, national security and more. It will also look ahead to understand how these benefits might change under future conditions. The NNA1 is expected to be released in 2026.

“The NNA1 is an exciting new venture to capture how investing in nature can get us to a healthy, prosperous, and equitable future,” said USGCRP Acting Executive Director Stacy Aguilera-Peterson in a press release. “The world-class team driving NNA1 is creating a new picture of nature in the United States and will give us much needed information about how to integrate nature into our decision-making and planning.”

The New School has long played a role in addressing the climate crisis through its research centers and the scholarship of many faculty members. The Urban Systems Lab is one of many initiatives that researches the social, ecological, and technological systems that drive persistent challenges in cities, and provides new insight into developing more equitable, resilient, and sustainable communities.

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