Gus Speth served on the faculty of the Vermont Law School as Professor of Law from 2010 to 2015. He now serves as a Fellow at the Tellus Institute, the Democracy Collaborative and the Vermont Law School. He is Co-Chair of the Next System Project at the Democracy Collaborative.
In 2009 he completed his decade-long tenure as Dean, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. From 1993 to 1999, Gus Speth was Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme and chair of the UN Development Group. Prior to his service at the UN, he was founder and president of the World Resources Institute; professor of law at Georgetown University; chairman of the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality (Carter Administration); and senior attorney and cofounder, Natural Resources Defense Council. Among his awards are the National Wildlife Federation’s Resources Defense Award, the Natural Resources Council of America’s Barbara Swain Award of Honor, a 1997 Special Recognition Award from the Society for International Development, Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Environmental Law Institute and the League of Conservation Voters, the Blue Planet Prize, the Thomas Berry Great Work Award of the Environmental Consortium of Colleges and Universities, and the Thomas Berry Award of the Forum on Religion and Ecology. He holds honorary degrees from Clark University, the College of the Atlantic, the Vermont Law School, Middlebury College, the University of South Carolina, Green Mountain College, the University of Massachusetts/Boston, and Unity College. He is the author, co-author or editor of seven books including the American Crisis series published by Yale University Press: Red Sky at Morning: America and the Crisis of the Global Environment (2004), The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability (2008), and America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy (2012). In 2014 he published a memoir, Angels by the River (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2014).
He graduated summa cum laude from Yale University in 1964 with a BA in Political Science, and subsequently earned an MLitt in Economics from Oxford University in 1966 as a Rhodes Scholar and his JD from the Yale Law School in 1969. After law school, he served as law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Hugo L. Black. Speth and his wife Cameron split their time between central Vermont and coastal South Carolina.
"The Plight of the Poor," Foreign Affairs, Volume 78, No. 3, May/June 1999
"A New U.S. Program for International Development and the Global Environment," The American Oxonian, Vol. LXXIX, No. 1, 1992
"Environmental Pollution: High and Rising," in Peter Borrelli ed., Crossroads: Environmental Priorities for the Future (Washington, DC: Island Press, 2008), pg. 171
"The United Nations and International Development: Forging a New Post Cold War Role," Foundation Day Lecture, Tata Energy Research Institute, Feb. 3, 1994
Awards & Accomplishments
Awards, Honors or Grants
A "Best Book" of the Year, Washington Post Book World, 2008 (for The Bridge at the Edge of the World)
DeVane Lecturer, Yale University, 2007.
Global Environmental Award, International Association for Impact Assessment, 2005.
Blue Planet Prize, 2002
Grand Cordon du Wissam Alaouite of Morocco. 1999
Barbara Swain Award. National Resources Council of America. 1992
Global 500 Roll of Honour, UN Environment Programme, 1988.
Director, Center for a New American Dream
Director, New Economics Institute
Director, Climate Reality Project
Honorary Trustee, Natural Resources Defense Council
Director, Institute for Sustainable Communities
- Vermont Natural Resources Council
- Southern Environmental Law Center
- EcoAmerica, 350.org
- Labor Network for Sustainability
- Heinz Center
- Vermont Institute for Natural Science
- United Republic/RepresentUS
- Democracy Collaborative Next System Project