Below is an alphabetical listing of notable sustainability organizations from a variety of disciplines. Placement of an organization on this list recognizes a degree of influence on the sustainability discourse, but it does not equate to an endorsement. Use all resources at your own discretion.
Action Without Borders
Action Without Borders is an international nonprofit organization founded in 1995 and based in the USA. The organization currently runs the Idealist.org, Idealistas.org and Idéaliste.org websites. These web sites are platforms that allow nonprofit organizations to post event information, volunteering opportunities, jobs, resources and services; individuals can then search this information and sign up for volunteering opportunities, apply for jobs, etc. The web site also provides information produced by the nonprofit itself, such as information on volunteering abroad.
Tags: social, community, advocacy
Alternative Farming Systems Information Center (AFSIC)
The Alternative Farming Systems Information Center (AFSIC) specializes in identifying resources about sustainable food systems and practices in support of USDA’s effort to ensure a sustainable future for agriculture and farmers worldwide.
Tags: government, agriculture, policy
American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE)
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, or ACEEE, is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization. Founded in 1980, ACEEE’s mission is to advance energy efficiency as a fast, cheap, and effective means of meeting energy challenges. ACEEE promotes energy efficiency by conducting technical and policy analyses; advising policymakers and program managers; and working collaboratively with businesses, government officials, public interest groups, and other organizations. It convenes conferences and workshops, primarily for energy efficiency professionals, and produces reports, books, conference proceedings, and media outreach.
Tags: energy, economy, nonprofit
Austin Energy Green Building
Created by the City of Austin in 1990, the organization claims to be the first green building program in the United States.
Tags: building, environment, advocacy, policy
The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE)
The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) is a growing North American alliance of nearly 60 fully autonomous local business networks with their own names, missions, and initiatives, representing about 20,000 US and Canadian entrepreneurs. All networks share a commitment to Living Economy principles. BALLE works to catalyze, strengthen and connect these local business networks dedicated to building Local Living Economies. A Local Living Economy ensures that economic power resides locally, sustaining healthy community life and natural life, as well as long-term economic viability.
Tags: business, economy, advocacy
The Biomimicry Institute
The Biomimicry Institute is non-profit organization based in Missoula, Montana, USA. It was founded in 2006 by Janine Benyus; a natural sciences writer, innovation consultant, and author of six books, including − Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature. Its mission is to naturalize biomimicry in culture by promoting the transfer of ideas, designs, and strategies from biology to sustainable human systems design with the aim of creating a healthier, more sustainable planet.
Tags: environment, ngo, advocacy
Bioneers, also known as the Collective Heritage Institute, is a New Mexico-based nonprofit organization promoting practical and innovative solutions to environmental and social problems based in a philosophy which recognizes the aliveness, interdependence, and intelligence of the natural world. Bioneers holds an annual conference each October in San Rafael, California. Plenary sessions from the main conference are also broadcast through satellite feeds to “Beaming Bioneers” conferences held simultaneously at sites in various locations throughout the United States and Canada. Collective Heritage Institute/Bioneers was founded in 1990.
Tags: environment, social, community, advocacy
From the publishers of Environmental Building News, a community resource for LEED, CSI, and other green building initiatives.
Tags: building, business, environment
Business and Industry Resource Venture
A service of Seattle Public Utilities, Resource Venture provides free information, assistance and
referrals to help Seattle businesses improve their environmental performance.
Tags: business, environment, advocacy
Business for Social Responsibility (BSR)
Business for Social Responsility is a professional organization whose efforts focus on corporate responsibility in areas of social and environmental justice.
Tags: business, economy, environment
Center for a New American Dream
The Center for a New American Dream is a nonprofit organization with a stated mission to “help Americans to reduce and shift their consumption to improve quality of life, protect the environment, and promote social justice.” The organization works with individuals, institutions, communities, and businesses to conserve natural resources, counter the commercialization of culture, support community engagement, and promote positive changes in the way goods are produced and consumed.
Tags: advocacy, nonprofit, community
Center for a Sustainable Economy
A non-partisan research and policy organization that promotes innovative tax and other market-based approaches to achieving a sustainable economy.
Tags: business, economy, policy
Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE)
CASSE is an organization dedicated to advocating a sustainable economy with stabilized population and
consumption; such an economy is called a “steady state economy.”
Tags: business, economy, policy
Ceres (pronounced “series”) is a non-profit, American network of investors, environmental organizations and other public interest groups working with companies and investors to address sustainability challenges, such as global climate change. Founded in 1989, its core mission is integrating sustainability into capital markets. In 2007, Ceres was named one of the 100 most influential players in corporate governance by Directorship magazine. Ceres was a recipient of the Skoll Foundation Award for Social Entrepreneurship in 2006, as well as a recipient of the Fast Company Social Capitalist Awards in 2008. Ceres is based in Boston, Massachusetts. As of 2010, its president is Mindy S. Lubber.
Tags: business, economy, non-profit
The Climate Project
The Climate Reality Project is a nonprofit organization founded and chaired by Nobel laureate and former Vice President Al Gore. The group is involved in education and advocacy campaigns related to climate change. Two nonprofit organizations founded by Al Gore, The Alliance for Climate Protection and The Climate Project, joined together in 2010. The combined organization was renamed The Climate Reality Project in July 2011. The Climate Reality Project has more than 5 million members and supporters. According to the official website, the group is “bringing the facts about the climate crisis into the mainstream and engaging the public in conversation about how to solve it.”
Tags: climate, environment, advocacy
An organization promoting a regional approach to global warming solutions.
Tags: climate, policy, community
CorpWatch is a research group based in San Francisco, California, USA. The group’s mission is non-profit investigative research and journalism to expose corporate malfeasance and to advocate for multinational corporate accountability and transparency. Their site states that they aim to foster global justice, independent media activism and democratic control over corporations by exposing multinational corporations that profit from war, fraud, environmental, human rights and other abuses and to provide critical information to foster a more informed public.
Tags: advocacy, environment, policy
Earth Island Institute
The Earth Island Institute was founded in 1982 by environmentalist David Brower. It organizes and encourages activism around environmental issues and provides public education. Funding comes from individual members and supporting organizations. Through fiscal sponsorship, it provides the administrative and organizational framework for many individual projects that would otherwise be duplicating administrative requirements. It is based in Berkeley, California.
Tags: environment, education, policy, advocacy
Earth Policy Institute
Earth Policy Institute is an environmental organization based in Washington DC in the United States. It was founded by Lester R. Brown in 2001. It writes weekly articles regarding environmental indicators and ways to move civilization to a sustainable path both environmentally and economically.
Tags: environment, economy, advocacy
Self-described mission: “[to build] a network of energy experts, using new media, to help find and solve everyday energy efficiency and green problems for business and communities.”
Tags: advocacy, social, community
The EnviroLink Network serves as a clearinghouse for environmental information on the Internet, as well as providing free services to help progressive organizations adopt emerging technologies.
Tags: environment, advocacy, nonprofit
Environmental Defense Fund
Environmental Defense Fund or EDF (formerly known as Environmental Defense) is a United States–based nonprofit environmental advocacy group. The group is known for its work on issues including global warming, ecosystem restoration, oceans, and human health. It is nonpartisan, and its work often advocates market-based solutions to environmental problems.
Tags: environment, nonprofit, advocacy
Environmental Working Group
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is an American environmental organization that specializes in research and advocacy in the areas of toxic chemicals, agricultural subsidies, public lands, and corporate accountability. EWG is a non-profit organization (501(c)(3)) whose mission, according to their website, is “to use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment.”
Tags: environment, policy, advocacy
Fair Trade USA
Fair Trade USA, formerly “TransFair USA” is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Founded in 1998, Fair Trade USA’s mission is to “enable sustainable development and community empowerment by cultivating a more equitable global trade model that benefits farmers, workers, consumers, industry and the earth”. Fair Trade USA audits transactions between US companies offering Fair Trade Certified products and the international suppliers from whom they source, in order to guarantee that the farmers and farm workers behind Fair Trade Certified goods were paid a fair, honest price. The Fair Trade model requires rigorous protection of local ecosystems and ensures farmers receive a harvest price, which will allow them to practice sustainable agriculture. In addition, annual inspections conducted by FLO-CERT ensure that strict socioeconomic development criteria are being met using increased Fair Trade revenues, in addition to sustainable farm management, environmental stewardship and democratic decision-making. The Fair Trade model seeks to empower farmers and workers around the world, keeping families, local economies, the natural environment, and the larger community strong today and for generations to come.
Tags: economy, agriculture, community, development
Started in 1993 as a project of Oregon State University, Washington State University, and the Washington State Department of Agriculture, Food Alliance was formally incorporated in 1997. Food Alliance enjoys support from leaders in both organic and conventional agriculture, from retail and wholesale food businesses, government agencies, and organizations representing farm labor, animal welfare, and the environment.
Tags: agriculture, labor, environment, advocacy
Friends of the Earth (FOE)
Friends of the Earth International (FOEI) is an international network of environmental organizations in 76 countries. FOEI is assisted by a small secretariat (based in Amsterdam) which provides support for the network and its agreed major campaigns. The executive committee of elected representatives from national groups set policy and oversee the work of the secretariat.
Tags: environment, policy, development
Future 500’s self-described mission is to “bring together strategically-selected companies, NGOs, and opinion leaders to overcome mutual distrust and advance systemic solutions.”
Tags: business, economy, development
Global Ecovillage Network
The Global Ecovillage Network is a global association of people and communities (ecovillages) dedicated to living “sustainable plus” lives by restoring the land and adding more to the environment than is taken. Network members share ideas and information, transfer technologies and develop cultural and educational exchanges.
Tags: community, development, environment
Global Environment & Technology Foundation (GETF)
The Global Environment & Technology Foundation (GETF), established in 1988, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based near Washington, DC with a mission to promote sustainable development through partnerships and targeted action. GETF seeks to shape a brighter future for communities and the environment by developing innovative strategic plans, creating high-impact partnerships, introducing new technologies and managing programs that have a lasting and positive impact on the world.
Tags: nonprofit, environment, technology
Global Environmental Management Iniative (GEMI)
Self-description: “GEMI is a global leader in developing insights and creating environmental sustainability solutions for business. For 20+ years, GEMI has captured the vision and experience of global corporate environmental, health and safety (EHS) and sustainability leaders from diverse business sectors through the development of a wide range of more than 30 publicly-available, solutions-based tools designed to help companies improve the environment, their operations and add business value. Spanning multiple eras of environmental management, GEMI has remained on the leading edge of EHS and sustainability issues and development.”
Tags: business, economy, environment
Global Exchange is an advocacy group and non-governmental organization (NGO), based in San Francisco, California, United States. The group’s mission is to promote human rights and social, economic, and environmental justice around the world.
Tags: ngo, advocacy, community
Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)
The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) produces one of the world’s most prevalent standards for sustainability reporting – also known as ecological footprint reporting, Environmental Social Governance (ESG) reporting, Triple Bottom Line (TBL) reporting, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) reporting. Sustainability reporting is a form of value reporting where an organization publicly communicates their economic, environmental, and social performance. GRI seeks to make sustainability reporting by all organizations as routine as, and comparable to, financial reporting.
Tags: nonprofit, business, environment
Green Cross International (GCI)
Green Cross International is an environmental organisation founded by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1993, building upon the work started by the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Green Cross International’s mission is “to help ensure a just, sustainable and secure future for all by fostering a value shift and cultivating a new sense of global interdependence and shared responsibility in humanity’s relationship with nature.” This organisation publishes a newsletter and also came out with a publication entitled “Antarctica: the Global Warning.”. Thirty-one countries have established Green Cross National organisations which are part of Green Cross International.
Tags: ngo, environment, development
Self-description: “GreenBiz Group provides clear, concise, accurate, and balanced information, resources, and learning opportunities to help companies of all sizes and sectors integrate environmental responsibility into their operations in a manner that supports profitable business practices.”
Tags: business, news, environment
Greenpeace is a non-governmental environmental organization with offices in over 40 countries and with an international coordinating body in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Greenpeace states its goal is to “ensure the ability of the Earth to nurture life in all its diversity” and focuses its work on world wide issues such as global warming, deforestation, overfishing, commercial whaling and anti-nuclear issues. Greenpeace uses direct action, lobbying and research to achieve its goals. The global organization does not accept funding from governments, corporations or political parties, relying on more than 2.8 million individual supporters and foundation grants. Greenpeace is a founding member of the INGO Accountability Charter; an international nongovernmental organization that intends to foster accountability and transparency of non-governmental organizations.
Tags: ngo, policy, environment, advocacy
Healthy Building Network
The Healthy Building Network is an organization founded in 2000 which publishes and researches information on the sustainability of building materials and advocates for the use of environmentally friendly building materials and building policies. Other partner organizations which support the projects of the Healthy Building Network, including Boston Green and BuildingGreen. One of the main projects designed to publish the environmental impact information of building materials is the Pharos project. Pharos Project was first unveiled in 2006, and was described by an HBN representative as “a user-friendly materials evaluation tool that strives to be transparent, comprehensive, independent, accurate and fair.”
Tags: building, development, policy
International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)
The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) is a London-based policy research centre and think tank. IIED is one of a small group of not-for-profit organisations which has provided core concepts and methods for thinking about sustainability and social change. It is entirely independent, aiming to “…help shape a future that ends global poverty and delivers and sustains efficient and equitable management of the world’s natural resources.”
Tags: environment, development, policy
International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) is an international organization dedicated to finding “pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges.” The organization publishes the IUCN Red List, compiling information from a network of conservation organizations to rate which species are most endangered.
Tags: conservation, environment, policy
Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS)
Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) is a demographic defining a particular market segment related to sustainable living, “green” ecological initiatives, and generally composed of a relatively upscale and well-educated population segment. The author Paul H. Ray, who coined the term Cultural Creatives in his book by the same name, explains that “What you’re seeing is a demand for products of equal quality that are also virtuous.” Included in the cultural creative demographic are consumers of New Age goods and services. LOHAS Online is an organization targeting this particular group.
Tags: community, marketing, business
National Center for Appropriate Technology
The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is an American organization headquartered in Butte, MT that is dedicated to appropriate technology and sustainability. Projects specifically deal with sustainable energy, sustainable food/agriculture, farm energy, and climate change. It carries out projects within the USA, especially in poor, rural areas. It has regional offices in Davis, CA, Fayetteville, AR, Hammond, LA, Des Moines, IA, and Shavertown, PA.
Tags: technology, energy, agriculture
National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE)
Emerging from the famous Brundtland Report, Our Common Future, the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE or Round Table) is a model for convening diverse and competing interests around one table to create consensus ideas and viable suggestions for sustainable development. The NRTEE focuses on sustaining Canada’s prosperity without borrowing resources from future generations or compromising their ability to live securely. The Round Table is an independent policy advisory agency that advises the Government of Canada on sustainable development solutions. It raises awareness among Canadians and their governments about the challenges of sustainable development and advocates for positive change. It strives to promote credible and impartial policy solutions that are in the best interest of all Canadians.
Tags: environment, economy, policy
The Natural Step Network
The Natural Step is a non-profit organization founded in Sweden in 1989 by scientist Karl-Henrik Robèrt. Following publication of the Brundtland Report in 1987, Robèrt developed The Natural Step framework, setting out the system conditions for the sustainability of human activities on Earth; Robèrt’s four system conditions are derived from the laws of thermodynamics. The Natural Step has also pioneered a “Backcasting from Principles” approach meant to advance society towards greater sustainability.
Tags: sustainability, advocacy, community
Net Impact is a nonprofit membership organization for students and professionals interested in using business skills in support of various social and environmental causes. It serves both a professional organization and one of the largest student organizations among MBAs in the world. From its central office in San Francisco, the organization supports over 200 autonomous volunteer-run chapters and a membership base of over 10,000, with programs and networking events centered on topics such as corporate social responsibility, social entrepreneurship, nonprofit management, international development, and environmental sustainability.
Tags: nonprofit, social, community, entrepreneurship
Network for Business Innovation and Sustainability (NBIS)
NBIS provides Businesses and Professionals who are serious about Profitable Sustainability with the connections, skills, tools, programs, and resources that are vital for success in the Green Economy.
Tags: business, entrepreneurship, economy
Northwest Earth Institute (NWEI)
The Northwest Earth Institute is a nonprofit organization in Portland, Oregon, committed to “inspiring people to take responsibility for Earth.” Started in 1993 by native Oregonians Jeanne and Dick Roy, the Northwest Earth Institute develops and implements programs designed to motivate and empower individuals and organizations to take action toward a sustainable future. Their hallmark program is a series of eight discussion courses that are designed to be used by small groups and self-facilitated. These discussion courses address various topics related to the environment and sustainable living and aim to motivate people to explore their personal attitudes and values and positively change their behaviors affecting the earth.
Tags: environment, conservation, education
Northwest EcoBuilding Guild
The Northwest EcoBuilding Guild is a 501(c)(3) community of builders, designers, suppliers, homeowners, and partners concerned with ecological building in the Pacific Northwest. The Guild was founded in 1993 by a small group of professionals already incorporating green building ideas into their practices. They formed the Guild in order to network, learn and exchange ideas related to their areas of expertise. The Guild has now grown to seven chapters serving the diverse bioregions of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia.
Tags: nonprofit, building, construction, trade
Organic Farming Research Foundation
CCOF founded the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) in 1990 to fund the educational objectives of CCOF and on-farm research of organic growing practices. Today, as a separate entity from CCOF, OFRF is widely recognized as a leader in the worldwide organic community, having awarded more than $1 million to organic farming research and public education projects since 1990.
Tags: farming, agriculture, organic, education
Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center (PPRC)
The Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center (PPRC) is a nonprofit organization serving the states of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington and the province of British Columbia, as well as the rest of North America. Created in 1990, the PPRC works to protect public health, safety and the environment by supporting projects that result in pollution prevention and toxics use elimination and reduction. The PPRC World Wide Web provides users with a variety of information. Users can access the site using a standard web browser, and choose from a variety of pollution prevention related information links at the site.
Tags: pollution, environment, advocacy, policy
Rocky Mountain Institute
Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) is an organization in the United States dedicated to research, publication, consulting, and lecturing in the general field of sustainability, with a special focus on profitable innovations for energy and resource efficiency. RMI was established in 1982 and has grown into a broad-based institution with 85 staff and an annual budget of some $13 million. RMI’s work is independent and non-adversarial, with a strong emphasis on market-based solutions. The work of RMI has benefited more than 80 Fortune 500 companies in a diverse range of sectors. RMI is headquartered in Snowmass, Colorado, and also maintains offices in Boulder, Colorado.
Tags: energy, environment, policy
The Sierra Club is the oldest, largest, and most influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892, in San Francisco, California, by the conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president. The Sierra Club has hundreds of thousands of members in chapters located throughout the US, and is affiliated with Sierra Club Canada.
Tags: environment, conservation, advocacy
The Sightline Institute (formerly Northwest Environment Watch) is an independent, non-profit organization based in Seattle, Washington, U.S.. Focusing on environmental policy, it was founded in 1993 by activist and author Alan Durning. Its stated mission is to “make the Northwest a global model of sustainability—strong communities, a green economy, and a healthy environment”. The Institute’s “Cascadia Scorecard”, published every year since 2004, scores the Pacific Northwest bioregion on measurable progress towards sustainability in seven areas: health, economy, population, energy, sprawl, wildlife, and pollution. Other publications have focused on environmental tax shift proposals, and “Seven Wonders for a Cool Planet: Everyday Things to Help Solve Global Warming”, published by Sierra Club Books.
Tags: environment, climate, policy
Social Venture Network (SVN)
The Social Venture Network (SVN) is a network of socially responsible business leaders committed to building a just and sustainable world through socially and environmentally sustainable business. As of 2007, SVN has over 430 members in the United States. SVN was founded in 1987 by Joshua Mailman, Wayne Silby and Richard Perl.
Tags: social, community, environment, advocacy
Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE)
Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education or (SARE) is a part of the USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service. SARE is a granting organization that tries to promote environmentally friendly agriculture and help small farmers become more profitable. Having profitable small farms is an important key to revitalizing rural communities.
Tags: agriculture, farming, environment, research
Sustainable Northwest was established in 1994 by concerned political leaders from Oregon and Idaho who saw the need for a non-partisan entity that could help find solutions to the environmental, economic and social challenges faced by citizens, leaders, and communities in the Northwest.
Tags: environment, economy, community, policy
Sustainable Seattle is a non-profit organization that promotes sustainability in the Central Puget Sound. It was officially founded as a non-profit in 1991 by a small group of six people who quickly became twelve. Sustainable Seattle was the first organization to create regional indicators for sustainability. Sustainable Seattle’s indicator work influenced many cities and groups around the world. Sustainable Seattle is acknowledged as a world-leader in sustainability indicators based on citizens’ values and goals for their communities. Redefining Progress surveyed over 170 sustainability projects around the country and found that more than 90 of them used Sustainable Seattle as a model for their own initiatives.
Tags: nonprofit, community, advocacy
U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), co-founded by Mike Italiano, David Gottfried and Rick Fedrizzi in 1993, is a non-profit trade organization that promotes sustainability in how buildings are designed, built, and operated. USGBC is best known for the development of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating systems and Greenbuild, a green building conference and expo that promotes the green building industry, including environmentally responsible materials, sustainable architecture techniques and public policy.
Tags: nonprofit, construction, policy
Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)
The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is a nonprofit science advocacy group based in the United States. The UCS membership includes many private citizens in addition to professional scientists. James J. McCarthy, Alexander Agassiz Professor of Biological Oceanography at Harvard University and past president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, currently chairs the UCS Board of Directors.
Tags: nonprofit, advocacy, policy
WiserEarth.org is a user-generated online community space for the social and environmental movement, tracking the work of non-profits around the world. The site maps and connects non-governmental organizations (NGOs), businesses, governments, groups and individuals addressing global issues such as climate change, poverty, the environment, peace, water, hunger, social justice, conservation, human rights and more. WISER is an acronym for World Index of Social and Environmental Responsibility. WiserEarth.org is the primary program of the non-profit organization WiserEarth.
Tags: social, community, environment, networking
World Green Building Council
An official Green Building Council (GBC) is national non-profit, non-government organization that is part of a global network recognized by the World Green Building Council. GBC’s are “transparent, consensus-based, not-for-profit coalition-based organizations with no private ownership and diverse and integrated representation from all sectors of the property industry;” and their overarching goal is promote a transformation of the built environment towards one that is sustainable (buildings and cities that are environmentally sensitive, economically viable, socially just and culturally significant).
Tags: building, policy, environment
Founded in 1974 by Lester Brown, the Worldwatch Institute is a globally focused environmental research organization based in Washington, D.C. Worldwatch was named as one of the top ten sustainable development research organizations by Globescan Survey of Sustainability Experts. It aims to inform policymakers and the public about the complex links between the world economy and its environmental support systems. Research conducted by the Institute is integrative or interdisciplinary in nature and global in scope.
Tags: environment, policy, thinktank