The purpose of the Center for Environmental Policy (CEP) at American University is to evaluate and improve the capacity for environmental governance in the United States. The concept of environmental governance refers to the ways in which institutions and groups in American society interact to anticipate, manage, and resolve issues related to the state of the natural environment.
Located within American University's School of Public Affairs in Washington, D.C., the Center for Environmental Policy (CEP) draws upon the resources of the University and the Washington area to bring varied perspectives, evidence, and solutions to bear on the nation's most pressing environmental problems.
CEP's work focuses on three themes that, in combination, afford it a distinctive niche among other environmental centers in the United States:
- Environmental innovation: What changes in strategies, relationships, and capacities will be necessary to cope with the existing and emerging slate of environmental challenges?
- Partnerships and collaboration: What is the role of collaboration and partnerships in national, regional, state, and local environmental governance?
- New and emerging challenges: How can existing systems for environmental governance anticipate and respond to new and emerging challenges?
The Center applies these themes to environmental issues in many ways. It:
- sponsors lectures and programs to promote exchanges of ideas, experience, and research;
- convenes dialogue sessions for engaging varied interests and experts; and
- conducts research on how different institutional approaches, policy strategies, collaborative models, and implementation tools affect environmental outcomes.
The Center's perspective is that such issues as air quality, water security, chemical use and disposal, biotechnology, habitat protection, ecosystem vitality, energy security, and climate change pose challenges that affect quality of life, human health and well-being, and economic prosperity. Focusing on its themes, the Center for Environmental Policy aims to improve the nation's ability to address these challenges through effective governance.