The Global



Climate change, water scarcity, and the collapse of fisheries are just a few of the signs that humans are exceeding the planet’s natural resource limits. While generally conceptualized as separate issues, these global challenges are all symptoms of a larger problem, the collective overuse of the Earth’s ecological capital and systems. This overarching issue of over consuming the planet’s available natural resources is known as the Global Sustainability Challenge.

The Global Sustainability Challenge is one of most pressing problems that society faces today. Human life, along with all of our economic and societal activities, is inextricably dependent on adequate and healthy biophysical systems. However, the scale of human activities and factors, such as continuing population growth, growing social inequalities, and environmental degradation, are placing tremendous stress on the Earth’s biosphere inhibiting sustainable development.

In order for society to be truly sustainable, ongoing resource demands must be less than, or at least in balance with, natural resource supplies. This means that society not only has to learn how to use resources more efficiently, but also stipulates that society considers the issue of resource sufficiency.

Ultimately, a fundamental shift in how people perceive natural resources and services is required in order to ensure an equitable and viable future. As the choices society makes today will determine the legacy civilization leaves behind for future generations, it is imperative humanity takes action and finds a balance between natural resource production and consumption.

In the section below, you will find an ongoing selection of curated content from around the world to help us understand the most pressing issues and highlight innovative solutions to the global sustainability challenge. Come back soon for more updates!

EFI Launches New Website and Content Program.

Welcome to our new website! We are in the middle of an exciting phase at EFI! Our team will be busy developing and curating quality content that reflects up-to-date trends in sustainability. As in the last 30 years of EFI’s history, we will continue to be guided by our core approach to understand, recognize, integrate, and apply information to solutions for a better planet.

Some of the features we will be showcasing in the next few weeks include:
-25 modules on issues in sustainability, developed and refined over 30 years of work and experience at EFI.
-An ongoing selection of curated content from around the world to help us understand the most pressing issues and highlight innovative solutions to the global sustainability challenge.
-A series on core concepts in sustainability delivered through social media.
-A series of book reviews and interviews to highlight some of the most critical and inspiring work from our network of friends in and outside academia.

We will also have regular updates delivered to your email to keep you abreast of the latest policy and on-the-ground solutions in sustainability and climate change. Sign up for our mailing list!

Finally, later this Fall, we will be upgrading our library of high school and college-level course materials, used over the years at Virginia Commonwealth University and by other partners, to an interactive, distance-learning platform (get in touch with us if you would like learn more about how to license EFI’s materials).

EFI’s Sustainable Societies at VCU.

Our Sustainable Societies Course is now the gateway course for the Certificate in Sustainable Innovation at Virginia Commonwealth University.

The Certificate in Sustainable Innovation is designed to provide students in any VCU baccalaureate program the option of adding a formal certificate program in sustainability and sustainable approaches to problem-solving. The Certificate in Sustainable Innovation will use a systems-thinking approach to problems of sustainability across all of the academic disciplines. 

Volunteer with EFI

At EFI we are committed to helping people become agents of positive change. Your contribution of treasure, talent or time would be wonderful.
We are seeking volunteers who are interested in conducting research in the 25 areas of sustainability (see our 25-issue matrix); we need designers and illustrators; and we also need social media-savvy folks interested in learning the ropes of fundraising online. We have teams in Washington, DC and Richmond, VA, but we also have a robust platform for remote collaboration if you are located beyond. Interested? Contact us at

Learn About Sustainable Societies Africa at EFI

As Africa and the world come to realize the nature of our interwoven environmental, social, and economic challenges, we all awake to the importance of hope. Sustainable Societies in Africa: Modules on Education for Sustainable Development provides a real foundation for hope and optimism as we work together to create a sustainable Africa.

Learn about EFI’s Global Sustainable Societies course. 

Global Sustainable Societies is a survey of the full range of global social, economic and environmental sustainability issues and trends. This course results in significantly increased awareness and understanding of global sustainability challenges and the types of solutions being used to tackle them.

Explore the 25-Issue Matrix.

EFI’s education programs use a systems-thinking methodology that combines an examination of the twenty-five, most critical social, economic and environmental issues that will drive global change with personal skills development.

Sustainable RVA

SRVA is a growing number of community members in the Richmond, VA area who believe that to become a more equitable, healthy, prosperous, and sustainable region, an aspirational vision needs to be articulated, as well as a plan for how to implement that vision. SRVA’s purpose is to define social, economic and environmental goals for the region, identify strategies to reach those goals, and serve as a coordinating agent for the implementation of those strategies. Read more here.