Founded in 1982, the World Resources Institute (WRI) describes itself as "an environmental think tank that goes beyond research to find practical ways to protect the earth and improve people's lives." Former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Russell Train, who was the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Board Chairman and a Rockefeller Foundation Board member, was instrumental in securing $15 million in seed money from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, plus $10 million more from the Andrew K. Mellon Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, to launch WRI.
Other WRI founders include: ecologist George Woodwell, who established the Environmental Defense Fund and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC); physicist Murray Gell-Mann, a former Director of the MacArthur Foundation; and WRI's first President, James Gustave Speth, who co-founded NRDC, was a member of Bill Clinton's White House transition team, and now heads the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
WRI was meant to be "a major center for policy research and analysis addressed to global resource and environmental issues." Its annual revenue is now nearly $20 million, and its assets total approximately $45 million, of which $34.9 million is invested in securities, according to recent IRS disclosures and WRI's annual report. WRI boasts that it "has a staff of 150 professionals from more than 20 nations, connected to a network of advisors, collaborators, international fellows, and partner institutions in more than 50 countries."
According to the WRI website, the organization's objectives are to: "provide objective information and practical proposals for policy changes that will foster environmentally sound development"; and to combat "[t]he most serious of the world's environmental threats -- deforestation, desertification, and global climate change." In order to accomplish the latter, WRI recommends that the U.S. cede environmental decision-making to the United Nations because environmental "challenges" are "more global in scope and international in implication."
Much of WRI's work has been geared toward addressing the alleged dangers of global warming, and the group urges U.S. acceptance of the Kyoto Protocol. WRI President Jonathan Lash, a former NRDC lawyer, has advised European governments on how to seduce Russia into implementing Kyoto in order to force U.S. acceptance of it.
WRI also collaborates biennially with the UNDP and the UN Environment Program to publish its "World Resources" reports. WRI claims these reports reach as many as 80,000 "government officials, academics, non-governmental organizations, [and] representatives of international institutions and industry," as well as the media and other opinion-shapers around the world. Each report focuses on one environmental "problem," which it exhaustively describes, and for which it then proposes a "solution." These reports generally blame capitalism for many of the problems that plague humanity and the natural world. As the Capital Research Center explains, the WRI position is that "[t]he environment is degraded by a global 'economic system that rewards exploitation' and leads to 'an inequitable distribution of property and power over natural resources … [P]rivatization often leads to greater public exclusion … since it shifts ownership -- and therefore control -- to corporations and other actors that do not have to answer to the general public.'"
WRI is also "leading the charge to politicize management education" with its Beyond Grey Pinstripes program, notes James Sheehan, an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. "[S]ocial planners believe business schools are ideal places to indoctrinate future managers and executives. By infusing MBA students with leftwing attitudes, these social planners envision a future corporate America devoid of scandal and committed to ideals other than profit."
WRI's Board of Directors includes former EPA administrator William D. Ruckelshaus, who was responsible for the 1972 DDT ban and had ties to the Environmental Defense Fund; NRDC's Frances Beinecke; and former Clinton administration Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman.
The tax-exempt WRI relies heavily on taxpayer-funded advocacy, receiving nearly one-fourth of its financing from the U.S. government. In recent years WRI has received an average of $2.7 million in annual government funding, with an all-time high topping $5 million in 1998. Its biggest government benefactor has been the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), WRI has used EPA global warming grants to help promote the Kyoto global warming treaty. According to the CEI's James Sheehan, "The World Resources Institute was given $150,000 to demonstrate how the climate treaty would improve public health." In addition to the EPA, WRI also receives financial backing from the Agriculture Department, the Department of Energy, the National Space and Aeronautics Association, and the State Department's U.S. Agency for International Development.
WRI receives additional funding from the AT&T Foundation, the Bauman Family Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Energy Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Pew Charitable Trusts, the Prospect Hill Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Summit Foundation, the Surdna Foundation, the Turner Foundation, and numerous others.