Professor William Solecki receives the
2020 AAG Gilbert White Distinguished Public Service Honor

Each year, the American Association of Geographers (AAG) invites nominations for AAG Honors to be conferred in recognition of outstanding contributions to the advancement or welfare of the profession. The AAG Honors Committee is charged with making award recommendations for each category, with no more than two awards given in any one category. This year, the AAG Honors Committee and the AAG Council are pleased to announce the following AAG Honorees to be recognized during the 2020 AAG Annual Meeting Awards Luncheon.

The 2020 Gilbert White Distinguished Public Service Honors is awarded to William Solecki for his outstanding work to improve the human condition through direct community engagement, wide-ranging public service, and salient, cutting-edge research. Solecki’s work sits at the nexus of geographic inquiry, social justice, and environmental policy. His work has transformed our understanding of the opportunities and obstacles of urban living in a changing natural environment, and has been deeply influential across communities and organizations.

Of particular note is Solecki’s deft ability to work at multiple geographic scales among myriad organizations to advance our understanding of, and ability to respond effectively to, climate change. At a local scale, Solecki has co-chaired the New York City Panel on Climate Change, served as the Director of the CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities, served as the interim Director of the Science and Resilience Institute @ Jamaica Bay, and led several climate impact studies in the greater New York and New Jersey region. At a national scale, Solecki served as the coordinating lead author for chapters in the 2014 (Chapter 11: Urban, Infrastructure, and Vulnerability) and 2018 (Chapter 18: Northeast) U.S. National Climate Assessment reports. Internationally, Solecki has been involved in Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change since 2006 and has made numerous contributions to the IPCC’s assessments of climate change impacts, vulnerability and adaptation for communities. He served as a contributing author for three chapters in the Fourth Assessment Report, as a lead author for the Urban Areas chapter in the Fifth Assessment Report, as a lead author for the Decision-Making Options for Managing Risk chapter in the Sixth Assessment Report, and as a coordinating lead author of the Framing and Context chapter of the IPCC Special Report Global Warming of 1.5oC.

In addition to his extensive scholarly research and many contributions to climate change assessments, Solecki is co-founder of the Urban Climate Change Research Network, co-editor of Current Opinion on Environmental Sustainability, and founding editor of the Journal of Extreme Events. He currently maintains numerous collaborative projects around the world. In 1975, Gilbert White wrote “that the human race is a family that has inherited a place on the earth in common, that its members have an obligation to work toward sharing it so that none is deprived of the elementary needs for life, and that all have a responsibility to leave it undegraded for those who follow (Stewardship of the Earth, p. 403-404). William Solecki is awarded the 2020 Gilbert White Distinguished Public Service Honors for his unfettered devotion to those basic principles and his ability to put them into action.

Excerpts reprinted from