The Tellus Institute is a non-profit research and policy organization based in Boston, Massachusetts . Its mission is to advance the transition to a sustainable, equitable, and humane global civilization. The Tellus Institute was founded in 1976 by Richard Raskin , Richard Rosen, Stephen Bernow, and John Stutz, and David Nichols for the purpose of resource and environmental research. Dr. Paul Raskin is the President of the Institute. Initially called the Energy Systems Research Group (ESRG), the Institute adopted its current name in 1990.


Since 1976, Tellus has conducted over 3,500 resource management and environmental strategy projects throughout the world. [1] The Institute for the Evaluation of Options for Massachusetts‘ [2] [3] [4] including its 1992 Packaging study, [5] Solid Waste Master Plan, [6] and the Preliminary Analysis of the Costs and Benefits of Bottle Bills study for the US EPA. [7]

Through the years Tellus has created numerous scientific tools and reports in many different areas, including energy, water, sustainable communities , corporate social responsibility , and climate change; However, since 2005 the Institute has shifted its focus to developing a great transition vision for a sustainable future.

Research and programs

The main body of Tellus‘ current research in the application of quantitative analysis to the development of possible future scenarios.

Tellus has also launched a number of working groups and research programs:

  • The Global Scenario Group (GSG) was compiled in 1995 in order to compile a set of possible scenarios for global development in the twenty first century. Its goal is to identify a sustainable and equitable future in this set of scenarios and to isolate the policies, actions, and human choices required to achieve this scenario. Its results indicated that an environmentally sustainable, socially equitable future -which the GSG termed a „Great Transition“ -was possible. The GSG’s work culminated with the 2002 publication of Great Transition: The Promise and Lure of the Times Ahead . [8] Paul Raskin led the GSG, which consisted of more than 20 environmental scientists from across the globe. Scenarios developed by the GSG have informed theUnited Nations Environment Program’s Global Environment Outlook series, [9] and other international and national vision studies.
  • The Great Transition Initiative (GTI) was formed in 2003 to re-channel the momentum of the GSG. Its mandate is to continue the development scenario, disseminates the Great Transition vision to a larger audience, and builds a network of GTI members. It was relaunched in April 2014 as an online journal and discussion network devoted to vision and praxis around a progressive global transformation.
  • 20/20 Corporation is an initiative of Tellus focused on corporate social responsibility . Its mission is to develop and advocate the redesign of corporations so that it is profitable. Co-founded in 2004 by Allen White, Vice President of Tellus, and Marjorie Kelly, co-founder and former editor of Business Ethics 20/20, hosts a forum of leading thinkers, practitioners, and advocates who work to construct alternate visions of the corporate structure, which it then spreads to the corporate community.
  • The Global Reporting Initiative , founded by Ceres (organization) and Tellus Vice President Allen White, had the goal of developing and disseminating a standardized framework for sustainability reporting. Now, the GRI’s de facto international standard has been used by over 1,200 companies for corporate reporting on environmental, social and economic performance.
  • The Global Initiative for Sustainability Ratings (GISR) is an initiative launched by Ceres and Tellus in 2011, with the aim of developing an independent, standardized framework for sustainability ratings.
  • Boston Scenario Project was initiated in 2005 as a process for developing local scenarios for the Boston metropolitan region that mirror the global-scale scenarios described in the Great Transition essay. The project seeks to reconcile global effects with local actions in order to envision a future of sustainability, pluralism, justice, and global responsibility for the Boston region, which would also contribute to worldwide sustainability and equity. The Boston Scenario Project is coordinated by James Goldstein, Tellus Senior Fellow.


Tellus developed and uses a series of software programs in its research. These programs were designed for strategic planning and scenario analysis , allowing the user to create, evaluate, and compare alternative futures based on current data and hypothetical trends. LEAP software facilitates energy-environment planning; WEAP , water planning; WastePlan, solid waste planning; and PoleStar , sustainability planning.

Selected publications

  • Gerst, Michael, Paul Raskin, and Johan Rockström. „Contours of a Resilient Global Future.“ Sustainability 6, no. 1 (2014): 123-135, .
  • Raskin, Paul. „A Great Transition ?: Where We Stand.“ Great Transition Initiative . October 2014. .
  • Raskin, Paul. „Game On: The Basis for Hope in a Time of Despair.“ GTI Perspective Series . Boston: Tellus Institute, 2013. Available at .
  • Raskin, Paul. Journey to Earthland: The Great Transition to Planetary Civilization . Boston: Tellus Institute, 2016. Available at .
  • Raskin, Paul. World Lines: Pathways, Pivots, and the Global Futures . Boston: Tellus Institute, 2006. Available at .
  • Raskin, Paul, Tariq Banuri, Gilberto Gallopin, Pablo Gutman, Al Hammond, Robert Kates, and Rob Swart. Great Transition: The Promise and the Lure of the Times Ahead . Boston: Stockholm Environment Institute, 2002. Available at .
  • White, Allen. „Chapter 7: Reinventing the Corporation.“ State of the World 2012: Moving Toward Sustainable Prosperity . Washington, DC: Island Press, 2012. Available at .

See also

  • Sustainable development
  • Globalization
  • Global Reporting Initiative
  • Paul Raskin
  • Great Transition
  • Scenario analysis
  • Global Scenario Group


  1. Jump up^
  2. Jump up^ „Economic & Environmental Benefits of Beverage Recycling Container: The Case for Updating Massachusetts‘ Bottle Bill“ (PDF) . Retrieved 14 May 2013 .
  3. Jump up^ „Comparison of System Costs and Materials Recovery Rates: Implementation of Universal Single Stream Recycling With and Without Beverage Container Deposits – Draft Report“ (PDF) . Retrieved 14 May 2013 .
  4. Jump up^ „Michigan Bottle Bill – A Final Report to: Great Lakes Protection Fund Michigan“ (PDF) . Retrieved 14 May 2013 .
  5. Jump up^ Tellus Packaging Study – P2 InfoHouse Reference Collection
  6. Jump up^ „Assessment of Materials Management Options for the Solid Waste Master Master Plan Review“ (PDF) . Retrieved 14 May 2013 .
  7. Jump up^ „Is a National Bottle Bill Worthwhile?“ . Retrieved 14 May 2013 .
  8. Jump up^ Paul Raskin, Tariq Banuri, Gilberto Gallopin, Pablo Gutman, Robert Kates, Al Hammond, and Rob Swart,Great Transition: The Promise and Lure of the Ahead Times(Boston: Stockholm Environment Institute, 2002),http: //
  9. Jump up^ „Global Environment Outlook Scenario Framework: Background Paper for UNEP’s Third Global Environment Outlook Report“ (PDF) . Retrieved 15 May 2013 .