Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions
About the Nicholas Institute
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About the Nicholas Institute

Who We Are

The Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability at Duke University accelerates solutions to critical energy and environmental challenges, advancing a more just, resilient, and sustainable world. 

The Nicholas Institute conducts and supports actionable research and undertakes sustained engagement with policymakers, businesses, and communities—in addition to delivering transformative educational experiences to empower future leaders. The Nicholas Institute’s work is aligned with the Duke Climate Commitment, which unites the university’s education, research, operations, and external engagement missions to address the climate crisis.

Core Programs

The Nicholas Institute is comprised of four multidisciplinary programs focused on helping decision makers weigh the risks and rewards of policy choices.

Other Research Efforts

Beyond our programs, the following efforts deepen our engagement with the policy world and Duke University’s commitment to “knowledge in the service of society.”

Illuminating Hidden Harvests

Millions of metric tons of fish from the small-scale fisheries sector are hidden (unreported). This was shown in the study Hidden Harvest: The Global Contribution of Capture Fisheries synthetized in 2012 by the FAO, the World Bank and WorldFish. Currently, the FAO and WorldFish, through the FISH research program, are again collecting unreported small-scale fisheries information and data, this time in partnership with Duke University under a new project called Illuminating Hidden Harvests. Data and knowledge generated by the research will contribute to effective decision-making on small-scale fisheries by policymakers and enable fishing communities and advocates to make a strong case for support in the sector. In this way, the research supports implementation of the SSF Guidelines and progress towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Internet of Water Coalition

The Internet of Water Coalition (IoW) is a project currently housed at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability, managed by a small startup team and supported by grants from several philanthropic organizations. By 2021, the IoW project was a self-sustaining network managed by a non-profit organization, university, or public benefit corporation. The IoW envisions a world engaged in sustainable water resource management and stewardship enabled by open, shared, and integrated water data and information. The components of the IoW already exist (producers, hubs, and users), but the work of sharing and integrating data between them is not a primary mission for any of them. But the mission of the IoW is to build a dynamic and voluntary network of communities and institutions to facilitate the opening, sharing, and integration of water data and information.

James E. Rogers Energy Access Project at Duke University

The James E. Rogers Energy Access Project at Duke University is a research and policy effort that aims to address the challenges around increasing access to modern energy solutions to underserved populations around the world. It takes an interdisciplinary approach to developing sustainable, modern energy for all. Key Duke collaborators in this effort include the Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability, the Duke University Energy Initiative, the Sanford School of Public PolicyBass Connections, and the Nicholas School of the Environment.

National Ecosystem Services Partnership

The National Ecosystem Services Partnership engages both public and private individuals and organizations to enhance collaboration within the ecosystem services community and to strengthen coordination of policy and market implementation and research at the national level.


The Nicholas Institute is housed on Science Drive on Duke University's campus, but also has presence in Duke's Washington, DC, office. 


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