Four waves of innovation

2018 annual report

Fourth wave of innovation

Environmental progress doesn't just happen. It has been propelled by successive waves of human ingenuity, each expanding our toolkit.

Today, a Fourth Wave of environmental innovation is leveraging technological breakthroughs, unlikely partnerships, and new public policy ideas, giving people the power to take action.

  • First wave: Conservation and habitat

    1903: President Theodore Roosevelt preserves millions of acres in national parks and forests.

  • Second wave: Science and law

    1972: A series of legal actions brought by the scientists and attorney who founded EDF leads to a U.S. ban on DDT, a pesticide harmful to wildlife.

  • Third wave: Markets and partnerships

    1990: EDF designs the cap-and-trade program for acid rain and launches our first corporate partnership, with McDonald's.

  • Fourth wave: Technology and innovation

    2013: World Resources Institute begins using satellites to track Amazon deforestation nearly in real time.

Fourth Wave pioneers

The Fourth Wave allows people to take action in new ways, unleashing innovation to ensure that humankind – and the environment – can thrive. These trailblazers are at the forefront.

Tom Ingersoll
Tom Ingersoll Fighting climate change from space

Dr. Loren Raun
Dr. Loren Raun Houston, we have a solution

Brad Pettinger
Brad Pettinger Bringing fisheries into the information age

Denise Moyle
Denise Moyle A water meter in the sky