Robert Goodland directed environmental and social impact assessment studies on more than 16 projects worldwide since 2001. Most of these projects are large-scale infrastructure developments with significant environmental and social consequences.
Until he retired in 2001, Goodland was lead environmental adviser to the World Bank Group where he was nicknamed “the conscience of the World Bank.” He wrote and persuaded the World Bank to adopt most of its social and environmental safeguard policies, especially the official umbrella policy on environmental assessment. He led the team compiling the World Bank’s three-volume Environmental and Social Assessment Sourcebook. He helped to design and start up the World Commission on Dams in Cape Town.
Immediately after leaving the Bank, Goodland served as technical director to the independent Extractive Industry Review of the World Bank Group’s oil, gas, and mining portfolio (2001–2004), and worked for the Inspection Panel in 2005 and 2006.
He has received a number of awards including:
- The first Coolidge Memorial Medal presented by the International Union for Nature Conservation (IUCN) for outstanding contributions to environmental conservation (2008).
- Environmental Hero Award from the Peoples Republic of China for his work on the effects of livestock on climate change (2010).
- Top prize for Excellence in Environmental and Social Assessment by the International Association for Impact Assessment.
Goodland is also a tropical ecologist. He created a Department of Ecology at the University of Brasilia, and later in Manaus he designed and ran a graduate course in applied tropical ecology. He designed and chaired the department of Environmental Assessment at the Ecosystem Center in Millbrook, New York. At the World Bank, he instituted environmental assessments of tropical development projects, and wrote most of the World Bank’s mandatory social and environmental “safeguard policies.” In addition, he served as professor at the University of Brasilia, INPA Manaus; the Organization of Tropical Studies, Costa Rica; and McGill University, Montreal.
He holds three degrees from McGill University: B.Sc. Honors Biology; M.Sc. Environmental Sciences (field research in Guyana); Ph.D. Environmental Sciences (field research in Brazil). He holds dual citizenship in the United Kingdom and Canada.