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Learn about our programs designed to advance innovative solutions.

Research and Innovation

We forge new ideas and interventions that advance the health and wellbeing of people, animals, and the planet.

Phoenix Zones Initiative offers evidence-based thought leadership, expertise, and bold ideas together with our academic, corporate, and global partners.

Thought Leadership

Editorial Leadership and Trailblazing Scholarship

Phoenix Zones Initiative publishes pioneering pieces in academic journals and other high impact outlets, and we provide a platform for others to publish innovative ideas.

As a member of the Harvard FXB Health and Human Rights Consortium, we helped publish a special section in the Health and Human Rights Journal on ecological justice and the right to health, highlighting the connections between human, animal, and planetary health and wellbeing. Our president, Dr. Hope Ferdowsian, served as a guest editor for the journal issue.

Papers address:

  • intersections between ecological justice and the right to health;
  • relationships between the social, economic, and legal treatment of humans, other animals, and the environment;
  • how international frameworks such as One Health and the Sustainable Development Goals could better address the right to health for people and animals; and
  • the potential influence of expansive rights frameworks, including the inclusion of nonhuman rights, on human health outcomes.

Read more in the Health and Human Rights Journal.

technical consultation

Technical Expertise

Tailored Guidance

Phoenix Zones Initiative offers tailored technical expertise for public and private organizations that wish to craft policies and practices to improve the interconnected health and wellbeing of people, animals, and the planet.

Our expert team has provided invited guidance for the United Nations High-Level Expert Panel on Sustainable Development, the UN Environment Program, UN Member States, nonprofit organizations, academic institutions, and private corporations.

International Recognition

Phoenix Zones Initiative is an accredited organization of the UN Environment Program and holds special consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council.

Contact Catherine Broussard at if you’re interested in receiving technical expertise.

Groundbreaking Social, Economic, and Legal Initiatives

Modern Economic Tools

Phoenix Zones Initiative advocates for more ambitious economic frameworks that acknowledge the right to a healthy and safe home, community, and environment.

Phoenix Zones Initiative has created a new tool designed to go beyond GDP as an indicator of global wellness. Because our most cherished assets can’t be measured in dollars.

Our research has shown a need for impact assessment tools and metrics that can be used by professionals, advocates, and policy makers to determine the impact of proposed or existing policies and practices on the rights, health, and wellbeing of people, animals, and the environment.

We work with economic experts and other professionals to develop these metrics and tools, which move beyond GDP to measure progress in a way that aligns with our most cherished values and aspirations.

Learn more about our free tools that go beyond GDP.

Going Beyond GDP: As a society, we cannot know if circumstances are improving unless we compare them with the past. Since the early twentieth century, leaders in politics, economics, and other fields have commonly referred to economic metrics such as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to assess progress. However, GDP does not count activity in which money is not exchanged—what is often called the informal economy—and it discounts fundamental aspects of progress. By focusing on commodification, a sole emphasis on GDP can cause harm to people, animals, and the environment.

Progress can be measured by how governments, industries, and communities treat the most vulnerable, including historically marginalized populations. Increasingly, threats to progress—including the climate emergency, pandemics, chronic diseases, patterns of violence, and other public health threats—can be traced to the maltreatment of people, animals, and our shared planet.

No one should be abused or exploited for someone else’s economic interests.

A lazuli bunting sings from a branch--public health officials need to center ecological health in policy and practice

National Commission on Research Ethics

Phoenix Zones Initiative and George Washington University Law School’s Animal Legal Education Initiative have partnered toward the development of a national commission to improve ethical standards in research, work towards the reduction and elimination of the use of animals in research, and enhance scientific inquiry.

Phoenix Zones Initiative partners with a leading academic center to advance ethics and science.

The work of the commission is modeled after the work of the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research, which produced The Belmont Report. The Belmont Report advanced key protections for human subjects of research through well-established ethical principles: respect for autonomy (agency), beneficence (doing good), nonmaleficence (avoiding harm), and justice (fairness). The report laid the groundwork for research policies that require informed consent, risk-benefit assessments, and special protections for vulnerable populations.

Findings and reports of the private commission will be distributed to the public, policy makers, professionals, the media, and other stakeholders.

Read about the importance of The Belmont Report and a Belmont Report for animals.

Watch our short video to learn more about The Belmont Report and a Belmont Report for animals.

A Brief History of Human and Animal Research Policy: Fortunately, we now have real research protections for human subjects of biomedical and behavioral research, including for vulnerable populations such as children. But these protections weren’t always in place. Despite an unjust history plagued by racism, sexism, and ableism, human research has become more ethical. In 1974, the US Congress established the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research, which published a document called The Belmont Report five years later.

At the time, The Belmont Report changed the conduct of human research and it led to informed consent requirements, mandatory assessments of the risks and benefits of research, and special protections for vulnerable populations such as children and incarcerated persons.

Using a broad framework of justice, The Belmont Report highlighted the importance of avoiding actual and potential harms—particularly in research involving individuals who cannot provide consent or those who could be targeted because of their vulnerabilities in society. The Belmont Report revolutionized human research, although its call for justice and avoiding harm have yet to be fully realized—in part because of an over reliance on animal experiments rather than human-centered advances in technology.

Today, some of the most problematic research practices involve animals. Millions of animals—including dogs, cats, nonhuman primates, and many other species of small and large animals—are used in research each year. A growing number of doctors, scientists, and policymakers question the validity and reliability of applying knowledge gained from animal experiments to human ailments, as well as the risks poor science poses to vulnerable human patients and populations. Fortunately, although they have yet to be fully implemented, there are more ethical, patient-relevant tools that can be used to study disease and therapeutic interventions. Still, approximately half of the budget of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funds animal experimentation. Members of the tax-paying public have scarce access to reports on how those public funds are spent, and whether these investments contribute to improved medical science or the prevention and eradication of major diseases and disorders.

We believe it is time to consider how the ethical framework set forth in The Belmont Report applies to animals. Our efforts to reexamine the principles outlined in The Belmont Report and related documents also prompt a reevaluation of human research, including the need to further enhance protections for those who are most vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.

A Transformative Institute

Phoenix Zones Initiative is developing a new institute—the first of its kind—to build and support a workforce equipped to simultaneously advance human and nonhuman rights, health, and justice.

Rights are inseparable from health, and health depends on justice.

The Institute will offer classes and workshops, leadership training, and conferences and publications that promote cross-sectoral collaboration among health, science, legal, and other students and professionals.

Together, we can do more.

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Support the Institute by donating to Phoenix Zones Initiative.

Over the relatively short period that Phoenix Zones Initiative has been around, it has accomplished SO MUCH—editing special journal editions, hosting a webinar series featuring top-notch experts, offering trainings to groups of students, providing testimony to the World Health Organization, working on policy initiatives, and so much more. And through all of this, they have built a community of brilliant and caring individuals who will surely make ours a kinder, more just world. —Dr. Alka Chandna, Phoenix Zones Initiative Sustainer

To support these efforts as a Sustainer, Ally, Innovator, or Visionary, donate today or contact us at

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