We are saddened by the death of Elinor Ostrom, a longtime grantee of the foundation who in 2009 became the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences.

The foundation’s support for Ostrom’s work dates back to 1991, when she received her first Ford grant. Just last month, she participated in a foundation-sponsored forum in Mexico that focused on issues of natural resources and migration.

Ostrom’s visionary research proved that those living in rural communities are often the most effective stewards of the land, water and other natural resources. Her work spurred a paradigmatic shift in resource management and gave millions of people access to otherwise unimagined social and economic opportunities. Earlier this year, she was included on Time Magazine annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

In an article published by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on the day she died, Ostrom underscored the importance of the upcoming Rio+20 Summit, urging the assembled leaders to take action on climate change and address the urgent challenge of natural resource management. “The goal now must be to build sustainability into the DNA of our globally interconnected society,” she wrote. “Time is the natural resource in shortest supply...What we need are universal sustainable development goals on issues such as energy, food security, sanitation, urban planning and poverty eradication, while reducing inequality within the planet’s limits.”

Read tributes and remembrances from the University of Indiana, where Ostrom held the positions of senior research director of the Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis (which she and her husband founded), distinguished professor and Arthur F. Bentley professor of political science in the College of Arts and Sciences, and professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

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The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than 80 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.