While teaching economics and working on his dissertation at the University of Rome, Francis Eric Knight Britton founded EcoPlan International in 1966, a forum of reflection and counsel on issues involving technological change. He conducted a wide range of advisory assignments and projects aimed at providing counsel to the government, business, and volunteer sectors on issues of technology, economy and society. He has served as high-level consultant to the United Nations, OECD, European Commission, ILO, Clinton Climate Initiative, and many national and regional government agencies, and as a visiting lecturer at U.S. and European universities.
A common theme in Eric’s work is the strategic adaptation of technologies, products, and institutional structures to changing technological, resource and environmental requirements. The vehicle for this work is an open cooperative founded in the early 1970s, The Commons: Open Society Sustainability Initiative.
He created more than twenty international group problem-solving networks that bring together thousands of people and groups around the world for new ideas on sustainability and long-term economic viability in cities. He is a founding editor of the Journal of World Transport Policy and Practice and of World Streets.
In 2002, Eric was awarded the prestigious World Technology Environment Prize for outstanding achievement. He was cited as “One of those outstanding innovators whose work will have the greatest likely future significance and impact over the long-term...and likely become or remain ‘key players’ in the technological drama unfolding in coming years.” That year, he served as chair of the international jury and senior advisor to the Stockholm Partnerships for Sustainable Cities. In 2000, he and Enrique Peñalosa, then mayor of Bogotá Colombia, were co-awarded the Stockholm Environment Challenge Prize for “outstanding socio-technical innovation.”
Eric studied at Amherst and Columbia College, and later the Ph.D. program of the Graduate Faculty of Economics at Columbia University. He was an Amherst and Columbia Scholar, and later in the Graduate Faculties an International Fellow, winner of the Dante Alighieri Prize, and recipient of a doctoral research grant from the Italian government as well as a Fulbright Fellowship.