Future Earth Interim Director announced

Professor Frans Berkhout will lead the implementation of Future Earth

The International Council for Science (ICSU), on behalf of the Science and Technology Alliance for Global Sustainability, announced today that Professor Frans Berkhout will be the Interim Director of Future Earth.

Professor Berkhout will lead the implementation of Future Earth – bringing existing and new research communities and stakeholders together to deliver solutions-oriented knowledge for global sustainability.

He will take up his 18 month role on July 1, 2013.  By the time he completes his mandate, Future Earth will be fully operational, with a permanent, regionally-distributed programme secretariat in place.

“Making transitions to sustainability is one of the biggest challenges humanity faces today,” said Berkhout.  “Delivering the scientific knowledge to make that transition is a complex and challenging task. Future Earth offers unprecedented opportunities to rally scientists and other stakeholders around this common goal. I look forward to working closely with the scientific community to make that a reality and am honoured by the trust the Alliance has placed in me,” he added.

Professor Berkhout is an outstanding social scientist based at the Department of Geography, King’s College London, with a broad portfolio of research interests and expertise, ranging from science and technology policy to global environmental change.  He will spend 80% of his time as Future Earth Interim Director.

“I am delighted that Frans Berkhout has accepted this appointment to become the Interim Director of Future Earth,” said Professor Yuan Tseh Lee, President of ICSU and Nobel Laureate. “As Director of the Institute for Environmental Studies at the VU University in Amsterdam, he successfully led a major research organization through a period of change and into a new era focused on excellence, interdisciplinarity and science for impact,” Lee added.

“With his breadth of experience across scientific disciplines and his excellent communications skills, I am supremely confident he will steer Future Earth through this critical transition phase and sow the seeds for making the Future Earth vision of providing solutions-oriented research for society a reality.”

Madame Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO said “Future Earth is an ambitious research endeavour which is much needed to build the knowledge base on which to take informed decisions about global environmental and social challenges. The world is faced with the quest for answers to the adverse impacts of global change, including climate change and the planet’s biodiversity crisis. Under the able direction of Prof. Berkhout I am sure that Future Earth will accelerate the partnership between the research community and stakeholders to deliver the knowledge so urgently needed. UNESCO stands ready to continue supporting Future Earth for the benefit of the international community.”

About Professor Frans Berkhout

Professor Berkhout earned his Ph.D. in Science and Technology Policy Studies in 1989 from the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom and from 1999 to 2004 was involved in leading a number of research programmes on global change and sustainability for the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council. From 2004 to 2012 he was the Director of the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) at the VU University Amsterdam and was from 2010 to 2013 director of the Amsterdam Global Change Institute.  Between 2004 and 2011, he chaired the Industrial Transformation project of the International Human Dimensions Project.

He is a lead author in Working Group 2 of the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and holds a number of other scientific and policy advisory roles.