Science Committee


The Future Earth Science Committee was active from 2014 to 2017. For information on our current advisory body, see our page for the Future Earth Advisory Committee.The Science Committee ensured that Future Earth science was of the highest quality and made recommendations on new and existing projects, as well as emerging priorities for research.

The committee provided guidance on new activities for Future Earth, oversaw the transition of IGBP, IHDP and DIVERSITAS activities into Future Earth and secured a strong partnership with the WCRP community. The Science Committee comprised 18 members, including a Chair and two vice-Chairs, representing the full spectrum of global environmental change science from natural science to social sciences, humanities and engineering. Future Earth is committed to gender and geographical balance.

Mark Stafford Smith - Chair

Dr Mark Stafford Smith coordinates adaptation and global change research in CSIRO, Australia’s strategic-applied national research organisation. He oversees a highly interdisciplinary programme of research on many aspects of adapting to global change. He has more than 30 years’ experience in drylands systems ecology, management and policy, including senior roles such as Program Leader of CSIRO’s Centre for Arid Zone Research in Alice Springs, and then CEO of the Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre. During this time he was a task leader under the Global Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems core project of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP). He was also a key contributor to the AridNET international network of drylands researchers that devised the Dryland Development Paradigm. In the past decade his research focus has turned more to adaptation to climate change, particularly at the national policy level. He was an ICSU-appointed member and vice-chair of IGBP’s Scientific Committee from 2003-2009. He also served as co-chair of the “Planet Under Pressure: New Knowledge Towards Solutions” conference on global environmental change in the lead up to Rio+20 in 2012. He sits on a variety of advisory boards and is now in his second (and final) 2 year term as chair of the Science Committee.

Belinda Reyers - Vice-Chair

Belinda ReyersDr Belinda Reyers is a Chief Scientist at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Stellenbosch, South Africa where she leads the Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services Research Group. Her research, student supervision and policy inputs focus on ecosystem services: their condition, management and links to social development and poverty alleviation, as well as the implications of global change for these relationships. She is also an extraordinary Associate Professor in the Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa and a senior research fellow of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden. Dr Reyers is a Board Member of the Society for Conservation Biology: Africa Section, a Scientific Committee member of DIVERSITAS and co-chair of the working group on Ecosystem Services of the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEOBON). She has been an advisor to the South African government on biodiversity and ecosystem service targets and indicators, and supported the South African chief negotiator in the plenaries of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

Melissa Leach - Vice-Chair

Melissa Leach is Director of the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), University of Sussex, UK. Between 2006 and 2014 Melissa directed the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) STEPS (Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability) Centre ( A geographer and social anthropologist, her research in Africa and beyond has integrated social science with science-policy and natural sciences across many environmental, agricultural, health, technology and gender issues, resulting in extensive publications including the books Misreading the African Landscape (Cambridge, 1996); Reframing Deforestation (Routledge, 1998); Science, Society and Power (Cambridge, 2003); The Lie of the Land:  Challenging Received Wisdom on the African Environment (James Currey, 1996);  Dynamic Sustainabilities: Technology, Environment, Social justice (2010, Earthscan), and Green Grabbing (2012, Taylor and Francis).

She has led and managed many large, interdisciplinary research and policy engagement programmes including ‘Innovation, Sustainability, Development: A New Manifesto’ (, 2010 ongoing) and the 19-partner, Dynamic Drivers of Disease in Africa Consortium (2011 – 2015) funded by the Ecosystems Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA).

Xuemei Bai

Xuemei Bai is a Professor of Urban Environment and Human Ecology at the Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University.

Her research focuses on urban sustainability sciences, including urbanization and environmental change at local, regional and global scales, urban system spatial and temporal dynamics,  cities and climate change, urban policy and governance, the impact of urbanization on agricultural productivity and food security, and environmental policy in China. Her work has a strong focus on the Asia-Pacific region.

Professor Bai served as a Vice Chair of the International Human Dimensions Programme (IHDP) and a member of the Science Steering Committee of the IHDP Industrial Transformation Core Project. She was a Lead Author on the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and the Global Energy Assessment. She has served on several high level policy related study committees in China and Japan, and the National Academy of Sciences (USA).

Eduardo Brondizio

Eduardo S. Brondizio is Professor of Anthropology and Adjunct Professor of Environmental Sciences at Indiana University-Bloomington, United States where he chaired the Anthropology Department (2005-2012) and is associated with the Anthropological Center for Training & Research on Global Environmental Change and the Vincent & Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory & Policy Analysis. He is currently a Fellow at the Institut d'etudes avances-Paris. He is a member of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme Scientific Committee and collaborator of IHDP and DIVERSITAS.

An environmental anthropologist dedicated to longitudinal, field-based and interdisciplinary research among rural populations in the Amazon, his research also contributes to conceptual frameworks examining interactions among socioeconomic, demographic, institutional and environmental change at multiple levels. Brondizio has published extensively on land-use change and agricultural intensification, small-farmers’ livelihood, adaptation to environmental change and interactions with commodity chains, and more broadly rural development and poverty, urbanization, ecosystem services, and institutional analysis of resource systems. His current research applies complexity theory to analyze interactions among rural, urban, conservation and indigenous areas in the Amazon. He was involved with the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity, and more recently the UN’s Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

Sandra Díaz

Sandra Díaz is Professor of Community and Ecosystems Ecology at Córdoba National University and Senior Principal Researcher of the National Research Council of Argentina. She is interested in plant functional traits, their interactions with global change drivers and their effects on ecosystem properties. Recently she has had a strong influence in the development and practical implementation of the concept of functional diversity and how it affects ecosystem properties and the benefits that different people derive from them.

She was elected Foreign Associate Member of the USA National Academy of Sciences in 2009, and Member of the Academies of Sciences of the Developing World (TWAS) and of Argentina in 2010. She was awarded the Argentine Botanical Society Prize (1998), the J S Guggenheim Fellowship (2002), the Cozzarelli Prize of the USA National Academy of Sciences (2008), the Sustainability Science Award of the Ecological Society of America (2009) and the Interciencia Award of the Interciencia Association and the Canadian Government (2011). She participated in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  She is a member of the DIVERSITAS Scientific Committee, and founder and director of the international initiative Núcleo DiverSus on Diversity and Sustainability.

Kristie Ebi

Kristie L. Ebi is director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment (CHanGE) and Rohm and Haas Endowed Professor in Public Health Sciences at the University of Washington. She has conducted research and practice on the health risks of climate variability and change for 20 years, including on extreme events, thermal stress, foodborne safety and security and vectorborne diseases. She focuses on understanding sources of vulnerability, estimating current and future health risks of climate change and designing adaptation policies and measures to reduce the risks of climate change in multi-stressor environments. She has supported multiple countries in Central America, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Pacific in assessing their vulnerability and implementing adaptation measures. She also co-chairs the International Committee On New Integrated Climate change assessment Scenarios (ICONICS), facilitating development of new climate change scenarios. Dr Ebi’s scientific training includes an M.S. in toxicology, a Ph.D. and a Masters of Public Health in epidemiology and two years of postgraduate research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She has edited fours books on aspects of climate change and has more than 190 publications.

Giovana Espindola

Giovana Espindola is Professor of Remote Sensing, GIScience and Cartography at the Federal University of Piauí, Brazil, where she chairs the M.S. in Development and Environment. She completed a Ph.D. (2012) and an M.S. (2006) in Remote Sensing at the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (INPE) and received a B.Sc. (2002) in Cartography Engineering at the Brazilian Military Institute of Engineering (IME). Giovana was the Executive Officer (2012-2014) of the Global Land Project (GLP), a core-project of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP) and the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP). During this time, she promoted the advancement of the GLP scientific agenda through assisting, planning and carrying out original scientific research and synthesis of scientific literature.

Prof Dr Espindola’s research focuses on understanding the coupled human-environment system and how human activities on land are affecting feedbacks to the Earth system and the response of the human-environment system to global environmental change. She investigates land processes broadly in developing countries, and focuses specifically on tropical forest‐agriculture frontiers in the Brazilian Cerrado and Caatinga biomes and on the development of urban areas in the Northeast of Brazil and their interactions with the environment. She looks to spatiotemporal scales ranging from local case studies to national or regional analyses, with a strong focus on interdisciplinary approaches.

Heinz Gutscher

Heinz Gutscher is Professor Emeritus of Social Psychology at the University of  Zurich (UZH). His interests include the form, functions and mechanisms of social influence processes, trust and confidence, social psychological aspects of sustainability issues, risk perception and risk communication, change management, planning and evaluation of large-scale social interventions/campaigns, application of social psychological know-how in the fields of energy, mobility, consumption and acceptance of new technologies.

Until 2016, he was President of the Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences. He also acts as chair of ProClim – the Swiss Forum for Climate and Global Change. ProClim is located at the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT), the leading Swiss institution concerned with global change. He is a member of the scientific steering committee of the Swiss Biodiversity Forum, SCNAT. In all, He has worked for more than two decades with the social psychological aspects of environmental and sustainability sciences.

Tatiana Kluvankova

Tatiana Kluvankova is an ecological institutional economist and professor of management. Since 2003 she has been active in international global change research as member of the IHDP Scientific Committee (2003-2008), Standing Committee of Social Sciences, ESF (2011-2012) and vice-president of the European Society for Ecological Economics (2009-2015). She is currently a member of the international Science Board of ISEE and Faculty Member of Earth System Governance. She chairs the department of Strategic Environmental Analyses at the SPECTRA Centre of Excellence, Bratislava, and the Laboratory of Experimental Social Sciences. Prof Kluvankova is co-founder of CETIP - collaborative network, which experiments with the commons that emerged through cooperation with Prof Elinor Ostrom in 2008 and Arizona State University.

Her research focuses on transdisciplinary collaboration between natural and social sciences under the conditions of complexity and uncertainty. Current research interests include the role of commons and ecosystem service governance in triggering behavioural change for sustainability in biodiversity and climate change applied to urban areas and marginalised regions. She has published in Science, Land Use Policy, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Ecological Economics, Environment and Planning C, Biodiversity and Conservation and MIT Press. Prof Kluvankova teaches ecological economics and management of the commons at Comenius University and Slovak University of Technology and supervises 14 Ph.D. students (9 defended). She acts as a member of the IPBES expert group on “Policy support tools and methodologies” and national committee on MAES under the EEA.

Cosmas Ochieng

Cosmas Ochieng is the Executive Director of the African Centre for Technology Studies in Kenya.

Dahe Qin

Dr Dahe Qin is a glaciologist and climatologist. He is an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and of the Third World Academy of Sciences. He specializes in the study of physical processes related to the Antarctic ice sheet and snow.  He is an expert on paleontological records of climate and environment and the founder of the State Key Laboratory on Cryospheric Science. He was also Administrator of the Chinese Meteorological Administration and led the development of the Strategic Plan for Chinese Meteorological Services. He is a leading author of the third, co-chair of the fourth and fifth IPCC scientific assessment reports. 

Dr. Qin has received numerous awards and accolades during his scientific career.  He was a key contributor to the IPCC team that was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. He was the recipient of the International Meteorological Organization Prize for his outstanding scientific contribution.  He has published more than 300 scientific publications, including many peer reviewed journal articles and books.

Michelle Scobie

Michelle Scobie, Ph.D., LLB, LEC, is a lecturer and researcher at the Institute of International Relations and the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute for Social and Economic Studies at The University of the West Indies (UWI), St. Augustine, and Co-Editor of the Caribbean Journal of International Relations and Diplomacy.  She has practiced as an attorney at law in Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela.  She is a member of the Caribbean Studies Association, the International Studies Association, the University of the West Indies Oceans Governance Network and is a member of the Earth System Governance project Scientific Steering Committee. Her research areas include international law, international environmental law and developing states’ perspectives on global and regional environmental governance. She focuses particularly on the areas of: institutional architectures relating to climate change, tourism, sustainable development, marine governance, energy governance, private governance, environmental ethics and trade and environment.

Youba Sokona

Youba Sokona is currently Head of the interim Independent Delivery Unit of the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative and Special Advisor for Sustainable Development at the South Centre. With over 35 years of experience addressing energy, environment and sustainable development in Africa, Dr Sokona is a well-known, leading global figure. Reflecting his status, Dr Sokona was elected Vice-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in October 2015. Prior to this, Dr Sokona was Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III on the mitigation of climate change for the Fifth Assessment Report after serving as a Lead Author since 1990. In addition to these achievements, he has a proven track record of organisational leadership and management, for example as Coordinator of the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) and as Executive Secretary of the Sahara and the Sahel Observatory (OSS). His advice is highly sought after, and as such, he is affiliated with numerous boards and organisations, including as a Member of the Board for the Institute of Development Studies, Honorary Professor at the University College London (UCL) and as a Special Advisor to the African Energy Leaders Group. He is a global figure, with deep technical knowledge, extensive policy experience and an unreserved personal commitment to African-led development.

Suneetha Mazhenchery Subramanian

Suneetha Mazhenchery Subramanian is Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAI).

Carolina Vera

Carolina Vera is the Director of the Center for Atmosphere and Ocean Sciences (CIMA) and UMI/IFAECI, a joint institute with the University of Buenos Aires (UBA), Argentina’s National Council of Sciences (CONICET) and CNRS (France). She is also Full Professor of the School of Exact and Natural Sciences of the University of Buenos Aires.

She obtained her Ph.D. in atmospheric sciences at the University of Buenos Aires in 1992. Her current research interests focus on understanding and predicting climate variability and change in South America.

She is currently a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Inter-American Institute for Global Change (IAI). She has been an Officer member of the World Climate Research Program (WCRP) Joint Scientific Committee, Co-Chair of the WCRP/CLIVAR Panel for the Variability of the American Monsoon Systems (VAMOS), and Chair of the American Meteorological Society STAC Committee for Meteorology and Oceanography of the Southern Hemisphere.

Dr. Vera has extensive experience with integrated research projects focused on developing climate information and tools for stakeholders from different socio-economic sectors sensitive to climate (e.g. water, agriculture, health). She was a lead author for the IPCC’s Special Report on "Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation" (SREX).

Tetsuzo Yasunari

Professor Tetsuzo Yasunari is Director General of the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN) in Kyoto, Japan. He has a Ph.D in meteorology from Kyoto University. His research interests were originally in monsoon and tropical meteorology and climatology and have extended to vegetation-climate interaction, human impact on monsoon climate and inter-disciplinary environmental issues in Asia.

He was assistant professor, Center for Southeast Asian Studies of Kyoto University (1977-1982), associate and full professor of climatology at the Institute of Geoscience, University of Tsukuba (1982-2002), and professor at Hydrospheric  Atmospheric Research Center of Nagoya University (2002-2012). He also adjunctly worked as Program Director, Hydrological Cycle Research Program of the Frontier Research System for Global Change in JAMSTEC.

He conducted the GEWEX Asian Monsoon Experiment (GAME) under WCRP (1996 -2002).  He served as a member and vice-chair of the GEWEX SSG, and later a member of the Joint Scientific Committee of WCRP. He has been working as SSC member of the ESSP/MAIRS (Monsoon Asia Integrated Regional Studies), now serving as vice-chairman.  He is working as a Review Editor of of the 5th assessment report (AR-5) of the IPCC Working Ggroup 1.  He is a council member of the Science Council of Japan, and chairman of the joint Japan national committee for IGBP ,WCRP and DIVERSITAS . He has published about 200 scientific papers and books.