Professor Frans Berkhout named Interim Director of Future Earth


Prof Frans Berkhout

Prof Frans Berkhout

The International Council for Science (ICSU), on behalf of the Science and Technology Alliance for Global Sustainability, is pleased to announce that Professor Frans Berkhout will be the new Interim Director of Future Earth, a major new interdisciplinary research programme on global sustainability.

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.

“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.

“I am delighted that Frans Berkhout has accepted this appointment to become the Interim Director of Future Earth,” said Professor Yuan Tse Lee, Nobel Laureate and President of ICSU. “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.”

Prof Berkhout 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.

See the full press release for more details.

Heide Hackmann, ISSC Executive Director said of the appointment “The ISSC has worked closely with Professor Berkhout over the years, both in the context of the International Human Dimensions Programme (IHDP) and as senior editorial advisor for the 2013 World Social Science Report due to be launched later this year. His interdisciplinary background, outstanding scientific reputation and leadership skills will bring together the necessary ingredients for meeting urgent and long-standing challenges of fully integrating natural and social sciences and fostering novel approaches to solutions-oriented research for global sustainability.”