Johan Rockström Joins Conservation International as Chief Scientist

September 10, 2018

Rockström will provide strategic scientific guidance in support of Conservation International’s mission to combat climate change by protecting forests and oceans; applying innovation to conservation science; and developing holistic, scalable models of sustainability. Rockström will serve as chief scientist for Conservation International probono. This position will also provide support for research at the Potsdam Institute. Rockström will become Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) later this month, together with the highly renowned climate economist Ottmar Edenhofer. The Potsdam Institute is one of Europe’s leading scientific institutions for climate change and sustainability research.

“We are thrilled that Johan Rockström will help guide us at Conservation International,” Sanjayan said. “I have long been an admirer of his astonishing body of work and his expertise and leadership have never been more important to the future of the planet.”

“Johan is an inspiration, not only for research but also his ability to communicate and make change in the world,” said Mike Mascia, Senior Vice President of Conservation International’s Moore Center for Science. “I look forward to working with Johan and our teams of researchers to take Conservation International’s world-class science to even greater heights. Together we can advance knowledge and actions needed to mobilize the global community to protect nature as it is integral to the future of humanity.”

“Science is clear that the future of Humanity on Earth is threatened by continued unsustainable development. It is equally clear that transformations to a prosperous and equitable future are possible, but it will require stewardship of the entire planet, from local ecosystems to the climate system,” said Rockström. “Conservation International and the Potsdam Institute on Climate Impact Research each have their own way of rising to this grand challenge — science has to be the solid basis for informed action to protect people’s livelihoods.”

Rockström, together with Paris Agreement architect Christiana Figueres, is expected to keynote the Thursday, September 13 official opening session of the Global Climate Action Summit. Just prior to that, on the evening of September 12, Rockström and Figueres will headline a private dinner hosted by Conservation International on natural climate solutions. Figueres is a Lui-Walton Distinguished Fellow with Conservation International.

Rockström joins Conservation International as a leading international scholar establishing the nine “planetary boundaries” that together provide a “safe operating space for humanity.” The research, popularized by Rockström’s 2010 TED Talk, has served as a guide for sustainable development by the United Nations, governments, NGOs and companies across the globe.

“Johan’s groundbreaking work on planetary boundaries made it crystal clear that only a radical transformation of key economic systems can safeguard the global commons on which all life on Earth depends,” said Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility. “A true champion of the global environment, Johan’s appointment is great news for Conservation International, and for everyone working to protect the future of our planet and human well-being.”

Rockström’s research has been published in over 100 journals and includes the recent “Hothouse Earth” paper published by Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences. He is also the author of four books: “The Human Quest” (2012) and “Big World, Small Planet” (2015) with National Geographic photographer Mattias Klum, and “Water Resilience for Human Prosperity” (2014) and “Bankrupting Nature” (2012) co-authored with Swedish writer and politician Anders Wijkman.

Before joining as Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) he was the founding director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre (2007–2018) and prior to that the Director of the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) (2004–2012).

Rockström’s media appearances include the documentary “Before the Flood” (2016) and two TED Talks: “How we can all become responsible stewards of Planet Earth” (2013), and “Let the environment guide our development” (2010). His op-eds have appeared in newspapers including The Guardian and Svenska Dagbladet.

A recipient of numerous honors and awards, Rockström has been a Laureate at the Hillary Institute of International Leadership, a Knight of the Legion of Honour (French distinction), and awardee of the 2015 German Environmental Award (Deutsche Umweltpreis). He also received the International Cosmos Prize and Zoological Society of London Award for Conservation Innovation, among others.

Johan Rockström completed his Ph.D. in Ecology at Stockholm University.

About Conservation International

Conservation International uses science, policy and partnerships to protect the nature that people rely on for food, fresh water and livelihoods. Founded in 1987, Conservation International works in more than 30 countries on six continents to ensure a healthy, prosperous planet that supports us all. Learn more about Conservation International, the groundbreaking “Nature Is Speaking” campaign and its series of virtual reality projects: “My Africa”, “Under the Canopy” and “Valen’s Reef.” Follow Conservation International’s work on our Human Nature blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.