• A personal note on IGBP and the social sciences

    Humans are an integral component of the Earth system as conceptualised by IGBP. João Morais recalls key milestones in IGBP’s engagement with the social sciences and offers some words of advice for Future Earth.
  • IGBP and Earth observation:
    a co-evolution

    The iconic images of Earth beamed back by the earliest spacecraft helped to galvanise interest in our planet’s environment. The subsequent evolution and development of satellites for Earth observation has been intricately linked with that of IGBP and other global-change research programmes, write Jack Kaye and Cat Downy .
Published: October 2, 2014

Vacancy: Future Earth executive director

Full details available here:
International Council for Science announcement
Deadline 12 October 2014

More information:


News |

Future Earth is recruiting an Executive Director. Deadline 12 October.

Future Earth is the global research platform providing the knowledge and support to accelerate our transformations to a sustainable world.

Bringing together and in partnership with existing programmes on global environmental change, Future Earth will coordinate new, inter- and trans-disciplinary approaches to research on three themes: Dynamic Planet, Global Sustainable Development and Transformations towards Sustainability. It will also be a platform for international engagement to ensure that knowledge is generated in partnership with society and users of science. It is open to scientists of all disciplines, natural and social, as well as engineering, health, the humanities and law.

Future Earth is sponsored by the Science and Technology Alliance for Global Sustainability (‘the Alliance’) comprising the International Council for Science (ICSU), the International Social Science Council (ISSC), the Belmont Forum of funding agencies, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations University (UNU), and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

The Executive Director will head a new globally distributed secretariat, recently announced following an open competition by the Alliance, and will work closely with the scientific community, stakeholders, and members of the Future Earth governance structure. 

Key tasks include:

  • Providing visible executive leadership for Future Earth with the science community and stakeholders.
  • Driving forward Future Earth as a new research programme to meet its objectives.
  • Leading the globally distributed Future Earth secretariat supported by an executive team of global Hub Directors, and realising its full regional potential and reach.
  • Engaging the global environmental change research, user and funding communities in the further development of Future Earth.
  • Supporting existing global environmental change programmes and projects to complete the process of merging into Future Earth and to forge a strong partnership with the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP).
  • Creating funding strategies and opportunities to support Future Earth research and developing the mid- to long-term funding base, including engaging new potential funders, for example development donors, foundations and venture philanthropists.
  • Working with Alliance members to help ensure their activities make a full contribution to Future Earth and that Future Earth contributes new knowledge to Alliance members' activities; and with the Future Earth Governing Council, Science and Engagement Committees.

Skills and Experience

  • Credibility in the research and stakeholder community to provide leadership to a major international research programme, with the necessary skills in diplomacy and an extensive network.
  • Experience in a senior executive leadership role – with insights into the leadership of a geographically distributed organisation - including research, staff and change management, fundraising and science policy.
  • Track record of high-quality environmental or sustainability research, with a broad understanding of Earth system and global change research, and the policy context for Future Earth.
  • Capability to drive a new international programme forward, having previously demonstrated innovative and entrepreneurial approaches.
  • Previous experience of: co-design of research with stakeholders; working across scientific disciplines, including natural and social sciences; capacity building, working with the South and youth.
  • Excellent formal and informal, written and oral, communication skills.
  • Full command of written and spoken English; working knowledge of other languages is considered an advantage
  • Willingness to travel extensively.

Reporting and Support

  • The Future Earth Executive Director will be responsible to the Chair of the Future Earth Governing Council, once appointed. Until the appointment of the Governing Council, the co-Chairs of the Alliance will take that role.
  • The Executive Director will work closely with the Chairs of the Science Committee and Engagement Committee as an ‘Executive Bureau’.
  • The Executive Director will be supported by a set of five hub Directors, who will be responsible to him/her, and staff at each of the secretariat global hub locations.


  • This recruitment is carried out on behalf of the Science and Technology Alliance for Global Sustainability.
  • This will be a 3 year appointment, with the possibility of extension subject to satisfactory performance, commencing as soon as possible.
  • The Executive Director can choose to be based at one of the following Secretariat hub locations: Boulder (Colorado), Montreal (Canada) or Stockholm (Sweden).  These are the hub locations which are able to support the Executive Director’s Office.  The Executive Director should not be a national of the nation hosting the Executive Director’s Office.
  • The contracting mechanism will be discussed with the selected candidate.
  • Salary will be commensurate with the skills and experience of the successful candidate.

Application procedure

Applicants are requested to submit a curriculum vitae, together with a cover letter describing their vision for Future Earth, the challenges and opportunities they foresee, and how their skills and experience would help them meet the requirements of the role. Please also include the name and contact details of three referees and details of current salary.  Applications (preferably in one combined PDF file), should be sent via email with ‘Future Earth Executive Director’ in the subject line to recruitment@icsu.org.

The closing date for applications is Monday 13th October 2014, 1700 CEST.

For candidates invited forward for initial interviews, these are intended to be held remotely by video conference during the week beginning 27th October.  Final interviews for shortlisted candidates are aimed at being held in person in Paris during the week beginning 17th November.  These dates are provided for information and planning, and should not be considered as an invitation to interview at this stage.

The five global hub director positions will be advertised separately. Interested candidates should refer to the Future Earth website for the upcoming advertisement.

For more information on Future Earth, please see the Future Earth website, http://www.futureearth.org/.  Further details on the Future Earth secretariat and its tasks are available on request.

Share this page
Tell a friend (opens in new window)
Follow us

Please note!

IGBP closed at the end of 2015. This website is no longer updated.

No events available

  • Global Change Magazine No. 84

    This final issue of the magazine takes stock of IGBP’s scientific and institutional accomplishments as well as its contributions to policy and capacity building. It features interviews of several past...

  • Global Change Magazine No. 83

    This issue features a special section on carbon. You can read about peak greenhouse-gas emissions in China, the mitigation of black carbon emissions and the effect of the 2010-2011 La Niña event on gl...