It is our pleasure to announce the appointment of John Schellnhuber as the new IIASA Director General effective from 1 December 2023.

Portrait of John Schellnhuber © PIK | Karkow, 2020

John Schellnhuber will bring a wealth of experience gained in both leadership and academic positions to IIASA. He served as the founding director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) from 1992 until 2018, and from 2001 to 2005, he held the position of research director at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in the UK. His expertise in climate change has earned him worldwide recognition, leading to memberships in prestigious learned societies such as the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the German National Academy Leopoldina, the US National Academy of Sciences, the Academia Europaea, and the Academy of Athens.

John Schellnhuber has been an active researcher in mathematical physics, complexity theory, earth system analysis, climate change modeling, sustainability science, and other fields over the last 50 years. He has published some 300 scientific articles and books so far and is listed as a Highly Cited Researcher (Cross Field) by Clarivate.

He has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the German Environmental Prize, the Volvo Environmental Prize, the Blue Planet Prize, and the Ratio et Spes Prize. His exceptional influence on science, politics, and business in the field of sustainability was also recognized by the German Sustainability Prize, which awarded him its Honorary Edition. In addition, he has received honors and awards from various countries, including being named a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II and receiving the Order of Merit of the State of Brandenburg, the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, and the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon, from the Japanese Government. He also received the Grand Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany from President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and was made Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur of the French Republic.

As a scientific advisor, John Schellnhuber has lent his expertise to prominent public and religious leaders, including former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Commission Presidents José Manuel Barroso and Ursula von der Leyen, and Pope Francis. He has also been a dedicated member and chair of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) since its establishment in 1992. Additionally, his contributions to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) were instrumental in the panel receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

More recently, he has focused on the transformation of the built environment and the climate restoration potential of regenerative architecture. He founded the not-for-profit company Bauhaus Earth and became a member of the High-Level Roundtable of the New European Bauhaus initiative, further demonstrating his commitment to sustainable solutions.

“John Schellnhuber's extensive experience, profound expertise, and visionary leadership will bring significant advancements to the IIASA mission of tackling global challenges through applied systems analysis. His appointment marks an exciting new chapter for IIASA, and we eagerly anticipate the positive impact he will have on the institute and its mission. Please join us in welcoming him to the IIASA leadership team and wishing him great success in his new role as Director General,” concludes Michael Clegg, IIASA Council Chair.


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