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Sten Nilsson

Guest Senior Research Scholar

Agriculture, Forestry, and Ecosystem Services Research Group

Biodiversity and Natural Resources Program


Sten B. Nilsson is a senior guest research scholar in the Agriculture Forestry and Ecosystem Services Research Group of the IIASA Biodiversity and Natural Resources Program. Over the years, he has developed many working and research foci including sector policies, strategies, and governance; structural change and transformation; new forest products; bioeconomy; climate change and greenhouse gas balances; and land availability, land-use, deforestation, and landscape management. A crucial part of these analyses has been to assess the societal impacts of policies, strategies, structural changes and transformations of the forest sector and the formation of ‘social contracts' between government, the forest sector, and civil society.

Nilsson first joined IIASA in January 1986, becoming leader of the former Forestry Program in 1990. Between 1998 and 2002, he was counselor to the director and was appointed deputy director from July 2002 to May 2008. From May 2008 to January 2009, he was acting director of IIASA. Since his retirement from the IIASA management in 2009, Nilsson has been affiliated with numerous organizations, and is the CEO of the consulting firm Forest Sector Insights AB. In particular, he has worked as a consultant on the transformation of the forest industry and forest sector, and the transformation to a bio-economy for national and international organizations, as well as the forest industry itself.

He has held numerous consultancies in organizations such as The World Bank, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) , Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), European Commission, and Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). He also served as an expert in different international organizations such as the World Commission on Forests and Sustainable Development (WCFSD), International Boreal Forest Research Association (IBFRA), International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO), Ministerial conference on the protection of Forests in Europe (MCPFE), World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Forest Trends, and the Rights and Resources Initiative.

A native of Sweden, Nilsson has had a distinguished academic career in forest sector analysis with an emphasis on policy analysis. He has authored and coauthored some 400 scientific publications and is frequently asked to address international meetings and organizations on different issues dealing with the forest sector. Since the early 1990s, he has also been contributing to the reports published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which, together with Al Gore, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

Nilsson received his MSc in forestry from the Royal College of Forestry in Stockholm, Sweden in 1971, and his PhD in economic planning from the same college in 1975. In 1976, he became professor in economic planning at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and held his position until 1996. He is a working member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry as well as of the Scientific Committee of Academia Istropolitana Nova, Slovakia; an Academician of the UN International Academy of Informatics, Russia; and Foreign Member of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences.

Last update: 03 FEB 2022


Nilsson, S. (2020). Vad säger omvärlden och marknaden? In: Framtidens träd: vad kan förädlingen ge och vad kommer att efterfrågas?.

Nilsson, S. (2015). Global trend and possible land use. In: The Future Use of Nordic Forests. A Global Perspective. Eds. Lindahl,K.,, E. Westholm, Beland & (Eds.), F. Kraxner, Cham: Spriunger International Publishing. ISBN 978-3-319-14217-3 10.1007/978-3-319-14218-0.

Nilsson, S. (2015). Global trends and possible future land use. In: The Future Use of Nordic Forests. pp. 43-62 Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. ISBN 978-3-319-14218-0 10.1007/978-3-319-14218-0_4.

Nilsson, S. (2015). Transition in the Canadian forest sector. In: The Future Use of Nordic Forests. A Global Perspective. Eds. Lindahl,, E. Westholm, K. Beland & (Eds.), F. Kraxner, Cham: Springer International Publishing. ISBN 978-3-319-14217-3 10.1007/978-3-319-14218-0_9.

Jonas, M. , Ometto, J.P., Batistella, M., Franklin, O. , Hall, M., Lapola, D.M., Moran, E.F., Tramberend, S. , Queiroz, B.L., Schaffartzik, A., Shvidenko, A., Nilsson, S., & Nobre, C.A. (2014). Sustaining ecosystem services: Overcoming the dilemma posed by local actions and planetary boundaries. Earth's Future 2 (8) 407-420. 10.1002/2013EF000224.