18 November 2018

Interview with Albert van Jaarsveld

Options Winter 2018/19: Meet Albert van Jaarsveld, the new IIASA Director General and CEO

 © silveri | IIASA

© silveri | IIASA

Q: What attracted you to IIASA? 
A: IIASA has a tremendous reputation internationally for its groundbreaking work in systems analysis. I have spent large parts of my career using dynamic systems modeling and integrated modeling in conservation biology, so it is an area I personally think is important for solving many global problems. If I can make a small contribution to help IIASA deliver on the tremendous potential that it holds, I would be delighted. 

Q: How do you feel about your appointment as the new director general of IIASA? 
A: It is a huge privilege to be given this responsibility, but I am also very excited about it. I feel passionate about the role that IIASA can play in forging a sustainable future for humanity. I have a lot of learning to do about the organization itself and I am happy to dive into that. 

Q: What do you think IIASA’s main strengths are? 
A: IIASA’s main strength is its people. The people who work here are recognized throughout the world for the capabilities they have. Beyond that, one needs to recognize the institute’s strength in terms of its collaborators from around the world, who add value and bring additional strength to what we already have here.  

Q: What particular experience do you bring to IIASA? 
A: I think I have a good understanding of governance and the running of institutions like IIASA. I have experience that will allow me to make it a more efficient, effective organization, where our researchers will be able to do the best science that they can. I hope that during my tenure here people will get to know me as someone that is approachable and prepared to engage with staff, and somebody that will make sure that I do my utmost to make this organization truly take off.  

Q: What is your vision for IIASA? 
A: IIASA already has significant global prominence established over many years through excellent research under successive directors, particularly with the growth achieved under my predecessor. First, this growth phase needs to be consolidated. At the same time, we must make sure that IIASA expands its footprint into our member countries, adding value there so that IIASA is seen as the hub of collective systems analysis activities, and to develop those activities at a national level. 

I will focus on the values, culture, and the climate of IIASA, to make it a destination of choice for staff, students, collaborators, and visiting scientists. 

Q: What will be your first steps in your new role? 
A: My first step will be to listen. I want to hear what people have to say about IIASA, both internally and externally. We have to develop a new strategic plan for 2021 and beyond, so the idea is that we take the learnings from the listening exercise and assimilate them into the new strategic plan.  

Q: What are you looking forward to most? 
A: I really enjoy it when the scientific enterprise makes a meaningful contribution to improving the quality of life for humanity and the quality of the environment. As humans, we may not be able to live in a pristine environment, but we can certainly live on a dignified earth. We must get this balance right to ensure that the future that emerges is both sustainable and dignified.

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Last edited: 06 November 2018


Albert van Jaarsveld

IIASA Director General and Chief Executive Officer

Directorate - DG

T +43(0) 2236 807 700

Options Winter 2018/19

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International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313