Sussex appoints renowned former UNEP Chief Scientist as Sustainability Research Programme Director

Professor Alcamo

The University of Sussex has appointed renowned environmental scientist Professor Joseph Alcamo as Director of the Sussex Sustainability Research Programme (SSRP). 

The award-winning American scientist, who takes up the post in April, is highly regarded for his international achievements in environmental science and policy. He has led research groups in several countries and for the last two decades has been a professor at the University of Kassel in Germany, where he is the Executive Director of the Centre for Environmental Systems Research.

From 2009-13 Professor Alcamo took a leave of absence from the University of Kassel to become the first Chief Scientist of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and was the first person to hold a Chief Scientist post within the UN system. Whilst at UNEP he brought together large groups of scientists to produce high-profile reports for policymakers on climate change, air pollution, ozone layer depletion and food-security issues.

The highly regarded professor also helped found the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, an alliance of governments and non-state partners dedicated to fast action on pollutants that cause both air pollution and climate change. After leaving UNEP he served as Special Science Advisor to Christiana Figueres, the UN Head of Climate Negotiations, in the key period leading up to the Paris Climate Agreement (2014-16).

Building on the University of Sussex’s tradition of interdisciplinary and societal engagement, the SSRP aims to support the sustainability of life on earth through rigorous research which influences policy and stimulates action. Professor Alcamo’s role as Director is to lead a new global sustainability hub at the University which fosters partnerships and provides cutting-edge scientific policy advice to governments, private sector, citizens and funders.

Commenting on the appointment, Professor Michael Davies, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, said: “Professor Alcamo has proven himself to be a global leader in bridging the gap between science, policy and practice - which is vital if we are to create a more sustainable future.

“We are delighted Professor Alcamo is set to become the new Director of the Sussex Sustainability Research Programme - I am sure with his high-profile international experience as a distinguished environmental scientist, we can create a programme which encourages both government and industry to make more sustainable decisions.”

Professor Alcamo said:I believe sustainability science is at the frontier of research, and where the vital interests of society and science coincide. I know of few institutions in the world investing as much in this research as the University of Sussex. So I am especially honoured and pleased to be able to lead this ambitious programme.”

The Sussex Sustainability Research Programme, which was launched by the University of Sussex last year together with the Institute of Development Studies, spans four of the University’s schools, including: Business, Management & Economics; Global Studies; Law, Politics & Sociology; and Life Sciences.

By: Lynsey Ford
Last updated: Thursday, 16 February 2017