Meet the Scientific Advisory Board Members
“Transformation is overdue. The timeframe is shortening for decarbonizing the economy, and the likelihood of highly disruptive impacts of climate change is increasing with every delay. Hence we need robust evidence and serious theories about how societies transform to give early lessons for such risks.”
Neil Adger is Professor in Geography at the University of Exeter, UK. He researches social dimensions of vulnerability, adaptation and resilience in the face of environmental change. He currently convenes the chapter on human security for the Fifth Assessment Report of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
“In my life and work I explore ways to rekindle the power of imagination to transform our thinking to bring about change. I reveal and reclaim forgotten or rejected practices, concepts and cultures that brings our awareness to the patterns that connect us to culture and the earth as a living organism.”
Eva Bakkeslett is an artist who shows, lectures and performs her work nationally and internationally using a combination of film, performative talks and social sculpture. She holds an MA in Arts & Ecology from Dartington College of Art in England. Eva has collaborated with the Department of Sociology and Human Geography at University of Oslo for the last four years.
"The idea of transformation is utopian, allowing us to envisage radical changes for a more sustainable and peaceful world. Utopian visions are important – if we can’t at least imagine a better world then we certainly can’t make it happen. The challenge for researchers is to build theories about transformation based on knowledge and evidence of how dramatic change has happened in the past."
Jon is Professor and Australian Research Council Future Fellow in the Department of Resource Management and Geography at Melbourne University. He is a political geographer who researches the impacts of and responses to environmental change on social systems in Australia, East Asia and the South Pacific.
"Most change is in small steps; piecemeal, slowly accumulating, path dependent. This kind of change is important in all structured and ordered systems. Transformation represents for me a discontinuity, where existing structures and orders some to replaced by something new. This kind of disruptive change is both thrilling and dangerous, there are winners and losers, with those vested in the old order the biggest losers. Understanding the dynamics of such discontinuities and working out how govern 'purposive' transformations towards desired sustainable socio-technical systems is what interests me."
Frans Berkhout is Professor of Innovation and Sustainability at the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), VU University in Amsterdam, The Netherlands where he is also director of the Amsterdam Global Change Institute. Professor Berkhout’s more recent research has been concerned with socio-technical innovation, policy and sustainability, with a focus on climate policy.
Barrett Brown, Integral Sustainability Center Amsterdam, the Netherlands
"The idea of “transformation” in the context of climate change announces the need for a double perspective. We introduce transformations to outline credible critiques of the business-as-usual economic and energy models, while, in the same remove, attempt to harness imaginations about possible social-ecological worlds that are sustainable. Given the scale of the challenge, moreover, the idea of transformation must be global in its research disposition and must pursue the notion of human survival as its essential and meaningful goal."
Rohan D`Souza is Assistant Professor at the Centre for Studies in Science Policy, Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi, India). He is the author of Drowned and Dammed: Colonial Capitalism and Flood Control in Eastern India (2006). His research interests and publications relate to issues on conservation, environmental history, environmental politics and sustainable development.
"Ioan perceives transformation to be a multi-scale and multi-contingent process, where the influence of individuals, groups and societies interact over time to create new possible configurations that may or may not lead to more sustainable behaviours. Adaptation (e.g. to climate change) may therefore have different degrees of transformation, and transformation may not be an abrupt process. Achieving any transformation, however, will often require significant conceptual and perceptual shifts in the individuals concerned. The capacity for these shifts to occur will also be influenced by dispositions towards flexible and adaptive learning."
Ioan Fazey is a Professor Social Dimensions of Environmental Change Geography, School of Environment, University of Dundee, UK. He has diverse interests and an interdisciplinary background in human-environment relationships. His work has included studies of how people understand and learn in complex environments, values of the environment, participatory development, vulnerability and adaptation and processes of knowledge exchange. This has been in diverse contexts including Australia, Solomon Islands, Romania and the UK.
Chris Field is the founding director of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology, Melvin and Joan Lane Professor of Interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences at Stanford University, and Faculty Director of Stanford's Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve. Chris’s research emphasizes impacts of climate change, from the molecular to the global scale. He has served on many national and international committees related to global ecology and climate change. Since 2008 he has been the co-chair of working group 2 of the IPCC.
Carl Folke, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Sweden
"Everyone seems to be talking about transformation - deep transformation, radical and urgent change. Talk is cheap. The imperative to transform is not new. Neither does it come to us as an empty box, devoid of critical wisdom and creative thought, lacking in practice-based evidence, free of either grand or grounded theory. Time now to take stock of what we do and do not know, to examine the successes and failures of past and present attempts at change, to connect the dots between alternative schools of thought, different communities of practice. Time now to put transformation itself at the centre of inquiry and practice, to make it the object of our concern rather than the promise of where such concern may (or may not) lead."
Heide Hackmann is the Executive Director of the International Social Science Council. Heide has worked as a science policy maker, researcher and consultant in the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom and South Africa. Her research interests have been on science policy studies, the governance of science, and research evaluation. In addition to having directed numerous international research and science-policy initiatives over the years, she is also a member of many policy and advisory committees.
"As global economies and societies face far reaching change, here in my home town of Christchurch New Zealand, we have experienced our own transformation, as 56 earthquakes at magnitude 5 or more over the past two years have exposed deep social, political, and economic fault-lines as well as strength in our community. The events have also transformed my own understanding of my research and advocacy for children. I hope we can connect and support others experiencing neoliberal disaster, and through time and creative struggle, leave a more democratic, just and sustainable legacy for our youngest citizens, one worthy of a city that was also the birthplace of New Zealand’s world leading campaign for women's suffrage."
Dr Bronwyn Hayward is political scientist, geographer and senior lecturer in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Her focus is in the area of governments' responsibilities to communities in a changing world-with a particular emphasis on youth and children in periods of environmental, social and economic change. Her most recent book is Children, Citizenship and Environment: Nurturing a democratic imagination in a changing world (Routledge).
"Several years ago it was increasingly clear to me that incremental adaptation alone will not be enough to deal with the scale and rapidity of climate change and that more systemic and transformative adaptation will be needed. I established a team to research transformational adaptation, developing a theoretical basis for this and then testing this through working with individuals, enterprises and communities who are transforming so as to understand the processes of such adaptation and what can help and hinder."
Dr Mark Howden is a Chief Research Scientist with Australia's national research agency, CSIRO. He leads a group of about 120 researchers in the CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship and is an Honorary Professor at Melbourne University, School of Land and Food. Mark has been a major contributor to the IPCC since 1992.
"Having worked on adaptation to the adverse impacts of climate change in poor developing countries and communities for over a decade, I have come to the realisation that adaptation can be much more than just context-specific risk mitigation, but if done properly, can actually lead to transformative changes. Thus transformative adaptation seeks to enable countries, communities and organisations to not only mitigate the risks from adverse impacts of future climate change but to use the adaptation planning process to plan for transformative change."
Saleemul Huq is the director of the International Centre for Climate Change & Development (ICCCAD) since 2009 and he is also a senior fellow at the International Institute for Environment & Development (IIED). Dr. Huq has published numerous articles in scientific and popular journals, and he has served as both lead author and coordinating lead author to various assessment reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Myanna Lahsen is Senior Researcher in the Earth System Science Center at the Brazilian Institute for Space Research (INPE) and former Lecturer on Environmental Science and Public Policy at Harvard University. A Cultural Anthropologist by training, she studies knowledge politics and other socio-cultural and political dynamics related to global environmental change and development.
Melissa Leach, STEPS Centre, the Institute of Development Studies, UK
"To achieve a resilient and sustainable world, we need to make a fundamental shift or transition. One that will not come by itself nor automatically lead to sustainability, but one that requires a concerted governance effort focused on stepwise revolutionary systems change."
Derk Loorbach is director of the Dutch Research Institute for Transitions (Drift) at the Erasmus University Rotterdam and associate professor in transition management. Drift is a pioneering interdisciplinary institute that combines cutting edge research with close cooperation with policy and business to further sustainable development in practice.
"Whether we transform to a high-carbon or low-carbon Earth, societies will be very different fifty years from now. The possible pathways are endless, and the possible end-states will be very different. We can choose to make wise decisions about these pathways, or we can choose to make no decisions at all. Elucidating the decision-making process and its consequences is to me an important part of climate research."
Cecilie is a physical oceanographer, specialising in large-scale ocean circulation and ocean heat- and freshwater uptake. She has been lead author for IPCCs Fourth and Fifth Assessment Reports, and has contributed to a wide variety of international panels. As director of CICERO she is particularly concerned with the art of communicating climate change.
"Transformation. Sea change. Seeing change. Shakespeare was the first to use the word “sea change” – a term already needed apparently in 1610. “The Tempest.” Sometimes it takes a storm… Because the shape of something really has to change. Interestingly enough a story, some say, about the struggle between rationality and magic. We may hope rationality will take us across, but is it big enough? Sometimes it may take violent intervention, sometimes innate forces that demand evolution from one state to another. Like the larva in a cocoon becoming butterfly. Metamorphosis. Change of form. From Morpheus – name of the god of dreams. Dreaming the "across, beyond” into being. To go beyond. To leave behind. To commit. Imagination. Endurance. Faith. Surrender. Loss. And novel gain."
Susanne Moser is Director of Susanne Moser Research & Consulting in Santa Cruz, California and a Social Science Research Fellow at Stanford’s Woods Institute for the Environment. Her work with local, state and federal agencies and others focuses on adaptation, communication, and science-policy interactions. Dr. Moser has contributed to IPCC, US national, and regional assessments. She has been recognized as a fellow of the Aldo Leopold Leadership, Kavli Frontiers of Science, UCAR Leadership, Donella Meadows Leadership, and Google Science Communication Programs.
"Transformation is a big word that generates big expectations. It is easy to forget that the most significant transformations are those involving small inner shifts and slight changes in perspectives. These can lead to more expansive ways of viewing the world and more generous ways of viewing others. Such transformations make visible new possibilities for creating positive change in the world, and they are integral to the types of responses needed to meet complex challenges in a changing climate."
Karen O’Brien is a Professor in the Department of Sociology and Human Geography at the University of Oslo, Norway. Her research focuses on climate change impacts, vulnerability and adaptation and the implications for human security. She is particularly interested in the relationship between personal, cultural, organizational and systems transformation, including how transdisciplinary and integral approaches to global change research can contribute to a better understanding of how societies both create and respond to change.
Per Olsson is a researcher and theme leader for Adaptive Governance at the Stockholm Resilience Centre. His primary research interest is in linked social-ecological system dynamics and resilience. His current research is in global sustainability transformations and how to reverse current trends of crossing critical thresholds and tipping points in the Earth system. This involves studies of agency, social-ecological innovations, and the emergence of new, multi-level governance regimes in response to uncertainty and rapid change.
"When faced with risk and uncertainty it is all too easy to baton down the hatches and place increasing trust in what one knows – in the relationships and values that are dominant in society, Adaptation in this context aims to protect what exists in the face of external threat. But in an era of rapid social change, mounting inequality and dangerous climate change defensive thinking misses a fundamental truth – that dominant values, relationships and practices are generative of the risks we now collectively face. We are the problem – not nature or environmental process. Transformation confronts this challenge head-on, asking who, what and how far it is possible to change practices and underlying values and social structures, and how fundamental such change could, or should be. This is not new, transformative development can learn from past eras of alternative development, sustainable development, socialist development and more, but it is pressing. Dominant development narratives of global economic growth and a conservative policy vision of resilience have tended to bound out more challenging agendas for change. Transformation offers scope to widen the vision of what can be achieved and asks key questions of who should change and how."
Mark Pelling is Professor of Geography, King’s College London. He researches on social dimensions of disaster risk management and climate change adaptation and coordinates an MA in Disasters Adaptation and Development. His most recent book is Adaptation to Climate Change: From Resilience to Transformation. He serves IPCC and sits on the international scientific steering committees of LOICZ and IRDR.
"As someone who has had to transform from an academic into a practitioner in order to ensure that the science and politics of a city become more effectively aligned, I understand the need for often radical change to jumpstart a new course of action. In Africa there is an urgent need to break from the 'tried and tested' and to create a 'new normal' that uses local, African-focused action to drive a change in global thinking. Africa is the continent on which we became human for the first time, and it needs to be the place where we rediscover that humanity in our second great transition to a more connected, caring and sustainable society. I therefore believe that the African voice is an important one in any debate around transformation."
Debra Roberts has worked in the city of Durban as a local government practitioner since the advent of democracy in South Africa in 1994. Her major focus areas are climate change adaptation and biodiversity planning in the African urban context. Prior to this she was a researcher and lecturer at the (then) University of Natal.
"If you consider Gandhi's movement of passive resistance, the civil-rights movement in the United States and Mandela's anti-apartheid movement, you will see that even non-violent transformative social processes encountered resistance and violent opposition. It is important to understand how these movements created threats to the status-quo and that strong resistance was therefore inevitable. Can we imagine ways to promote transformational climate actions that will address the tensions and differences that create such oppositional forces?"
Dr. Paty Romero-Lankao is an "interdisciplinary sociologist" by training. She has been a research Scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Reasearch (NCAR). Paty is acutely aware that cities are key players in the climate arena as emitters of GHG, vulnerability hotspots and crucibles of innovation, and her research explores the dynamics of urbanization and urban systems that shape urban emissions, vulnerabilities and risk . In addition to her research work, she has participated in global and local endeavors promoted by IPCC, UNDP, IAI and UN-HABITAT. Although she was born in Mexico, she considers herself to be a citizen of the world.
"Transformation for me is about deliberately moving towards a fundamentally different future, one that avoids the major pitfalls you are experiencing or envisage for the business-as-usual pathway. Transformative planning and action involves collectively re-conceptualising the future, both the untenable nature of the current pathway and the fundamentally different pathways you could move down with appropriate interventions, including creating new relationships between people and between social and ecological systems."
Paul Ryan is the principal of Interface NRM, an environmental consultancy that specialises in resilience thinking, strategic planning, adaptive governance and management. For the past five years Paul has been working with federal, state, regional agencies and local communities to incorporate resilience concepts into natural resource management and planning. Paul is currently involved in research relating to resilience, transformation and climate change working with communities from southern and far northern Australia. An ecologist by training, Paul has previously worked with CSIRO and the Resilience Alliance.
Roberto A. Sanchez Rodriguez, El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, Mexico
William Solecki is a professor of geography at Hunter College and director of the City University of New York Institute for Sustainable Cities. He is also co-chair of the New York City panel on Climate Change, and a member of the Scientific Steering Committee of the Urbanization and Global Environmental Change Project (UGEC) of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP).
Asuncion Lera St. Clair
"If we compare the values, social practices, or political economy relations between the middle ages and today we see good and bad transformative changes. Women vote and have rights, we understand better that production and consumption has consequences in faraway places, we no longer hit children to educate them or think that revenge is a good idea of justice. We know transformations can be bad through the dehumanizing of the other we witnessed during Nazism, the prejudice of racism, or the intolerance of religious fundamentalism, and know complacency does not protect us from supporting such change. Wealth has transformed, but poverty and gross inequalities remain. I think transformation in a changing climate means envisioning alternative futures based on reflective and honest science, learning from good and bad lessons, and based on the principles of human rights and democratic deliberation."
Asuncion Lera St. Clair, philosopher and sociologist, is Research Director at the International Centre for Climate and Environmental Research-Oslo. St. Clair is Lead Author of the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Her research interests are focused on the relations between transformative change, critical poverty studies, climate change, development ethics, human rights and global justice, with a particular focus on epistemology and processes of knowledge production; and the role of donor and multilateral organizations.
"To me, transformation is the Art of Learning how to fight peacefully and collectively against injustice, indifference and intolerance. Enhancing equity ought to be regarded as the main driver and outcome of societal transformation. As researchers involved in the sustainability project, I feel that our responsibility is to contribute to a better understanding of our human-environmental conditions and interactions, while providing effective concepts and tools for their improvement. This requires a commitment to a global perspective which takes into account the right of future generations to a safe and quality life and appreciates diversity in all its natural and social expressions."
David Tabara works at the Global Climate Forum and is associate senior researcher at the Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology of the Autonomous University of Barcelona. He is a member the European Sustainability Science Group, founding member and currently part of the Board of the Research Committee on Environment and Society of the International Sociological Association.
"I am interested transitions and transformations as these relate to identifying and understanding ‘pathways to sustainability’ in complex socio-technical systems. Negotiating pathways to sustainability is fundamentally a political process. It can be informed by scientific analyses of contexts, systems and their properties, but ultimately it requires an opening up of debate through a diversification of knowledge systems and a fostering of inclusive deliberation at all levels. This needs to be supported by reflexive institutional frameworks and governance procedures – and above all, by an increased humility and attention to power relations in processes of appraisal and decision-making."
John Thompson has worked on power, policy and sustainability issues in food and agriculture systems for over 30 years, in both developing and industrialised countries. As a Research Fellow in the Knowledge, Technology and Society Team at the Institute of Development Studies, UK, he serves as Joint Co-ordinator of the Future Agricultures Consortium and Convenor of the Food and Agriculture Domain of the STEPS Centre, UK.
"Transformation for me is fundamental and in some cases painful change. The ‘stuff’ required for change, however, is not always new but often can be drawn on from that which has always been there, may be dormant but at some stage finds new life and expression in a vitally new form. The ‘inside’ is brought ‘outside’ and made explicit. In terms of global environmental change and climate change transformation this understanding has particular significance. Too much of the ‘thinking’ on GEC and climate change is imbued with negativity and doom and gloom scenarios. While many of these may be ‘real’, a victim-mentality often takes hold. I suggest that we need to draw deep down on what we all already have – keen intellect and understanding, the ability to create and think and design profoundly with fairness and justice. To do this will, however, take the transforming of our values, belief systems and approaches to life such that we can do something positive and thereby harness the potential that we innately already have at our disposal but that may require renewal: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2)."
Coleen Vogel is an Extraordinary Professor (Visiting) to the School of Public Leadership, University of Stellenbosch. She was the BMW Chair of Sustainability at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and was a previous Chair of the international scientific committee of the International Human Dimensions Programme (IHDP) dealing with environmental change issues. Her current research interests include transdisciplinarity dimensions of climate change, transformative education on global environmental change, urban risk reduction, climate change risk communication and climate change development issues.
Frances Westley, University of Waterloo, Canada