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Johan Rockström

Johan Rockström

Born: Risinge, Sweden, 31 December 1965

Civil status: Married to Ulrika (veterinary surgeon) with three children

Nationality: Swedish

Short resumé

Johan Rockström is Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University and a leading international scientist on global water resources and sustainable development. He is the former director of Stockholm Environment Institute. He has more than 15 years experience of research on agriculture, water resources and ecosystem services, and over 100 research publications with more than 50 peer-reviewed scientific articles and several books in the fields of global environmental change; resilience and sustainability; agricultural water management; watershed hydrology; global water resources and food production; and eco-hydrology. He has served as advisor to several international organizations, governments and the European Union, and is a frequented key-note speaker to several international research, policy and development arenas on sustainable development, global environmental change, and resilience thinking. He serves on several international committees and boards, including the scientific advisory board of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact research (PIK), the scientific overview committee of the International Council for Science (ICSU), the executive board of the Resilience Alliance, and the board of WaterAid Sweden. He currently leads the ICSU task team on the future vision for global environmental change research, and will lead the new ICSU Program on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS).

Academic titles:

  • Professor in Natural Resources Management (Stockholm University) (adjungerad professor, 2008)
  • Visiting Professor Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China (2005)
  • Associate Professor in Integrated Water Resource Management (Seconded from Unesco-IHE to University of Zimbabwe) (2002)
  • Associate Professor (Docent) in Natural Resource Management (Stockholm University) (2002)
  • PhD in Natural Resources Management, Dept of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University, Sweden (1997)
  • Licenciate of Philosophy, (Ph Lic) Stockholm University (1995)
  • Master in Agricultural Sciences, University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden (1992)
  • D.A.A. (Diplôme d’Agronomie Approfondie; The Grande Ecole Institut National Agronomique, Paris-Grignon) (French M.Sc.) (1993)

Key qualifications:

  • Systems research on social-ecological resilience in the context of sustainable agriculture and global change. A particular focus on resilience and freshwater resources, and the relations between ecosystem services, food production and sustainable development.
  • Research on coupling ecosystem management with governance and policy development.
  • Strategic leadership, institutional development, programme management, research coordination and facilitation, fund raising.
  • Strong communication skills and ability to bridge science with policy and practice.

Key positions held:

  • Executive Director, Stockholm Environment Institute
  • Manager of WaterNet, a regional capacity building and research programme on Integrated Water Resource Management in Eastern and Southern Africa
  • Senior Lecturer at Unesco-IHE Institute for Water Education, the Netherlands
  • Steering Committee member and Coordinating lead author of the Comprehensive Assessment on Water use in Agriculture (coordinated by IWMI)
  • Steering Committee member of the Challenge Programme on Water for Food (CGIAR-wide, and IWMI coordinated)
  • Programme coordinator of the Netherlands and Swedish funded integrated research programme in Southern Africa on smallholder system innovations in integrated watershed and river basing management (SSI).
  • Programme coordinator of research programme on integrated water resource management of the Challenge Programme on Water for Food (WaterNet project No 133 on IWRM in the Limpopo basin).
  • Steering committee member of the Comprehensive Assessment on Water Management in Agriculture
  • Regional Advisor on land and water management in East Africa for the Sida Regional Land Management Unit (RELMA)
  • Steering committee member of the African Conservation Tillage Network.
  • Chairman of the Nominating Committee of the Stockholm Junior Water Prize.
  • Member of the Board of Directors of the International Water Resource Association (IWRA).
  • Member of the International Water Academy (IWA).
  • Member of the of the Future Group of Water Leadership (supported by the Nippon Foundation)


  • Active participation in several COP meetings of the UNFCCC, as convenor of side-events, key-note speaker, moderator, and dialogue partner from science.
  • Active support to the process of establishing the Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), from the follow-up of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA) to the integration of the MEA and the French IMOSEB initiative.
  • Participation in the Swedish delegation, and keynote speaker/chair in sessions of the UNEP Governing Councils in Nairobi (2006) and Monaco (2008)
  • Expert contribution to the Swedish Environmental Advisory Council on Decoupling global development (2006).
  • Contribution to World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) Scenarios work (September 2005)
  • UN Millennium Summit, New York, September 2005. Presentation Swedish report on Environmental Sustainability and the MDGs


  • Vice-chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)
  • Chair of the Task Team of the ICSU Visioning process on Global Environmental Change research (2009-2011)
  • Member of the Committee for Scientific Planning and Review (CSPR) of ICSU (2008-)
  • Member Expert Panel of Swedish government Commission on Climate Change and Development, chaired by Gunilla Carlsson, Minister for Development Cooperation (2009)
  • Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the EU Joint Programming Initiative on sustainable Agriculture (2010-2011)
  • Member of LUCSUS board, Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies, Sweden (2007-)
  • Member Resilience Alliance board (2004 onwards)


Invited keynote speaker to a large number of international science and science-policy conferences and round tables; participation in numerous dialogues with business on the science of global change and resilience; engagement in several international processes on environment and development.

  • Keynote together with Professor Hans Rosling at the “Forum for Environmental Research” organized by Formas, VR, Naturvårdsverket, Uppsala 16 Feb 2011
  • WWF high-level event Baltic Sea, Finish Embassy, invited speaker on resilience and Baltic sea
  • Speaker at TED Global in Oxford July 2010
  • Invited Speaker Swedish EU Presidency meeting on Food, Lund 23rd November 2009
  • Speaker and panel member at Hearing World Development Report, Sida 18th September.
  • Invited speaker Strömstad on climate and biodiversity, EU ministerial meeting in September 2009
  • Key scientists at Tällberg learning journey to Greenland 8-12th May 2009
  • Invited speaker Iceland Globalisation Forum with Nordic Heads of State 25th – 26th February 2009
  • Ecosystem Service Review for Business. Swedish Water House and Albaeco. Invited talk on Making Business in the Anthropocene – Why Ecosystem Services are integral to Business? 14 Mar 2008
  • Keynote address at the Earth Institute State of the Planet meeting, March 2006
  • Re-organisation and management of complex social-ecological systems: global and southern African perspectives. Resilience Alliance Symposium, South Africa, April 2006.
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