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Indian economist and politician Jairam Ramesh to be Chair of Future Earth’s Engagement Committee

Future Earth is a global research platform providing the knowledge and support to accelerate our transformations to a sustainable world. Bringing together and in partnership with existing programmes on global environmental change, Future Earth will be a hub to coordinate new, interdisciplinary approaches to research, and provide a platform for international engagement to ensure that actionable knowledge is generated in partnership with society and users of science.

Jairam Ramesh is a member of the Indian Parliament with more than 30 years’ experience in economic and development policy, both as an official as well as a Minister. He was a member of the UN Secretary General's High-Level Global Sustainability Panel between 2011 and 2012, and played a key role in the UN Climate Change Conferences at Copenhagen (2009) and Cancun (2010). He has published widely on economic development, energy, environment, globalisation and India-China relations.

“I am honoured to chair the Future Earth Engagement Committee at a time when there is growing public consciousness of the environmental challenges we face as a global community and when there is a widespread public desire for concrete actions from all governments. I hope to be able to make some contributions to bridging the gap between the world of science and the world of politics,” said Jairam Ramesh on his appointment.

The Future Earth Engagement Committee will provide leadership and strategic guidance on involving societal partners throughout the entire research process from co-design to dissemination, ensuring that Future Earth bridges the gap between knowledge and solutions for sustainable development. Working together with the Future Earth Science Committee and the Secretariat, its primary purpose is to foster in-depth and innovative interactions between science and society.

“Jairam Ramesh brings formidable experience of policy making processes” said Mark Stafford Smith, Chair of the Future Earth Science Committee. “Working with members of the Science Committee and the Engagement Committee,  Jairam will help to ensure that the voice of the South is heard in all of our work. His standing highlights the importance of Future Earth, and we greatly look forward to working with him.”

The Engagement Committee is a strategic advisory group of thought-leaders from stakeholder groups including business, policy and civil society, representing the diversity of societal partners needed to address the challenges of global environmental change. The full Committee will comprise 18 members and is expected to be announced by the Alliance by the end of 2014. Committee members have been selected following an open international call for applications and through an active search by members of the Alliance.

Heide Hackmann, Executive Director of the International Social Science Council (ISSC) and co-Chair of the Alliance said:

“The Engagement Committee is key to the success of Future Earth. Bringing societal stakeholders into our governance structures is intended to ensure that Future Earth delivers on its promise to co-design and co-produce knowledge that works with and for society. I am grateful to Jairam Ramesh for his willingness to lead this innovative Committee, and we will work closely with him as we finalise the composition of the Committee to assemble a truly international group that ensures sectoral, regional and gender balance.”

An interim Engagement Committee comprising 7 members from a range of stakeholder groups was appointed in 2013, and has developed Future Earth’s thinking about engagement during its first phase of implementation. The interim Committee’s term will come to an end in December 2014.

Bob Watson, Chair of the interim Engagement Committee, said:

“Future Earth and the Engagement Committee are fortunate to have the services of such an outstanding individual as Jairam. I and the interim Engagement Committee members are fully committed to ensure a smooth transition to the newly selected Committee.”

The term of the Chair of the Engagement Committee is 3 years, while committee members will serve for two years, both terms being extendable.

Jairam Ramesh has been Minister of Rural Development, Minister of Environment and Forests and Minister of Commerce and Power, and is now a regular commentator on development issues with focus on the environment. Recently, he was a Fisher Family Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He has degrees in engineering and public management and has studied at the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, Carnegie Mellon University and MIT. His third book, Ecology, Growth and Democracy in India, will be released by Oxford University Press in January 2015.

About the Alliance
The Science and Technology Alliance for Global Sustainability is an informal international partnership which brings together members from research, funding and the international sectors that sponsor Future Earth.

The core membership of the Alliance includes the International Council for Science (ICSU), the International Social Science Council (ISSC), the IGFA/Belmont Forum, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), the United Nations University (UNU) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The Alliance is currently co-Chaired by UNESCO and the ISSC.

About Future Earth
Future Earth is a new 10-year global research platform providing the knowledge and support to accelerate our transformations to a sustainable world. It will bring together three global environmental change programmes: the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), the International Human Dimensions Programme (IHDP) and DIVERSITAS, engage closely with the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) and attract new research and stakeholder communities. Future Earth seeks to pioneer new approaches to international research bringing together many disciplines around a common research agenda. It will also provide an international platform for engagement to ensure that knowledge is generated in partnership with society and users of science.