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Future Earth appoints new leaders to Engagement Committee

Future Earth’s Governing Council has appointed a new leadership team to its Engagement Committee. Farooq Ullah, Executive Director of the Stakeholder Forum, will serve as the Chair of the committee beginning in February. Tim Payn, a Principal Scientist at Scion, the New Zealand Forest Research Institute, and Ruth Wolstenholme, Managing Director of the Scottish charity Sniffer, will also step in as Vice-Chairs.

The Engagement Committee plays a key role in ensuring that Future Earth’s activities embody the principles of co-design and co-production of knowledge. A strategic advisory group, the committee includes members working in business, policy and civil society on six continents. They provide Future Earth with real-world guidance on how it can include a range of stakeholders in its research process from start to finish — developing science that addresses the challenges facing communities across the globe. Such engagement is central to the goals of Future Earth, Farooq Ullah says:

The concept of engagement, including the co-design and co-production of scientific research, is fundamental to the DNA of Future Earth. We’re a research platform not a research programme. Our added value is demand-driven collaborative efforts to advance sustainability science.

For nearly a decade, Ullah has worked in policy and sustainable development at the international, national and local levels and also spent several years in the private sector. He joined the Stakeholder Forum, an organisation based in London that promotes global sustainable development, in 2011 and has served as Executive Director since 2012.

Ullah says that he is passionate about connecting science and policy to society and about including perspectives that go beyond the "traditional spheres of knowledge" in the scientific process.  Ullah previously sat on Future Earth’s interim Engagement Committee and was appointed to the organisation’s inaugural Engagement Committee in 2014. He is an active member of the Future Earth working group on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which coordinates activities relating to the post-2015 development agenda.

Joining Ullah on the new leadership team of the Engagement Committee is Tim Payn, a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Forestry. Payn currently heads the Economics, Ecosystem and Climate Research Team at Scion. He’s lead research efforts to better understand the environmental, economic, social and cultural aspects of Sustainable Forest Management and has supported international efforts to promote sustainable management practices. Payn is dedicated to achieving impact from science and to exploring how the science-sector-government interface can help researchers and others to meet that goal.

Ruth Wolstenholme will also join Future Earth as a Vice-Chair of the Engagement Committee. In her position at Sniffer, which brokers knowledge on sustainability issues, she works with government, agencies, businesses and community-facing organisations to build capacity and facilitate collaborative working so that society is better prepared for environmental change.  She has a strong focus on the use of  evidence-based tools  and creative approaches to engagement, working across sectors.  Under her leadership, Sniffer also played a key role in launching and delivering the Adaptation Scotland programme, which helps organisations and communities to prepare for and adapt to climate change.

All three of the new appointments will make important contributions to the Engagement Committee in 2016, says Paul Shrivastava, Executive Director of Future Earth:

We are delighted to have these appointments formalized. Farooq, Tim and Ruth are already working as a cohesive team to deepen our engagement with stakeholders.  Their leadership is greatly appreciated within Future Earth and in our wider community.  As we launch our Knowledge Action Networks this year, working with stakeholders will be crucial.

You can learn more about the work of Future Earth’s Engagement Committee here. Or discover how you can get involved in Future Earth.