Future Earth


Launched in 2015, Future Earth is a 10-year initiative to advance Global Sustainability Science, build capacity in this rapidly expanding area of research and provide an international research agenda to guide natural and social scientists working around the world. But it is also a platform for international engagement to ensure that knowledge is generated in partnership with society and users of science. We are closely engaged in international processes such as the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and climate and biodiversity agreements (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity).

Future Earth is built on many decades of international research on global environmental change carried out by projects sponsored by DIVERSITAS, the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) and the International Human Dimensions Programme (IHDP). Over 20 projects, ranging from the Global Carbon Project to the Earth System Governance project, have joined Future Earth. From this intellectual base Future Earth is launching Knowledge-Action Networks to catalyze new research and partnerships around eight key challenges to global sustainability.

Future Earth’s five Global Hubs are based in Colorado, Montreal, Paris, Stockholm and Tokyo and coordinate and catalyse new research for global sustainability. Regional Centres are operational in Asia, Europe, the Middle-East and North Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean, while Regional Offices are emerging in Africa and South Asia. National Structures are also forming in countries across the planet.

We are an open network for scientists of all disciplines, natural and social, as well as engineering, the humanities and law. We endorse world-class projects, networks and institutes who can contribute to our research agenda and are committed to transformation.

Paul Shrivastava is the Executive Director, and the Science Committee is chaired by Dr Mark Stafford Smith, with Vice-Chairs Professor Melissa Leach and Dr Belinda Reyers. The Engagement Committee is chaired by Farooq Ullah, with Vice-Chairs Tim Payn and Ruth Wolstenholme.

The Governing Council of Future Earth is composed of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), the STS forum and members of the Science and Technology Alliance for Global Sustainability. They include the International Council for Science (ICSU), the International Social Science Council (ISSC), the Belmont Forum of funding agencies, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations University (UNU), and the World Meteorological Organization.


Integrated Research System for Sustainability Science (IR3S)


IR3S was founded with a vision of building a sustainable society through linking global, social and human systems. While maintaining and developing research centers of transdisciplinary sustainability science of the highest global standards, it also aims to build an international meta-network that links research and educational institutions in developed and developing countries.

Following the adoption of the Integrated Research System for Sustainability Science initiative at the 2005 Special Coordination Funds for Promoting Science and Technology (Program for Encouraging the Development of Strategic Research Centers), an institute bearing the same name (IR3S for short) was set up at the University of Tokyo with a chancellor as its director.

By the year 2009, which was the final year of financing by the Special Coordination Funds for Promoting Science and Technology for the development of the IR3S, the institute had collaborated with 5 participating universities (Kyoto University, Osaka University, Hokkaido University and Ibaraki University) and 7 cooperating institutes (Toyo University, the National Institute for Environmental Studies, Tohoku University, Chiba University, Ritsumeikan University, Waseda University and the United Nations University). Such a network of universities and research institutes that excel in the field of sustainability science in Japan has made it possible to build research centers of the highest global standards, thus achieving substantial success.

Upon the termination of governmental financial support, the aforementioned network of universities and research institutes was succeeded by the general incorporated association Sustainability Science Consortium, SSC for short, which was newly established in May 2010. (Director: Hiroshi Komiyama, President Emeritus, the University of Tokyo)

On the other hand, the University of Tokyo has continued to run the IR3S since 2009 mainly in the form of conducting activities such as the formation of an international meta-network of sustainability science, promotion of research education and social partnerships, etc., financed by the project budget for the development of sustainability science related international research and education linkage centers contracted under Special Funds for Education and Research (Special Funds for Encouraging the Strategic Development of Research), along with other competitive funds, subcontracting project budgets from government offices, donations from private companies and other sources of funding.

In 2011, the Graduate Program in Sustainability Science – Global Leadership Initiative (GPSS-GLI), a leading doctoral program that was proposed alongside the Graduate Program in Sustainability Science (GPSS) in the Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, was adopted and thus started promoting educational and research collaboration on an international scale.

It has also been decided that from 2013 onwards, the IR3S will become a secondary research institute under the umbrella of the Todai Institutes for Advanced Study (TODIAS) which combines the world-leading research institutes within the University of Tokyo (Kavli IMPU acts as the primary research institute).


Stockholm Resilience Centre


Advances research on the governance of social-ecological systems with a special emphasis on resilience - the ability to deal with change and continue to develop

The vision of the centre is a world where social-ecological systems are understood, governed and managed, to enhance human well-being and the capacity to deal with complexity and change, for the sustainable co-evolution of human civilizations with the biosphere.

"Our societies are an integrated part of the biosphere and dependent upon functioning ecosystems. That is why we need to manage ecosystems so that we can handle the future's challenges and maintain our capacity to evolve in a positive way," says scientific director Carl Folke.

The mission of Stockholm Resilience Centre is to advance research for governance and management of social-ecological systems to secure ecosystem services for human wellbeing and resilience for long-term sustainability. The Centre applies and further develops the scientific advancements of this research within practice, policy, and in academic training.

"By combining new forms of cooperation with a holistic perspective, we hope to generate the insights that are needed to strengthen societies' and the ecosystems' capacities to meet a world which spins faster and faster," says Folke.

The centre is a joint initiative between Stockholm University and the Beijer International Institute of Ecological Economics at The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

The centre is placed under the Faculty of Science at Stockholm University but governed by an independent international board. The international board is responsible for the strategic direction of the centre, the scientific and communication achievements, the organisational structure and development, and the financial performance of the centre.

It collaborates closely with Albaeco with strategic science communication and training.

The centre is funded by the Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research, Mistra.