Chair
Global Sustainability Governance
Date of appointment 01.12.2015
Profile

Frank Biermann is a research professor of Global Sustainability Governance with the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, The Netherlands. He also chairs the Earth System Governance Project, a global transdisciplinary research network launched in 2009 under the auspices of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change, and since 2015 a part of the international research alliance “Future Earth”.

Previous affiliations include Free University of Berlin, German Advisory Council on Global Change, Harvard University, Humboldt University of Berlin, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Lund University, University of Maryland at College Park, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Social Science Research Centre Berlin, Stanford University, and The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).

Biermann's current research examines multilateral institutions, options for reform of the United Nations, global adaptation governance, Sustainable Development Goals, the political role of science, global justice, non-state climate actions, and conceptual innovations such as the notion of the Anthropocene.

His most recent books are Earth System Governance: World Politics in the Anthropocene (MIT Press, 2014) and Governing through Goals: Sustainable Development Goals as Governance Innovation (MIT Press, 2017).

Many of his articles and papers can be downloaded for free at Academia.edu and Research Gate.

Involved in the following study programme(s)

MIT Press, 2017

MIT Press, 2014

MIT Press, 2012

Elgar 2012

Cambridge University Press, 2010

MIT Press, 2009

Routledge, 2009

Ashgate 2005
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Curriculum vitae

Frank Biermann is research professor of Global Sustainability Governance with the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development at Utrecht University, The Netherlands. Biermann also chairs the Earth System Governance Project, a global transdisciplinary research network launched in 2009 under the auspices of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change, and since 2015 a part of the international research alliance ‘Future Earth’.

Biermann’s current research examines multilateral institutions, options for reform of the United Nations, global adaptation governance, climate engineering, Sustainable Development Goals, the political role of science, global justice, and conceptual innovations such as the notion of the Anthropocene. He pioneered the ‘earth system governance’ paradigm in global change research in 2005, which yields over 130,000 Google hits today and has led to numerous publications and conferences. Biermann has authored, co-authored or edited 16 books, and published 182 articles in peer-reviewed journals and chapters in academic books, along with more than 100 papers, reports, and contributions to policy-oriented journals. His most recent books are Earth System Governance: World Politics in the Anthropocene (MIT Press, 2014) and Governing through Goals: Sustainable Development Goals as Governance Innovation (MIT Press, 2017). Biermann’s research has been cited over 9700 times, and his Hirsch-index in Google Scholar is 51. Several of his articles belong to the top-10 most cited papers in their respective journals. Biermann is the co-editor of the Earth System Governance book series with The MIT Press, member of four editorial boards, and reviewer for numerous academic journals. He is frequently invited to governmental commissions and panels and has spoken among others in the United Nations General Assembly, the European Parliament, and the European Economic and Social Committee.

In 2003-2015, Biermann was professor and head of the Department of Environmental Policy Analysis at the Institute for Environmental Studies, VU University Amsterdam. Towards the end of his term, this department was internationally evaluated as being ‘world leading’ and ‘one of the highest profile academic research groups involved with sustainability governance from around the world’. From 2007-2014, he also directed the Netherlands Research School for Socio-Economic and Natural Sciences of the Environment, a national alliance of eleven research institutes, over 200 tenured environmental scientists and 600 PhD students that was evaluated in 2014 as a ‘network of excellence’. In 2001-2011, Biermann further led the Global Governance Project, a joint research programme of 12 European institutes with about 40 affiliated researchers. Biermann has also been the initiator and first chair, in 2001, of the Berlin Conferences on the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change, which have evolved since then into a bi-annual series of widely-attended academic gatherings. Earlier professional or visiting affiliations include the Free University of Berlin, German Advisory Council on Global Change, Harvard University, Humboldt University of Berlin, the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (Potsdam), Jawaharlal Nehru University, Lund University, University of Maryland at College Park, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Social Science Research Centre Berlin, Stanford University, and The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).

Biermann has over two decades of teaching experience in Germany, India, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United States. At present, he teaches the course Foundations of Earth System Governance Research in the first term of the MSc Sustainable Development at Utrecht University. Thirteen of his PhD students have graduated so far; four with highest distinction and five winning international awards. Three former PhD students are now full professors.

Biermann has won several scholarships, grants and awards, including the 2013 Societal Impact Award of VU University Amsterdam for ‘path-breaking research on global environmental policy’; the 2011 Social Science Research Prize of VU University Amsterdam, awarded for ‘outstanding qualities as a top researcher’ and ‘significant contributions’ in the field of global environmental politics; the 1998 Joachim Tiburtius Prize awarded for the best dissertations of the three Berlin universities; a fellowship from Harvard University; and a scholarship from the Talented Students Programme of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. Biermann is an elected Fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science, a group of 700 individuals ‘chosen for eminence in art, the natural and social sciences, and the humanities’.

Biermann holds a Habilitation in Political Science (German postdoctoral academic qualification, 2001), a PhD in Political Science summa cum laude from Freie Universität Berlin (1997), and master’s degrees in Political Science (Freie Universität Berlin, 1993) and International Law (University of Aberdeen, 1994), both with distinction.

January 2018

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For up-to-date lists of my publications, please visit my online profiles:

Many of my publications can be downloaded for free at

The following publications have appeared or been accepted since I have joined Utrecht University:

All publications
  2018
Biermann, Frank (2018). Global governance in the "Anthropocene". In Chris Brown & Robyn Eckersley (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of International Political Theory (pp. 467-478). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Biermann, Frank (2018). International environmental institutions. In Noel Castree, Mike Hulme & James Proctor (Eds.), The Companion to Environmental Studies London: Routledge.
  2017
Biermann, Frank (2017). Transnational environmental governance. In Douglas Richardson, Noel Castree, Michael F. Goodchild, Audrey Kobayashi, Weidong Liu & Richard A. Marston (Eds.), The International Encyclopedia of Geography - People, the Earth, Environment, and Technology Wiley-Blackwell.
Biermann, Frank & Boas, Ingrid (2017). Towards a global governance system to protect climate migrants - Taking stock. In Benoît Mayer & François Crépeau (Eds.), Research Handbook on Climate Change, Migration and the Law (pp. 405-419). Edward Elgar Publishing.
Biermann, Frank & Kanie, Norichika (2017). Conclusion - Key challenges for global governance through goals. In Norichika Kanie & Frank Biermann (Eds.), Governing through Goals - Sustainable Development Goals as Governance Innovation (pp. 295-309). Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.
Biermann, Frank, Kanie, Norichika & Kim, Rak (2017). Global governance by goal-setting: the novel approach of the UN Sustainable Development Goals - Open issue, part II. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 26-27 (Supplement C), (pp. 26-31) (6 p.).
Biermann, Frank, Stevens, Casey, Bernstein, Steven, Gupta, Aarti, Kanie, Norichika, Nilsson, Måns & Scobie, Michelle (2017). Global goal setting for improving national governance and policy. In Norichika Kanie & Frank Biermann (Eds.), Governing Through Goals - Sustainable Development Goals as Governance Innovation (pp. 75-97). Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.
Kanie, Norichika & Biermann, Frank (2017). Governing through Goals - Sustainable Development Goals as Governance Innovation. (352 p.). Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.
Kanie, Norichika, Bernstein, Steven, Biermann, Frank & Haas, Peter M. (2017). Introduction - Global governance through goal setting. In Norichika Kanie & Frank Biermann (Eds.), Governing through Goals - Sustainable Development Goals as Governance Innovation (pp. 1-27). Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.
Klinsky, Sonja, Roberts, J. Timmons, Huq, Saleemul, Okereke, Chukwumerije, Newell, Peter, Dauvergne, Peter, O'Brien, Karen, Schroeder, Heike, Tschakert, Petra, Clapp, Jennifer, Keck, Margeret, Biermann, Frank, Liverman, Diana, Gupta, Joyeeta, Rahman, Atiq, Messner, Dirk, Pellow, David & Bauer, Steffen (2017). Why equity is fundamental in climate change. Global Environmental Change, 44, (pp. 170-173).
Morseletto, Piero, Biermann, Frank & Pattberg, Philipp (2017). Governing by targets - Reductio ad unum and evolution of the two-degree climate target. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 17 (5), (pp. 655-676).
Osunmuyiwa, Olufolahan, Biermann, F.H.B. & Kalfagianni, A. (2017). Applying the Multi-level Perspective on Socio-technical transitions to Rentier States: The Case of Renewable Energy Transitions in Nigeria. Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning
Sénit, Carole-Anne, Biermann, Frank & Kalfagianni, Agni (2017). The representativeness of global deliberation - A critical assessment of civil society consultations for sustainable development. Global Policy, 8 (1), (pp. 62-72).
Velis, Maya, Conti, Kirstin I. & Biermann, Frank (2017). Groundwater and human development: synergies and trade-offs within the context of the sustainable development goals. Sustainability Science, 12 (6), (pp. 1007-1017) (11 p.).
  2016
Atalay, Yasemin, Biermann, Frank & Kalfagianni, Agni (2016). Adoption of renewable energy technologies in oil-rich countries: Explaining policy variation in the Gulf Cooperation Council states. Renewable Energy, 85, (pp. 206-214) (9 p.).
Bai, X., van der Leeuw, S., O'Brien, K., Berkhout, F., Biermann, F., Brondizio, E.S., Cudennec, C., Dearing, J., Duraiappah, A., Glaser, M., Revkin, A., Steffen, W. & Syvitski, J. (2016). Plausible and desirable futures in the Anthropocene: A new research agenda. Global Environmental Change, 39, (pp. 351-362) (12 p.).
Bennett, Elena, Solan, Martin, Biggs, Reinette, McPhearson, Timon, Norström, Albert, Olsson, Per, Pereira, Laura, Peterson, Garry, Raudsepp-Hearne, Ciara, Biermann, Frank, Carpenter, Stephen, Ellis, Erle, Hichert, Tanja, Galaz, Victor, Lahsen, Myanna, Milkoreit, Manjana, Martin-López, Berta, Nicolas, Kimberly, Preiser, Rika, Vince, Gaia, Vervoort, Joost & Xu, Jianchu (2016). Bright Spots - Seeds of a good Anthropocene. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 14 (8), (pp. 441-448).
Biermann, F., Bai, X., Bondre, N., Broadgate, W., Arthur Chen, C.-T., Dube, O.P., Erisman, J.W., Glaser, M., van der Hel, S., Lemos, M.C., Seitzinger, S. & Seto, K.C. (2016). Down to Earth: Contextualizing the Anthropocene. Global Environmental Change, 39, (pp. 341-350) (10 p.).
Biermann, Frank (2016). Politics for a new Earth - Governing in the "Anthropocene". In Simon Nicholson & Sikina Jinnah (Eds.), Politics for a New Earth - Essays from the Anthropocene (pp. 405-420) (16 p.). Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.
Boas, Ingrid, Biermann, Frank & Kanie, Norichika (2016). Cross-sectoral strategies in global sustainability governance: Towards a nexus approach. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 16 (3), (pp. 449-464) (16 p.).
Brondizio, Eduardo S., O'Brien, Karen, Bai, Xuemei, Biermann, Frank, Steffen, Will, Berkhout, Frans, Cudennec, Christophe, Lemos, Maria Carmen, Wolfe, Alexander, Palma-Oliveira, Jose & Chen, Chen-Tung Arthur (2016). Re-conceptualizing the Anthropocene. A call for collaboration. Global Environmental Change, 39, (pp. 318-327) (10 p.).
Heinrichs, Harald & Biermann, Frank (2016). Sustainability - Politics and governance. In H. Heinrichs, P. Martens, G. Michelsen & A. Wiek (Eds.), Sustainability Science (pp. 129-137) (9 p.). Springer.
Pauw, W.P., Klein, R.J.T., Vellinga, P. & Biermann, F. (01.02.2016). Private finance for adaptation: do private realities meet public ambitions?. Climatic Change, 134 (4), (pp. 489-503).
Senit, Carole-Anne, Kalfagianni, A. & Biermann, Frank (2016). Cyberdemocracy? Information and Communication Technologies in Civil Society Consultations for Sustainable Development. Global Governance, 22 (4), (pp. 533-554) (22 p.).
  2015
Biermann, Frank (2015). Reform options. In Karin Bäckstrand & Eva Lövbrand (Eds.), Research Handbook on Climate Governance (pp. 516-525) (10 p.). Edward Elgar Publishing.
Heubaum, H. & Biermann, F. (2015). Integrating global energy and climate governance: The changing role of the International Energy Agency. Energy Policy, 87, (pp. 229-239) (11 p.). cited By 0.
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F.H.B. Biermann () Elected Fellow, World Academy of Art and Science
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Current Research Projects

Since 2009, I am chairing the Earth System Governance Project, a long-term international research programme that was originally set up as a Core Project of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP). In 2015, the Project has become part of the new global umbrella programme ‘Future Earth’. The Earth System Governance Project’s Science Plan is implemented since 2009 through a new global network of affiliated researchers, including about 300 research fellows and 50 lead faculty members; a global series of annual open science conferences, with events in Amsterdam (2007, 2009), Colorado (2011), Lund (2012 and 2017), Tokyo (2013), East Anglia (2014), Australian National University (2015), and Nairobi (2016); a global alliance of Earth System Governance Research Centres; a global network of task forces, affiliated projects, and smaller events; and a network of social media outlets, internet fora and affiliated publication series, including with MIT Press. The international project office is hosted by Lund University, Sweden. I will step down from leading this network in November 2018, and focus in the next two years on the harvesting process that brings the project’s findings together. See www.earthsystemgovernance.org for more information.

In addition, I am setting up with Agni Kalfagianni a new global research network on Planetary Justice.

With Norichika Kanie of Keio University and other colleagues, I have just concluded a book project on Sustainable Development Goals, which has been published in 2017 with MIT Press; Norichika and I continue our collaboration on this topic.

I am also working with an international group of integrated assessment modellers to explore the socio-economic implications of the novel concept of ‘tipping points’.

A further new research topic is the governance of climate engineering, where I collaborate with Aarti Gupta of Wageningen University, Sikina Jinnah of University of California at Santa Cruz, and Ina Möller of Lund University.

With Eva Lövbrand of Linköping University and many others, we are developing a new project on the impacts of the new “Anthropocene Paradigm” especially in the field of political science. Our research team critically analyzes and contrasts how the Anthropocene concept and its proposed ‘end of nature’ is interpreted, figured and narrated across discursive domains; how the proposition that nature has ended may reconfigure the theory and practice of environmental politics; and what consequences the Anthropocene concept may have for the academic field and practice of political science.

Furthermore, I am studying with Sander Chan and Friederike Eichhorn of German Development Institute the effectiveness of non-state climate governance initiatives as part of the implementation of the new Paris Agreement under the climate convention.

 

PhD Supervision

I am passionate about mentoring younger researchers, always striving to motivate them to not only excel in their scientific pursuits but also to put their newly acquired knowledge to use in society. Five of my PhD students have won international or national awards for their doc­toral work, including one best book award, two best paper awards and two dissertation awards. Most former PhD students now hold prestigious academic postdoctoral and junior faculty positions; three are full professors. I have led numerous training programmes for doctoral students, including a five-year Marie Curie Summer School, and served for seven years as director of the Netherlands Research School for Socio-Economic and Natural Sciences of the Environment, which organizes education programmes for over 600 PhD students.

Utrecht University is an excellent host institution to undertake demanding doctoral research. For 14 years our university has continuously been listed as the best Dutch university in the international Academic Ranking of World Universities. In ‘Environmental Sciences’, Utrecht University is ranked as the 13th best university world-wide. Within Utrecht University, our PhD students are part of the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, a world-leading centre for sustainability research and teaching that has been ranked as the best research centre in the most recent international evaluation of Environmental and Sustainability Sciences in the Netherlands.

I welcome up to two highly qualified new PhD students who specialise in global sustainability governance each year. At times, we can offer fully funded PhD positions that cover a four-year salary and generous social security benefits. Such positions, once available, are widely advertised through our social media networks and filled in international competitions. In addition, we accept self-funded PhD students, including researchers who are based at other research institutions but seek to pursue their doctoral training at Utrecht University. As a Dutch public university, we do not charge tuition fees for doctoral education. There is no formal course work for doctoral students, but all of my PhD students are expected to join the Netherlands Research School for Socio-economic and Natural Sciences of the Environment (SENSE) and take some of their classes.

At present, I am supervising eight PhD students, including Dona Barirani; Eleni Dellas (based at VU University Amsterdam); Adis Dzebo (in cooperation with Stockholm Environment Institute); Sandra van der Hel (winner of the 2015 Oran R. Young Prize); Matthias Honegger (in cooperation with Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies); Karlijn Muiderman; Sara Ramirez-Gomez (in cooperation with Tropenbos); and Yanuardi (financed by Government of Indonesia).

My former PhD students include Professor Harro van Asselt (graduated with distinction; winner of 2014 PhD Award of the Netherlands Research School for Socio-economic and Natural Sciences of the Environment; now full professor, University of Eastern Finland); Dr Steffen Bauer (winner of International Studies Association ‘Environmental Studies Graduate Student Paper Award’ in 2005; now senior researcher, German Development Institute); Dr Ingrid Boas (now VENI laureate and assistant professor, Wageningen University); Dr Stijn Brouwer (now senior researcher, KWR Water­cycle Research Institute); Dr Sander Chan (now senior researcher and project leader, German Development Institute); Dr Klaus Dingwerth (summa cum laude, German National Academic Foundation laureate; now full professor of Political Theory, University of St Gallen); Dr Aysem Mert (now assistant professor, Stockholm University); Professor Philipp Pattberg (summa cum laude; dissertation won 2009 Science Prize of German Political Science Association; now full professor at VU University Amsterdam); Dr Pieter Pauw (now researcher, German Development Institute); Dr Carole-Anne Sénit; and Dr Fariborz Zelli (summa cum laude; dissertation won dissertation prize of University of Tübingen; now associate professor, Lund University).

(last update: January 2018)

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I have over two decades of teaching experience in Germany, India, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United States. At present, I teach the course “Foundations of Earth System Governance Research”, which introduces the “Earth System Governance” specialization of our MSc in Sustainable Development programme. In addition, I contribute lectures to the courses “International Environmental Governance” and “Research Design” in the same MSc programme. I also contribute lectures to our new and highly successful Bachelor of Science in Global Sustainability Science.

Each academic year, I supervise four MSc thesis projects of 30 or 45 European credit points. In the current academic year, I focus on MSc thesis supervision on topics related to global (environmental) justice; climate engineering; and global environmental democracy.

I do no longer supervise MSc thesis projects that solely address national or local environmental problems.

I am not able to supervise research visits or internship projects unless placed in the context of the Global Alliance of Earth System Governance Research Centres.

The language of education in all our BSc and MSc programmes is English.

(last update: November 2017)

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Additional functions and activities

Co-Editor, Earth System Governance series, The MIT Press

Chair, Scientific Steering Committee, Earth System Governance Project

Chair, Earth System Governance Foundation

Co-chair, 2018 Utrecht Conference on Earth System Governance

 

Memberships (selected):

German Research Foundation: Senate Standing Committee on Fundamental Questions of Biological Diversity (Ständige Senatskommission für Grundsatzfragen der biologischen Vielfalt)

European Academies: Working Group Food from the Oceans

Stockholm Environment Institute: Science Advisory Council

‘Strengthening Non-state Climate Action in the Global South’ (African Centre for Technology Studies, Oxford University, German Development Institute, and The Energy and Resources Institute): International Advisory Board

Utrecht Centre for Global Challenges: Scientific Advisory Board

Yale University: External Advisory Board, ‘Governance, Environment, and Markets Initiative’

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Full name
prof. dr. F.H.B. Biermann Contact details
Willem C. van Unnikgebouw

Heidelberglaan 2
Room 1124
3584 CS  UTRECHT
The Netherlands


Phone number (direct) +31 30 253 5580
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Last updated 11.01.2018