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Professor Dr

Johan Rockström

Year of election: 2020
Section: Earth Sciences
City: Potsdam
Country: Germany
Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement for Johan Rockström
CV Johan Rockström - English (PDF)
CV Johan Rockström - German (PDF)


Research Priorities: Earth’s Resilience in the Anthropocene, planetary boundaries, tipping points in the terrestrial system, transformation of the food system, global water resources, sustainability

Johan Rockström researches questions of global sustainability. He became known for his concept of planetary boundaries, which became a standard assumption in sustainability sciences. His research activities cover a plethora of topics reaching from the earth’s system to global sustainability in the Anthropocene.

Johan Rockström‘s work has a significant influence in the research on sustainability. His major research contributions are concerned with the limits of earth’s system under the influence of the growing population and its pressures on the systems that enable human life. The research on the concept of “planetary boundaries“ was developed under his direction. He also collected data on the state of earth across the globe. Based on this research, he identified nine processes which sumarize the stability of earth and ensure its sustainability. Under the aspect of anthropogenic changes to the environment, the concept defines for humanity a stable space of action within the physical and biochemical limits of the planet as well as other aspects. An agreeable socio-ecological development is only possible within these limits. The concept is continuously refined.

Johan Rockströms other research questions are more abstract: “What room of action will there be for future humans on earth” and “Which sustainable transformations can lead them there?” Therefore, his research priorities manifest in a multitude of thematically different activities concerning earth’s system and sustainability in the Anthropocene. Amongst them is the project “Earth Resilience in the Anthropocene”, which is supposed to survey the biophysical and social adjustments necessary for the long-term stability of earth’s system. Here, goals for the earth system which are based in science are supposed to be identified by an international scientific committee and applied in cooperation with numerous economic and political actors in order to further the framework to better understand the limits of earth’s capacity. The project “The World in 2050”, on the other hand, is about the search for sustainable paths in the transformational scenarios, which are necessary to attain the UN-goals for sustainable development within earth’s limits. The global and science-based platform on the transformation of the food system, called “EAT” will determine the groundwork for a healthy and sustainable diet, which meets the UN-targets for a sustainable development as well as the guidelines of the Paris Convention in the long term.

The project “Green Water to attain SDGs in Africa” conjoinedly models biosphere and hydrologic budget to survey the influence of climate change on the supply of water as well as management strategies. The “Alliance for Global Common Goods” wants to empower citizens, cities, and businesses to take part in the governance and preservation of global common goods.

Moreover, Johan Rockström is council to for example the European Commission, state governments and international organisations in questions of sustainable development.


  • since 2018 Director, Potsdam Institute für Climate Impact Research (PIK), Potsdam, Germany
  • since 2018 Professor, Institute for Environmental Science and Geography, University Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany
  • since 2018 Professor of Water Systems and Global, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
  • since 2018 Chief Scientist, Conservation International (CI)
  • 2007-2018 Founding Director, Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC), Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 2004-2012 Executive Director, Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), Stockholm, Sweden
  • 2000-2004 Senior Lecturer and Regional Research Coordinator “WaterNet” (Southern Africa), Institute for Hydrological Education (IHE), Delft Institute for Water Education, Delft, Netherlands
  • 1998-2000 Regional Council for Land and Water Management, Regional Land Management Unit (RELMA), Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA)
  • 1997 PhD, Institute for Systems Biology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 1995 Licenciate of Philosophy (Ph Lic), Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 1993 Diplôme d’Agronomie Approfondie, Institut National Agronomique Paris-Grignon, France
  • 1992 Master of Science in Agricultural Science, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Uppsala, Sweden


  • since 2019 Member, Mission Board for adaptation to climate change including societal transformation, European Commission
  • since 2019 Co-Chair, Earth Commission, Future Earth, Stockholm, Sweden
  • since 2018 Co-Chair, Advisory Comittee, Future Earth, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Chair, EAT Initiative on Health, Food and Sustainability, Oslo, Norway
  • Chair, Steering Committee, CGIAR’s Research Program on Water, Land, and Ecosystems, Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)
  • Member, Global Report Reference Committee, International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES)
  • Chair, Advisory Board, SRC, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Member, Reference Committee, Food and Land Use Coalition (FOLU), London, UK
  • Member, Scientific Advisory Board, Competence Center for Sustainable Finance (CCSF), University of Zurich (UZH), Zurich, Switzerland
  • Director, Food System Economics Commission (FSEC), Oslo, Norway
  • Advisory Council, Global Resilience Partnership (GRP)
  • Chair, Advisory Council, EAT Foundation, Oslo, Norway
  • Member, Curatorium, EAT Foundation, Oslo, Norway
  • Member, Board, Research Expedition Vessel (REV) Ocean, Lysaker, Norway
  • Chair, Jury of the Food Planet Prize, Curt Bergfors Foundation, Sweden
  • Trustee, Cool Earth, Cornwall, UK
  • Editor in Chief, Ecology and Society
  • Advisor, Commission on Sustainable Behavioral Change, KR Foundation, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Member, Board, KR Foundation, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Chair, Earth League
  • Member, Leadership Council, Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), United Nations (UN)
  • Member, Scientific Advisory Board, State of the Environment Report, UN Environment Programme (UNEP)
  • Member, Board, Global Challenges Foundation
  • Member, Advisory Board, Mercedes-Benz Group, Stuttgart, Germany
  • Member, Council of Experts, Global Commons Initiative


  • 2020 Advanced Grant “Earth Resilience in the Anthropocene “, European Research Council (ERC)

Honours and Memberships

  • 2024 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA
  • 2023 Position, TIME100-List, Time Magazine
  • since 2020 Member, German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, Germany
  • 2020 Prince Albert II. of Monaco Climate Change Award, Fondation Prince Albert II de Monaco, Monaco
  • 2017 Laureate, Hillary Institute of International Leadership, Christchurch, New Zealand
  • 2016 Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, L’ordre national de la Légion d’honneur, France
  • 2015 Deutscher Umweltpreis, Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt, Germany
  • 2015 International Cosmos Prize, Expo ’90 Foundation, Osaka, Japan
  • 2015 Award for Conservation Innovation, Zoological Society of London, London, UK
  • 2014 Humanitas Professor of Sustainability Science, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  • 2014 Lawrence S. Huntington Environmental Prize, Woods Hole Research Center, Falmouth, USA
  • 2013 Marsh Award for Climate Change Research, British Ecological Society, UK
  • 2013 Agronomist of the Year, Swedish Association of Professional Scientists, Sweden
  • 2012, 2013 Sweden’s Most Influential Person on the Environment, MiljöAktuellt
  • 2009 Swede of the Year, FOKUS Magazine
  • Member, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Sweden
  • Honorary Doctorate, Ghent University, Gent, Belgium and University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands




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