Messner, Dirk

Director of UNU-EHS

  • Dirk Messner
    Executive Office


    • 1988: Diplompolitologe (graduate political scientist) in Political Science and Economics, Free University of Berlin
    • 1987: Guest visit to Sogang University, Seoul (in the scope of the research project: Political Regulation in the "Great Crisis")
    • 1995: PhD, Otto-Suhr-Institut / FU Berlin
    • 2002: Habilitation procedure at the FU Berlin


    • 2013 to Present: Co-Chair, German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU)
    • 2011 to Present: Co-Director, Centre for Global Cooperation Research / Käte Hamburger Kolleg, University of Duisburg-Essen
    • 2003 to 2018: Director of the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
    • 2012 to 2018: Member of the Global Knowledge Council of the World Bank
    • 2007 to 2017: Member of the China Council on International Cooperation on Environment and Development
    • Member of the Scientific Advisory Council of Conservation International
    • 2009 to 2015: Member of the Scientific Advisory Council on Global Development and International Cooperation of the European Commission
    • Member of the Scientific Advisory Council of the Urbanization Center of the World Resources Institute, Washington, D.C.
    • Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of Austrian Panel on Climate Change
    • Member of the Steering Committee of the Green Growth Strategy, Global Green Growth Institute, Seoul
    • Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)
    • President of the International Advisory Council of the Research Programme Causes of and Solutions to Social Conflicts in Contexts of Fragility (Schweizer Nationalfonds zur Förderung der Wissenschaftlichen Forschung)
    • Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of Instituto Iberoamericana, Berlin
    • Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Zentrum für Entwicklung und Umwelt/ ZEU, University of Giessen
    • Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Center for Chinese-Mexican Studies, UNAM, Mexico City
    • Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Center for Global Governance and the Rule of Law, China University
    • Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of Stiftung Preussische Kulturbesitz
    • Member of the Advisory Group Peace and Conflict Research, German Foreign Office
    • Member of the Scientific Steering Group Fortschritt NRW, Landesregierung von NRW

    Biographical Statement

    Prof. Dr. Dirk Messner is the director of the Institute for Environment and Human Security of United Nations University (UNU-EHS). He is also the Co-Director of the “Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research” at the University of Duisburg-Essen.

    He is an internationally recognized expert on the topics of global change, digitalization, and sustainable development, transformation towards the decarbonization of the global economy, global governance and evolution of human cooperation.

    Throughout his professional life, Prof. Messner has combined his research interests with teaching activities and he currently serves as a professor of political science at the University of Duisburg-Essen. Moreover Prof. Messner has been chairing or coordinating different international research initiatives. Currently he is one of the coordinators of “The World in 2050”, a global research consortium on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

    Prof. Messner is a member of a number of high-ranking policy advisory councils and his engagements include co-chairing the “German Advisory Council on Global Change”, the “Sustainable Development Solutions Network Germany” and the “Science Platform Sustainability 2030”. He previously also served as a member of the “Global Knowledge Council of the Worldbank” and the “China Council on Global Cooperation on Development and Environment”.

    Prior to joining UNU-EHS, Prof. Messner led the “German Development Institute” since 2003. Under his leadership the institute developed an excellent reputation for its scientific and policy-relevant research on global sustainable development. Prof. Messner is the author or co-author of more than 300 publications. A native of Germany, Prof. Messner is also fluent in English and Spanish.

    Browse through a complete list of his publications here.