The National Research Foundation (NRF) is pleased to announce that Dr Albert van Jaarsveld has been appointed as the new Director-General and CEO of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Austria, effective 1 October 2018. Dr van Jaarsveld is currently the Vice-Chancellor and Principle of the University of Kwazulu-Natal, and former CEO of the NRF. He succeeds outgoing Director-General Professor Pavel Kabat who will become the first Chief Scientist of the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on 1 September 2018.
IIASA is an independent, international scientific institute established in 1946 that conducts policy-oriented research into grand challenges or problems that are too large or complex to be solved by a single country. IIASA has 23 member countries representing 71% of the world’s economy and 63% of the world’s population (http://www.iiasa.ac.at/).
“We are delighted that Albert van Jaarsveld will become IIASA’s eleventh Director General,” said Professor Mike Clegg, Chair of the IIASA Council which made the appointment today. “He brings to IIASA wide-ranging experience in research management, administration, and scientific leadership. On behalf of the IIASA Council, which represents the interests of science academies and national research funders in 23 nations around the world, I warmly welcome Dr van Jaarsveld to IIASA”.
“Leading IIASA into the next decade greatly motivates me,” explained Dr van Jaarsveld. “I am passionate both about protecting the environment and about using science as a force for positive change at the global level—both of which are central to IIASA’s work and mission. I look forward to working with IIASA staff, its National Member Organizations, and IIASA’s large network of collaborators across the world for a better future.”
Since South Africa’s membership to IIASA during 2007, a range of research collaboration and capacity building activities have been developed by IIASA and more than twenty South African research partners. A prominent aspect of the development of the IIASA and South Africa engagement was the launch of the Southern African Young Scientists Summer Programme (SA-YSSP) that has developed system analytical research skills of more than 80 doctoral students from 30 countries including 35 students from South Africa during 2012-2014.
In direct response to the success of the SA-YSSP, the Minister of Science and Technology of South Africa officially launched the Southern African Systems Analysis Centre (SASAC) during 2016. SASAC, co-hosted in South Africa by the Universities of the Western Cape, Limpopo, Witwatersrand and Stellenbosch, provides an opportunity for young, emerging doctoral candidates to advance their research under the supervision of senior IIASA and South African researchers/scientists, and at the same time contribute to the development of a globally competitive science system.
South Africa’s coordination with IIASA is led by a National Member Organisation (NMO), comprised of representatives of the NRF and DST, senior academics, and other stakeholders. The NMO Committee also contributes to the national strategy of developing systems analysis capacity and establishing systems analysis as a research approach in the country.
Dr Albert van Jaarsveld’s career in research, teaching and leadership include academic and management positions at the Universities of Pretoria and Stellenbosch, as Dean of Science, Adjunct Professor: Environmental Studies Programme at Dartmouth College, USA, as Vice-President and later CEO of the NRF, and as Vice-Chancellor. He obtained his PhD in Zoology from the University of Pretoria, pursued post-doctoral studies and research in Conservation Biology and Global Security in Australia and the UK respectively and completed executive management training at Harvard University. His research work focussed on biodiversity and conservation planning, biodiversity and climate change as well as ecosystem services. He has published in excess of 100 primary research papers, including highly cited works in Science and Nature, and is a former B-rated NRF researcher. Dr van Jaarsveld is recipient of numerous Professional Awards, including awards as an Outstanding Young Scientist; Outstanding Academic Achiever; the Chancellor’s award for Excellence in Tuition and Learning from the University of Pretoria; the University of Stellenbosch Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Research Excellence; and the Centenary Medal for distinguished career in research, teaching and leadership from the “South African Academy of Science and Arts”. He is co-recipient of the International Zayed prize for the Environment, and a member of several professional and academic organisations and associations, including as Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa and an elected member of the South African Academy of Sciences. In addition, he has served as co-chair of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment follow-up: Sub-global assessments; member of the ICSU nominations committee; as IPBES science focal point; Chair of the G8 science ministers Group of Senior Officials on Global Research Infrastructure; Chair of the International Group of Funding Agencies (IGFA), Co-Chair of the Belmont Forum and as a member of the ICSU review panel (2013-2014).