Future Earth: Executive Director


Future Earth is a major international research programme for global sustainability. We provide international facilitation and coordination of research around the greatest challenges facing humanity – and engage policy, business and the public in exploring ways to address these challenges.

We are looking for an outstanding Executive Director to provide strong leadership and guide the implementation of Future Earth’s broad and ambitious vision and scientific strategy.  The successful candidate will be effective in further raising the visibility and value of Future Earth, and attracting funding for this implementation.

Future Earth is made up of multiple networks, projects and programmes involving scientists from many disciplines working voluntarily towards the goals of Future Earth. The successful candidate will be a team player with excellent diplomacy skills who can bring these disciplines and cultures together in an environment of mutual respect and trust.

An important characteristic of the successful candidate will be his or her ability to strike a balance between accountability towards these multiple stakeholders and dedication to building a delivery-oriented environment for the hub directors and their teams by developing an agile, responsive work culture that fosters continuous learning and improvement.


  • Deliver the next stage of the Future Earth implementation plan.
  • Build trust, excitement and energy in the Future Earth networks and stakeholders in the vision of the organisation.
  • Secure a step change in funding for research and engagement for global sustainability.
  • Develop and grow key partnerships and relationships with other networks, initiatives and governments.
  • Lead a growing international team and build mechanisms to engage Future Earth’s regional and national networks.
  • Raise the profile of the organisation among key stakeholders and media.
  • Provide liaison between the secretariat and the Governing Council, Scientific Committee and Engagement Committee.


  • 10-years experience in a senior executive leadership role within a complex international organisation.
  • Leader in global sustainability research with a good academic track record. We encourage applicants from social sciences, humanities, law, engineering and physical and natural sciences.
  • Successful personal track record in fund raising.
  • Deep knowledge of the research networks and policy processes both internationally and regionally (UNFCCC, CBD, IPCC, IPBES, SDGs).
  • A strong, and user-centric vision for implementing the objectives of Future Earth.
  • A track record in and commitment to organisational development processes and practices that support innovation.
  • An excellent public speaker with media experience.
  • Experience of co-designed research with stakeholders; working across scientific disciplines, including natural and social sciences; capacity building; working with the South and youth.
  • Excellent formal and informal written and oral communication skills.
  • Full command of written and spoken English; working knowledge of other languages is considered an advantage.
  • Ability to travel extensively.
  • Cares about interactions and individuals as well as processes and tools.

Application procedure

Applicants are requested to submit a curriculum vitae together with a cover letter describing their vision for Future Earth, the challenges and opportunities they foresee and how their skills and experience would help them meet the requirements of the role. Please also include the name and contact details of three referees and details of current salary. Applications (preferably in one combined PDF file) should be sent via email with “Future Earth Executive Director” in the subject line to recruitment@icsu.org. The closing date for applications is 3 February 2017, midnight CET.

For more information on Future Earth, please see the Future Earth website.

Click here for more information and to apply