The mission of Future Earth is to accelerate transformations to global sustainability through research and innovation. To achieve this mission, Future Earth leads activities in four major areas:

  • We facilitate and amplify research
  • We convene and mobilise networks
  • We spark and promote innovation
  • We turn knowledge into action

Our organisation is rooted in the work of 19 Global Research Projects. These networks have a long history, in some cases stretching back decades, of generating research at the forefront of sustainability science. They played a critical role in forming the field of Earth system science – which considers how all of the parts of the planet, including human societies, connect to and shape each other. Our Global Research Projects also led in defining the Anthropocene, a new epoch in the geologic history of Earth marked by the influence of humans on the planet.

Future Earth builds on this scientific legacy to accelerate transformations to sustainability through research and innovation. With the 19 Global Research Projects, 8 Knowledge-Action-Networks, and national and regional offices and structures in over 20 countries, as well as a distributed global secretariat, we are a major international convenor that fosters a culture of engaged research based on the co-design and co-production of knowledge and tools.

We work to incorporate the latest research findings into government, business and community decisions and policies. We experiment in generating new ideas, innovations, and collaborations. In that vein, we are working with tech companies to develop new approaches to reducing carbon emissions. We also foster networks of early career researchers, practitioners, and other innovators, encouraging new ways of thinking about how sustainability research and practice gets done.

Established in 2009, the Belmont Forum is a partnership of funding organizations, international science councils, and regional consortia committed to the advancement of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary science. Forum operations are guided by the Belmont Challenge, a vision document that encourages International transdisciplinary research providing knowledge for understanding, mitigating and adapting to global environmental change.

Forum members and partner organizations work collaboratively to meet this Challenge by issuing international calls for proposals, committing to best practices for open data access, and providing transdisciplinary training.

Scientist and stakeholder support is made possible through Collaborative Research Actions (CRAs), which are the Forum equivalent of a call for proposals.  In its first five years of operation, the Forum successfully led seven calls for proposals, supporting 48 projects and more than 450 scientists and stakeholders, representing over 35 countries on 6 continents.  Themes addressed by CRAs have included Freshwater Security, Coastal Vulnerability, Food Security and Land Use Change, Climate Predictability and Inter-Regional Linkages, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, Arctic Observing and Science for Sustainability, and Mountains as Sentinels of Change. New themes are developed through a scoping process and made available for proposals through the Belmont Forum website and its Grant Operations page.


The University of Pretoria has recognized the need for inter- and transdisciplinary research and has over time invested in the creation of many inter- and transdisciplinary research collaborations in the form of cross-cutting research themes, institutes, centers and programs.

The Future Africa Institute is an initiative by the University of Pretoria to develop innovative transdisciplinary skills transfer programs to address Africa’s growth and development challenges. This major investment (US $23 million in infrastructure alone from 2014 onward) from the University of Pretoria provides advanced facilities and capacity for developing problem-oriented, interconnected and Pan-African research networks for innovation.

From Future Africa’s perspective, research specific transdisciplinarity integrates perspectives across academic disciplines, scales and sectors, understanding that linear thinking will not create the most effective solutions to global challenges.


Executive Committee

  • Dr. Erica Key, US Global Hub Director, Future Earth
  • Dr. Nicole Arbour, Executive Director, The Belmont Forum
  • Prof. Stephanie Burton, Professor, University of Pretoria

Program Committee

  • Dr. Uzma Alam, Public Health Consultant (Co-chair)
  • Dr. Veera Mitzner, Associate Director, Future Earth US Global Hub (Co-chair)
  • Prof. Bernard Slippers, Director, FABI
  • Prof. Assane Gueye, Assistant Teaching Professor, CMU-Africa
  • Reinhold Mangundu, Chairperson of the Namibian Environment and Wildlife Society
  • Ana Watson, STeP Fellow at the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI) Directorate
  • Dr. Faten Bahar, Postdoctoral Research Scientist, Tunisia Polytechnic School
  • Monika Bauer, Network and Alumni Officer, IIASA
  • Prof. Stephanie Burton, Professor, University of Pretoria
  • Nora Ndege, Doctoral Fellow, University of Sussex

Local Organizing Committee

  • Dr. Mistry Neeraj, Deputy Director, Future Africa (University of Pretoria)
  • Prof. Stephanie Burton, Professor, University of Pretoria
  • Amelia Cilliers, Project Manager, Future Africa (University of Pretoria)

Operations and Communications Team

  • Dr. Veera Mitzner, Associate Director, Future Earth US Global Hub
  • Laurel Milliken, Information Technology Officer, Future Earth
  • Dr. Maria Fernanda Enriquez, Administrative Officer, Future Earth
  • Kyoko Shiota MacAulay, Network Manager, Future Earth
  • Dr. Judit Ungvari, Co-lead, Research & Innovation, Future Earth
  • Bridget Blake, Communications Manager, Future Earth
  • Mackenzie Meter, Intern, Future Earth
  • Anna Kokareva, Intern, Future Earth
  • Dr. Amanda Shores, AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow, NSF (The Belmont Forum)
  • Dr. Shweta Ganapati, Senior Program Analyst in the Office of the Vice President of Research Grants and Scholarships at the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)
  • Carla de Jager, Carlamani Conferences and Events
  • Bridget Lombard, Edelman
  • Apiwe Mjambane, Edelman
  • Ashla Mogane, Edelman