Prof. Joseph Alcamo is Chief Scientist of the United Nations Environment Programme and the first Chief Scientist appointed within the UN system. Since coming to UNEP in 2009, he has been working to strengthen the interface between global science and policy. He has convened groups of scientists to produce quick response reports for policy making on climate change, air pollution, ozone layer depletion, and food security issues.
While at UNEP he has helped found the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, an alliance of governments and non-state partners dedicated to fast action on pollutants that cause both air pollution and climate change. At UNEP he has also initiated an international "Foresight" process for identifying emerging issues, co-founded a new umbrella organization for climate impact science (PROVIA), co-organized the UN Global Assessment of Water Quality, and helped found Future Earth a new international framework for global change research.
He is on leave as Director of the Center for Environmental Systems Research at the University of Kassel, Germany and Professor of Environmental Systems Science and Engineering. His main scientific contributions have been in the areas of global modelling of the environment, integrated assessment modelling, environmental scenario analysis, and climate impact research with a focus on the impacts of climate change on water resources.
Earlier, Alcamo led the development of the IMAGE 2 model, one of the first integrated models of climate change, and was co-author of the IPCC SRES emission scenarios which have been used for ten years as a main input for projecting climate change. He has been active with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for more than 15 years. He has published widely on the subject of climate change impacts on water resources and land use, and produced six books on global environmental themes including the 1998 book Global Change Scenarios of the 21st Century (Pergamon Press), and the 2012 book on "Life in Europe under Climate Change (Wiley-Blackwell). He was a Coordinating Lead Author with the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) and coordinated the global modeling of MA scenarios.
He is co-founder of the Global Water System Project of the Earth System Science Partnership, and through this project and other activities has strongly promoted water research on the global scale. In the 1990s his team in Kassel developed one of the first global water resource models, WaterGAP, which has since been used in many global assessments and studies of the world water system. Later he contributed to the first World Water Vision scenarios, and he recently led the development of one of the first continental-scale models of ambient river water quality.
He received the Max Planck Research Prize for helping to develop the field of integrated modelling of the environment, and is a recipient of the Grand Prix des Lumires de l'Eau de Cannes for contributions to global water research.