President / German Environment Agency
Prof. Dr. Dirk Messner, born on 23 April 1962, assumed the office of President of the German
Environment Agency on 1 January 2020. He is also the Co-Director of the Käte Hamburger
Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen.
Prof. Messner previously served as Director of the Institute for Environment and Human
Security of United Nations University (UNU-EHS) in Bonn, Germany, and Vice Rector of the
United Nations University (UNU).
Prof. Messner is an internationally recognised expert on globalisation / global governance,
transformation pathways to sustainability, decarbonization of the global economy,
sustainability and digital change, and international cooperation and societal change.
He combines his research interests with teaching activities and is currently professor
of political science at the University of Duisburg-Essen. In his scientific career, Prof.
Messner has chaired various different international research initiatives and is currently cocoordinator
of “The World in 2050”, a global research consortium on the implementation of
the Agenda 2030.
Prof. Messner is a member of Earth League, an alliance of prominent sustainability and
earth system scholars. He has also been a member of a number of high-ranking policy
advisory councils, including co-chairing the German Advisory Council on Global Change
(WBGU), the Sustainable Development Solutions Network Germany and the Science
Platform Sustainability 2030. He has also served as a member of the World Bank’s Global
Knowledge Council and the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and
Prior to becoming Director of UNU-EHS in October 2018, Prof. Messner had been Director of
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
Prof. Messner has a PhD in political science (Dr. rer. pol.) and earned his post-doctoral
qualifications at Freie Universität Berlin. He is the author / co-author of more than 300
publications. Examples of his recent work are “G20 und Global Governance” (Oxford
University Press, 2018), “The evolution of human cooperation - lessons learned for the future of global governance” (Routledge, 2016), “Germany and the World 2030: What will
change. How we must act.” (Econ 2018), “Global cooperation and the human factor in
international relations” (Routledge, 2016), “Six Transformations to Achieve the Sustainable
Development Goals” (Nature Sustainability, 2019).
Prof. Messner also served as the Academic Director of the University of Duisburg-Essen’s
Institute for Development and Peace from 1995 to 2002. From 1995 to 2003, he worked as
a private lecturer in the Faculty for Political Science at the University of Duisburg-Essen and
Freie Universität Berlin. He was Professor of Political Science at the University of Munich in
In addition to being a mother tongue speaker of German, Prof. Messner is also fluent in
English and Spanish.