Vice-Chair, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Professor SOKONA was until end of October 2020 Senior Advisor for Sustainable Development at the South Centre. Prior to this, he has a proven track record of organizational leadership and management, for example as Executive Secretary for International Relations and Coordinator of Energy Program of the organization Environment and Development (ENDA), as Inaugural Coordinator of the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) and as Executive Secretary of the Sahara and the Sahel Observatory (OSS). Prof SOKONA’s advice is highly sought after, and as such, he is affiliated with numerous boards and organisations, including as Honorary Professor at the University College London (UCL), Member of African Academy of Sciences, Member of The World Academy of Science, Special Advisor to the African Energy Leaders Group, Member of the Advisory Board of the Payne Institute for Public Policy, Colorado School of Mines, USA. In 2007 he received a personal certificate from the Nobel Committee marking his ‘significant contribution’ to the work of the IPCC, which received a joint award of the Nobel Peace Prize that year.In short, Prof SOKONA is a global figure, with deep technical knowledge, extensive policy experience and an unreserved personal commitment to African led development. Professor SOKONA’s scientific achievements, over a career spanning more than 4 decades, revolve around the relationship between energy, environment, and water systems with development outcomes in Africa, within the constraints of ecological and climate change. He has led numerous initiatives and organizations with the mission to explore the food, water and energy interface in the context of sustainable development throughout his career.
Professor SOKONA was active in this ‘nexus’ research and practice, long before the need to apply systems thinking entered the global research agenda. He has published widely in this field and has led first-rate research teams, laying out leading-edge research agenda, and making ground-breaking contributions in the fields of sustainability assessment, practice and policy. As one of leading African thinkers in the deployment of multiple disciplines towards sustainable solutions, Professor SOKONA has worked very closely with industry and non-governmental organizations in the spirit of co-production of knowledge and evidence-based for policy making. This demonstrates his deep conviction on the need to complement technical interventions with assessments of social preferences and cultural acceptability of proposed solutions. This may be a mainstream view today, but it took the hard work and imagination of some
innovative individuals who were prepared to test new ways to ‘think’ and fuse knowledge from different disciplines. Professor SOKONA is one of these pioneers, trained as an engineer but determined to break away from the ‘silo mentality’ that often affects academics/researchers by choosing to work across disciplines. This philosophy has shaped his work on sustainability and systems approach, and has allowed his work to be wide-ranging in their sectoral reach and methodological depth.