Ian Burton



WAAS Designation:


Primary Position & Institution:

1. University of Toronto. Professor Emeritus.

Short Bio:

Ian Burton is Emeritus Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Toronto, where he also directed the Environmental Institute (now School of the Environment). He is also Scientist Emeritus with Environment Canada and a Visiting Fellow with the International Institute for Environment and Development. He was previously Director of Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation with the Meteorological Service of Canada, and Senior Policy Advisor during the Rio de Janeiro, UN Conference on Environment and Development in 1992. He served as Vice-Chair and then Director of the International Federation of Institutes for Advanced Study (IFIAS) 1984-1992. Ian now works primarily in the interface between science and policy at national and international levels, especially on climate change and environmental risks and “natural” disasters. He is currently working with the International Council for Science (ICSU) on the new programme Integrated Research on Disaster Risk. (irdrinternational.org). In this capacity he is co-chair of a Working Group on Forensic Investigations of Disasters. He has been a member of Canadian delegations to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Ian served as a Convening Lead Author for a Special Report on Extremes and as Lead Author for three Assessment Reports of IPCC. In this capacity he shared in the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the IPCC and Al Gore in 2007. He recently served as co-chair of the Expert Advisory Panel on Climate Change Adaptation to the Government of Ontario (2004-2009), and as co-chair of an Expert Advisory Group to the Pilot Programme on Climate Resilience at the World Bank. Ian has also been working as a consultant to the UNFCCC Secretariat in Bonn, and to UNDP, UNEP, and a variety of Canadian government agencies including the International Development Research Centre. He also has worked with USAID and the UK and Danish agencies for international development. Earlier in his career Ian worked with the Ford Foundation in India, Sudan and Nigeria. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1984 and a Fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science in 1985, and has been a Trustee since 2011. He recently was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and an honorary degree at the University of Waterloo.