Griffith water science expert named ‘Earth Commissioner’ 

Professor Stuart Bunn, Australian Rivers Institute

A Griffith University scientist is among the handful of experts named an ‘Earth Commissioner’ by an international organisation to address the risks and targets to regulate the earth’s stability. 

Professor Stuart Bunn, Director of Griffith’s Australian Rivers Institute, is one of the world’s 19 leading scientists announced by international research organisation Future Earth to co-chair the Earth Commission.  

The Earth Commission is a world-first holistic attempt to establish global and regional scientific targets for a stable planet, including land, water, oceans and biodiversity, alongside climate 

With regards to climate, the commission aims to identify scientific guardrails akin to staying well beneath 2’C for the planet. 

The Earth Commission will begin immediately a high-level synthesis of scientific knowledge on the biophysical processes that regulate Earth’s stability and targets to ensure this stability, and be complete by 2021.  

The commission will also explore social transformations required for sustainable development to reach these targets. 

The goal is to translate these into tangible science based targets for Earth specifically tailored to cities and companies. 

This translational work will be undertaken by a new Science Based Targets Network (SBTN) comprised of leading NGOs, enabling cities and companies to reduce their impact on and restore our oceans, freshwater, land, and biodiversity. 

The aim is to make this standard practice in leading companies and cities by 2025. 

Three of the world’s foremost scientists Johan RockströmJoyeeta Gupta, and Dahe Qin will co-chair the Earth Commission, comprising an initial 19 members. 

The 19 commissioners include leading scientists in both natural and social sciences from 13 countries: Argentina, Australia (2), China (2), France, Germany (2), Ghana, India, Japan, Kenya, Netherlands (2), the United Kingdom, and the United States (4). 


  • Xuemei Bai, Expert in urbanisation and sustainability; Distinguished Professor, Fenner School of Environment & Society, Australian National University; Co-chair, Future Earth’s Urban Knowledge Action Network 
  • Govindasamy Bala, Expert in climate and the carbon cycle, Indian Institute of Science, India 
  • Stuart Bunn, Expert in freshwater ecology and management; Professor and Director, Australian Rivers Institute, Griffith University, Australia 
  • Fabrice DeClerck, Expert in food systems and biodiversity, sustainable production and healthy consumption, France; Science Director EAT, Senior Scientist Alliance of Biodiversity, CIAT. 
  • Sandra Diaz, Expert in biodiversity and plant ecology and ecosystems ecology.  Professor at Córdoba National University and Investigador Superior at the Argentine National Research Council (CONICET), Argentina, and co-chair of the 2019 IPBES Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services  
  • Kristie Ebi, Expert in health risks and climate change, University of Washington, USA; co-chair Future Earth’s Health Knowledge Action Network 
  • Peng Gong, Expert in Global environment monitoring, modeling and planetary health, Tsinghua University, China, member Future Earth Advisory Committee 
  • Christopher Gordon, Expert in coastal wetland and integrated river basin management, CDKN, CEL  Institute for Environment and Sanitation Studies, University of Ghana 
  • Benjamin Halpern, Expert in marine conservation, National Center for Ecological Analysis & Synthesis, UC Santa Barbara, USA 
  • Norichika Kanie, Expert in sustainable development goals, Earth system governance, Keio University, Japan 
  • Tim Lenton, Expert in tipping points, climate modeling, Global Systems Institute, University of Exeter, UK; Future Earth’s Analysis, Integration and Modeling of the Earth System Project 
  • Diana Liverman, Expert in climate vulnerability and adaptation, University of Arizona, USA 
  • David Obura, Expert in coral reef ecology and sustainability, CORDIO East Africa, Kenya 
  • Veerabhadran Ramanathan, Expert in atmospheric sciences, air pollution, University of California, USA 
  • Peter Verburg, Expert in land change, social-ecological dynamics, Vrije Universiteit, Netherlands, former Chair of Future Earth’s Global Land Programme 
  • Ricarda Winkelmann, Expert in ice sheet dynamics, tipping points, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany