People

IRGC office

Management Committee

Bruno Oberle
Professor, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)
Academic Director IRGC@EPFL

Bruno Oberle has investigated and shaped the interface between environmental policy, economic development and social balance from the perspective of the state regulator, acting as entrepreneur and also as scientist. He has dealt with both sectoral and national issues, working at the highest level of international policymaking. Oberle studied environmental science at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich where he was awarded a doctorate.

From 2005 to 2015, Bruno Oberle was Director of the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment, an agency with an extensive portfolio ranging from environmental protection to the prevention of natural hazards, from climate policy to forestry and from air quality to the licensing of chemicals. He acted as Secretary of State for the Environment, representing Switzerland in international institutions and negotiations. He also acted as mediator, particularly for matters concerning the financing of international policies. Since 2016, Bruno Oberle has been Professor of Green Economy and Resource Governance at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL).

Bruno Oberle, EPFL online people directory

Marie-Valentine Florin
Executive Director
IRGC@EPFL

Marie-Valentine Florin organises IRGC’s collaborative activities, focusing particularly on the role of IRGC as a multi-stakeholder platform and convening place at the interface between science and policy. She joined the IRGC Foundation in 2006. She spent the first part of her career in an international sociocultural research and marketing consulting firm, and then worked for sustainable development plans of local authorities and humanitarian organisations. Marie-Valentine Florin graduated from Sciences Po in Paris (public policy and management), and then obtained post-graduate diplomas in marketing strategy, sustainable development and environmental diplomacy.

Marie-Valentine Florin, EPFL online people directory

Gérard Escher
Member of Management Committee, IRGC@EPFL

Gérard Escher obtained his diploma in biology at the University of Geneva, and his PhD in Neurosciences at the University of Lausanne. He joined the Department of Neurobiology at Stanford University as a Postdoctoral Fellow. After his return to Switzerland (University of Lausanne), he led a research group working on synapse formation. In 1999, he became Scientific Advisor to Secretary of State Charles Kleiber. Gérard became Assistant Director at the State Secretariat for Education and Research in 2005, in charge of science policy and forecast. In 2008, Gérard Escher moved to the Ecole Polytechnique Federale in Lausanne, where he acts as Senior Advisor to the President.

Gérard Escher, EPFL online people directory

Advisory Board

The Advisory Board provides guidance and recommendations to the management committee on policy, business and scientific issues related to risk governance and public policy of technology.

Monique Barbut
Executive Secretary
United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)

Monique Barbut, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), has over 30 years of experience in sustainable development, international diplomacy, governance and finance.

From 2006 to 2012, she was the Chief Executive Officer and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and Vice President at the World Bank. Prior to that, she was a Director at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), preceding which she oversaw diverse functions in the French international development system, ranging from aid evaluation to serving as Executive Director of the Agence Française de Développement. She played a key role in the 1992 Rio Earth Summit finance negotiations and the GEF’s creation thereafter.

David Bresch
Professor
Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology (ETH) Zurich

David Bresch has been Professor for Weather and Climate Risks at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich/MeteoSwiss since 2016. From 2000 to 2016, his roles at Swiss Re have included Head of Business Development, Global Head of Sustainability, Head of Atmospheric Perils Group and Chief modeller for natural catastrophe risk assessment. From 1998 to 1999, he was Research Associate at MIT. Bresch was a member of the Swiss delegation to the UNFCCC in 2009-2012 and 2015, and a member of the Private Sector Advisory Group to the UN Green Climate Fund (GCF), 2014-2016. Bresch holds a PhD in physics from ETH Zurich. His research focuses on the impacts of weather and climate on socioeconomic systems. Combining numerical modelling of weather and climate risks with the engagement of decision makers and end-users, his research aims to explore ways to strengthen resilience based on a shared understanding of their weather and climate susceptibility. Such an integrated view along the chain of impacts also opens up new perspectives to the treatment of uncertainty in decision-making.

Benno Bühlmann
Director
Swiss Federal Office for Civil Protection (FOCP)

Benno Bühlmann is Director of the Swiss Federal Office for Civil Protection (FOCP), which supports the cantons and municipalities as well as partner organisations in their civil protection activities. He is also a member of the Management Board of the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport, and President of the staff unit of the NBC Protection Crisis Management Board.

Prior to that, he was Head of the Environmental Protection Authority of the Canton of Uri, Head of the Civil Protection Service of the Canton of Uri, Deputy Chief of Staff in the cantonal command support of Uri, anti chem squad commander and independent Consultant Manager of Bühlmann Project Management AG in Altdorf. Mr Bühlmann’s other activities include Mayor, Fire Brigade Commander, President of the Federal NBC Protection Commission, VRP Innet Monitoring AG, and lecturer at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich.

Benno Bühlmann graduated from the ETH Zurich, with diplomas in chemical engineering and natural sciences.

Josef Hess
Member of the government
Canton of Obwalden

In December 2016, Josef Hess was elected as a Government Councillor of the canton of Obwalden and took up his position as Head of the Construction and Spatial Development Department. Prior to that, he took over the management of the Steering Committee Intervention Natural Hazards at the Swiss Federal Office of Civil Protection in 2009 and was appointed Deputy Director of the Swiss Federal Office of the Environment (FOEN) in 2012. He was responsible for the Departments of Hazard Prevention, Forestry, Noise and NIS, and Air Pollution Prevention and Chemicals. Josef Hess studied at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich and obtained his diploma in forestry in 1986. He obtained a doctoral degree in administrative law, with a dissertation on “Protection Goals in Handling Natural Risks”. Since 2000, Hess has also been a member of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, with project work in China, Brazil and the USA.

James Larus
Professor and Dean
School of Computer and Communication Sciences, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)

Professor and Dean of the School of Computer and Communication Sciences (IC) at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). Larus was previously a researcher, Manager, and Director at Microsoft Research for over 16 years and an Assistant and Associate Professor in the Computer Sciences Department at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA.

Larus has been an active contributor to the programming languages, compiler, software engineering, and computer architecture communities. He has published over 100 papers (with nine best and most influential paper awards), received 30 US patents, and served on numerous program committees and NSF, NRC, and DARPA panels. Larus joined Microsoft Research in 1998 to start and lead the Software Productivity Tools (SPT) group, which developed and applied a variety of innovative program analysis techniques to build tools to find software defects. This group’s groundbreaking research in program analysis and software defect detection is widely recognised by the research community, as well as being shipped in Microsoft products. Larus became an MSR Research Area Manager for programming languages and tools and started the Singularity research project, which demonstrated that modern programming languages and software engineering techniques can fundamentally improve software architectures. Subsequently, he helped start XCG, an effort in MSR to develop hardware and software support for cloud computing. In XCG, Larus led groups developing the Orleans framework for cloud programming and computer hardware projects. Larus received a National Science Foundation Young Investigator award in1993 and became an ACM Fellow in 2006.

Julia Marton-Lefèvre
Former director general
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

Until 2015 Julia was Director General of IUCN, the world’s largest international conservation membership organisation. Prior positions have included Rector of the UN-mandated University for Peace (UPEACE) and Executive Director of the International Council for Science (ICSU).

At present, she is focusing on using her broad experience to advise organisations on how to achieve their goals. She chairs the Executive Committee of the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, the Donor Council of the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund, the Board of Trustees of Bioversity International, and the independent Advisory Board to the Sustainable Biomass Program. Her links with academic institutions are with Yale University, Oxford University’s James Martin School (Advisory Boards) and Arizona State University (Global Institute of Sustainability). She recently completed a 10-year term as a founding member of the Board of the Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, and remains a member of the Advisory Board of the Institute’s Center for Environmental Studies.

Julia’s other board memberships include the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI) and the Global Footprint Network. Private sector links include membership of the Critical Friends advisory group to the CEO of Veolia Environment S.A. and the Ethics Committee of BNP Paribas.

Julia received the AAAS Award for International Cooperation in Science and was granted the title of Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur in France. She is an elected member of the World Academy of Art and Science, the World Future Council and the Royal Geographical Society. She was born in Hungary, educated in the United States and France and, having lived on several continents, considers herself a global citizen.

Kenneth Oye
Professor and Director of the Program on Emerging Technologies (PoET)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Kenneth Oye is Director of the MIT Program on Emerging Technologies (PoET) with a joint appointment as Professor of Political Science and Data Systems and Society. His research seeks to accentuate benefits and mitigate risks of advanced biotechnologies, with publications on synthetic biology in Science and Nature and on pharmaceuticals policy in Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics.

He is a faculty affiliate of the Synthetic Biology Center, the Center for Biomedical Innovation and the Internet Policy Research Initiative, chairs the biosafety committees for iGEM and the Broad Institute Foundry, and has served as an invited expert to the UN BWC, WHO, PCAST and NRC.

Before joining the MIT faculty, he taught at Harvard University, the University of California, Princeton University and Swarthmore College. He holds a BA in Economics and Political Science with Highest Honors from Swarthmore College and a PhD in Political Science with the Chase Dissertation Prize from Harvard University. Kenneth Oye has been associated with the IRGC Foundation since 2006, with which he collaborates on matters related to risk governance in pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and information technology, as well as technology policy and adaptive regulation. He is taking a sabbatical at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in the academic year 2018-2019.

Janos Pasztor
Senior Fellow and Executive Director
Carnegie Climate Geoengineering Governance Initiative (C2G2)

Janos Pasztor is Carnegie Council Senior Fellow and Executive Director of the C2G2. He has over four decades of work experience in the areas of energy, environment, climate change, and sustainable development. Before taking up his current assignment, he was UN Assistant Secretary-General for climate change in New York under Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Earlier, he was acting Executive Director for Conservation (2014) and Policy and Science Director (2012-2014) at WWF International. He directed the UNSG’s Climate Change Support Team (2008-2010) and later was Executive Secretary of the UNSG’s High-level Panel on Global Sustainability (2010-2012). In 2007, Janos Pasztor directed the Geneva-based UN Environment Management Group (EMG). From 1993-2006 he worked and over time held many responsibilities at the Climate Change Secretariat (UNFCCC), initially in Geneva and later in Bonn.

Stephan Schreckenberg
Head of Strategy & Development
Swiss Re Institute, Swiss Re

Stephan Schreckenberg heads the Strategy & Development team of the Swiss Re Institute. He is responsible for the development of Swiss Re’s overall research strategy and its operationalisation for the Institute, including related external partnerships. Prior to this, he led the Risk Research unit at the Swiss Re Center for Global Dialogue where he was strongly engaged in outreach activities and applied research with external partners. He spent more than ten years in Swiss Re’s Corporate Risk Management Department. As Head of the Internal Risk Modeling team, he contributed to building Swiss Re’s Enterprise Risk Capital Management System.

As member of the Solvency II Steering Group at the European Association of Insurance Associations, he represented for many years the Swiss insurance industry’s view in developing the new regulatory solvency regime in Europe. He is now involved in several boards of academic research institutes and is a member of the EconomieSuisse commission “Education & Research”.

Konrad Steffen
Director, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL)
Professor, Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology (ETH) Zurich and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) Lausanne

Konrad Steffen is Director of the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), Professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich (Institute of Atmosphere & Climate) and Professor at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) (Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering). His past positions include Director of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado (2005-2012) and Professor Emeritus of Geography, University of Colorado Boulder (1997-2012), USA.

He is a member of several committees and advisory boards: Alfred Wegner Institute for Polar and Marine Research, GCOS Observation Panel for Climate (TOPC), World Climate Research Program, Swiss Committee on Polar and High Altitude Research, Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), ESA Climate Change Advisory Board, Agroscope, Swedish Polar Research Secretariat.

Prof. Steffen’s general interest is the study of processes related to climate and cryosphere interaction in polar and alpine regions based on in-situ and satellite measurements, and using climate system modelling to study their sensitivity. In particular, he studies and evaluates sea level changes and conducts sensitivity studies of large ice sheets using in situ and modelling results. The Earth’s poles are fundamental to the planet’s climate balance, and learning more about how they work through research is crucial. Every May, he travels to Western Greenland (Swiss Camp), where the team has been collecting data on snow cover, ice and the atmosphere with various instruments since 1990.

Gisou van der Goot
Professor and Dean, School of Life Sciences
École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)

Gisou van der Goot is Head of the Laboratory of Cell and Membrane Biology, and founding member of the Global Health Institute (GHI), School of Life Sciences, at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). She is currently also Dean of the School of Life Sciences.

Before joining EPFL, she was Group Leader at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and subsequently Associate Professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the same university.

She studied engineering at the Ecole Centrale de Paris and then did a PhD in Molecular Biophysics at the Nuclear Energy Research Center, Saclay, France, followed by a postdoc at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg. She obtained an EMBO Young Investigator award in 2001, a Howard Hughes International Scholar award in 2005 and the Swiss Prix Marcel Benoist in 2009, the same year she was elected EMBO member (European Molecular Biology Organisation). She is a leader in the fields of molecular and cellular understanding of bacterial toxins, the organisation of mammalian membranes and organelles biology. Professor van der Goot is a member of various scientific boards such as the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), the Conseil Suisse de la Science et de la Technologie (CSST) and the European Research Council (ERC).