As of 1 August 2020, Prof. Shen Xiaomeng assumed the role of UNU Vice-Rector in Europe (UNU-ViE) and Director of the UNU Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS). As the UNU Vice-Rector in Europe, Prof. Shen facilitates collaboration between UNU and stakeholders in and outside of the United Nations; contributes to high-level policy development with other United Nations entities and regional/national bodies; and guides UNU outreach efforts to Geneva-based UN entities, the European Commission, and European academic and research institutions. As the Director of UNU-EHS, Prof. Shen is the chief academic and administrative officer of the Institute and oversees its direction, organization and programmes.
From 2011 onwards, Prof. Shen worked with the then International Bureau of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung; BMBF) at the Project Management Agency of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt-Projektträger; DLR-PT). She joined DLR-PT as Senior Scientific Officer (2011‒2012), with a focus on multilateral science and technology development in Asia and Oceania. From 2013, she served as Deputy Head of the Department for Cooperation with Asia and Oceania; Head of the Cooperation with East Asia and Oceania Unit; and as Coordinator of the European Commission’s EURAXESS Worldwide initiative facilitating the mobility of scientists.
Before joining DLR-PT, Prof. Shen worked with UNU-EHS as a Resident Scholar and PhD Researcher (2004‒2008), and thereafter as an Associate Academic Officer (2008‒2010) with a focus on social vulnerability, environmentally induced migration issues and water-related disaster and risk research from cultural perspectives.
Prof. Shen holds a BA degree from the Beijing Foreign Studies University, a MA degree from the University of Bonn and a PhD degree from the University of Bonn/UNU-EHS, with a focus on flood risk perception and communication in different cultural contexts.
She is an honorary professor for Culture of Sustainability at Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg, and also serves on the management team of the World Adaptation Science Programme, which is hosted by UNEP. Prof. Shen is co-author of a recent comparative study on German and Chinese innovation systems (“EFI-Studie 9-2020: Vergleich der Innovationssysteme China und Deutschland. Studien zum deutschen Innovationssystem”) for the Commission of Experts for Research and Innovation, established by the German Federal Government. She is a Chinese national and is fluent in German and English.
Prof. Shen Xiaomeng can be contacted through the Executive Office of the Vice-Rectorate in Europe.
Special Assistant to the Vice-Rector and Director EHS
As of 1 January 2021, Prof. Dr. Zita Sebesvari assumed the role of Deputy Director of UNU Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS). She heads the institute’s Risk and Adaptation department and serves as the scientific lead of EHS’s flagship report Interconnected Disaster Risks.
An ecologist by training, Dr. Sebesvari holds a Ph.D. (Dr. rer. nat.) in Environmental Science from the Carl von Ossietzky University in Oldenburg, Germany. She also holds a M.Sc. in History, and has a great interest in inter- and transdisciplinary research design and project implementation.
Dr. Sebesvari is author or co-author of around 80 publications, and served as a Lead Author of the IPCC Special Report on Ocean and the Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCCC, Chapter 4 and Summary for Policymakers; 2019). She is member of the Science Committee of the World Adaptation Science Programme (WASP) and its working groups on the Global Goal on Adaptation and Loss and Damage, and the Technical Advisory Group of the Centre of Excellence Climate and Disaster Resilience. In her personal capacity, Dr. Sebesvari is member of the European Commission expert group Mission Board for Adaptation to Climate Change including Societal Transformation since 2022.
At UNU-EHS, Dr. Sebesvari has held the position of Head of the Environmental Vulnerability and Ecosystem Services (EVES) Section from 2017 – 2022; prior to this, she worked as a Senior Scientist at UNU-EHS for several years.
In addition to her research work, Dr. Sebesvari holds an honorary professorship at the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Bonn and lectures in the UNU-EHS – University of Bonn Joint M.Sc. Programme “Geography of Environmental Risks and Human Security”. She supervises Ph.D. and M.Sc. students in topics related to social-ecological systems, interconnected risks and ecosystem-based approaches to disaster risk reduction and adaptation.
Prior to joining UNU-EHS, Dr. Sebesvari worked in the field of environmental monitoring and remediation at the Institute for Chemistry and Dynamics of the Geosphere at the Jülich Research Centre, Germany, as well as on marine chemical and microbial signalling processes at the Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment (ICBM) in Oldenburg.
A citizen of Hungary and Germany, Dr. Sebesvari is fluent in English German and Hungarian.
Dr. Zita Sebesvari can be contacted through the Executive Office of the UNU Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS).
Special Assistant to the Vice-Rector and Director EHS