Professor Sir Robert Watson

Former Chief Scientific Adviser at Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)


Robert T. Watson is DEFRA Chief Scientific Advisor and former Chief Scientist and Director for Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development (ESSD) at the World Bank. Prior to joining the World Bank, Professor Watson was Associate Director for Environment in the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President in the White House. Prior to joining the Clinton White House, Professor Watson was Director of the Science Division and Chief Scientist for the Office of Mission to Planet Earth at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

He has played a key role in the negotiation of global environment conventions and the evolution of the Global Environment Facility (GEF). He was Director and Co-chair of: the International Assessment of Agricultural Science & Technology for Development, the Board of Directors of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. and the International Scientific Assessment of Stratospheric Ozone. From 1997 to 2002, he was Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and from 1991 to 1994, he served as Chairman of the GEF’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel.

He was Chair or Co-Chair of a number of international scientific assessments, including the IPCC Working Group II, the United Nations Environment Programme/World Meteorological Organization (UNEP-WMO), and UNEP’s Global Biodiversity Assessment. Professor Watson has testified to the U.S. Congress on numerous occasions regarding global environmental issues. Professor Watson received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from London University in 1973. He has received many national and international awards and prizes for his contributions to science, including the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility in 1993 and the insignia of Honorary Companion of St. Michael and St. George from the British Government on December 10, 2003.