Ian Burton

Independent Scholar • Professor Emeritus • Mr. Adaptation


about ian burton


Ian Burton is a writer, independent scholar, and consultant. He is Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto, Department of Geography, and currently a  Member of the Board of Trustees of the World Academy of Arts and Science, and a Visiting Fellow at the International Institute for Environment and Development in London.  Recently Ian has served on the joint ICSU, ISSC, and UNIDRC Committee for the programme International Research on Disaster Risk and specifically on the project on Forensic Investigations of Disaster.  He has also served as a Lead and Contributing Author on 3 IPCC Assessments and the Special Report on Extremes.

Consulting assignments include periods with the United Nations Environment Programme, the World Bank, United Nations Development Programme, UNESCO, WHO, OECD, and several bi-lateral aid organizations, and consulting engineering companies. Other positions held include Executive Board Member of the Munich Climate Insurance Initiative (2004- 1012), Head of the Canadian Delegation to IPCC Working Group II (1993-95), Member, Independent World Commission on the Oceans (Suarez Commission), Jury Member, International St. Francis Prize for the Environment (1990-1995), Ian’s considerable international experience includes assignments with the Ford Foundation in India, Sudan, and Nigeria; with the Rockefeller Foundation’s LEAD Programme, and with UNESCO in Mexico and Argentina.

With the Canadian Federal Government (1989-96) Ian served as Senior Policy Advisor in Environment Canada’s Corporate Policy Group, and then as Director on the Environmental Adaptation Research Group in the Atmospheric Environment Service. Prior to joining the Federal Government he was Director in the International Federation of Institutes for Advanced Study. From 1979-84 he was Professor and Director on the Institute for Environment Studies at the University of Toronto.

Honours include, elected Fellow Royal Society of Canada 1983-, Senior Connaught Fellow, University of Toronto (1985-86), Honorary PhD University of Waterloo, (2013), Queen Elizabeth, Diamond Jubilee Medal, 2012, Laureat D’honneur, International Geographical Union, 2016.

Ian Burton has research interests and technical expertise in risk assessment of natural and technological hazards, water resources and supply, climate change impacts and adaptation, and environment and development. Trained in geography (PhD Chicago 1962) he works now primarily in the interface between research, science, and policy, and is particularly interested in the use and misuse of scientific information in public policy formation and business.


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