Jill Jäger - Chair, RESCUE Working Group 5: Interface between science and policy, communication and outreach

Dr. Jäger is independent scholar, formally senior researcher at Sustainable Europe Research Institute (SERI).  

Jill Jäger received her BSc degree in environmental sciences from the University of East Anglia (UK) in 1971. In 1974 the University of Colorado (USA) awarded her PhD in geography (climatology).   

In 1987 Dr. Jäger became Project Leader at Stockholm Environment Institute, Sweden, and in 1991 she became Director of the Climate Policy Division of the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, Germany. She joined the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Austria, in 1994, where she was Deputy Director. From 1994 until 1998, Dr. Jäger was Executive Director of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP) from 1999 until 2002. She joined the Sustainable Europe Research Institute (SERI), Austria, in 2004, where she was senior researcher until 2008.  

Dr. Jäger has an extensive publication record, her research themes ranging from energy and climate, biodiversity, global responsibility, public and stakeholder participation, integrating policies to linkages between knowledge and action for sustainable development. Some of her main publications include Global Change and the Earth System- A Planet Under Pressure (2004), Assessments of Regional and Global Environmental Risks: Designing Processes for the Effective Use of Science in Decisionmaking (2005) and a chapter on Vulnerability of People and the Environment: Challenges and Opportunities in UNEP’s Global Environment Outlook (2007). She was also a co-author of the paper on “Sustainability Science” published in Science in 2001.  

Dr. Jäger has also worked as a consultant for many international organizations including the Federal German Environment Agency (UBA), Berlin; the International Meteorological Institute, University of Stockholm, Sweden; the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), France; the Canadian Government;  and the Beijer Institute and Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), Sweden. She has served in numerous international scientific programmes, including the EU-funded projects Methods and Tools for Integrated Sustainability Assessment (MATISSE) and Environmental Change and Forced Migration Scenarios (EACH-FOR).



  • What made you decide to get involved with the RESCUE foresight initiative?

I was involved in the ESF Global Change Forward Look, which for various reasons did not lead to the kind of progress that we were seeking, so this seemed like an excellent opportunity for another try, especially in view of the progress made in the intervening years in understanding global change.

  • In your field, what are the most urgent issues at stake for our unstable Earth?

The most urgent need is a global reduction of resource use, since we currently use more resources than the earth can reproduce sustainably in one year. This reduction has to come from the industrialised countries, since the developing countries still need to develop. Some of the reductions can be achieved through technology – using resources more efficiently and effectively – but efficiency improvements will not be enough. So lifestyle changes will be necessary as well.

  • What are your ambitions for how RESCUE could help address these challenges – how could it help in the short and long term?

RESCUE could help by providing recommendations on how to design processes that help to transfer scientific knowledge more effectively, so that other stakeholders (policy makers, business and industry, ordinary citizens) become better equipped to make decisions that support a structural change towards a more sustainable world.

  • You have a lot of experience of researching how science and policy interact for the development of responses to global environmental and societal issues. When now entering the RESCUE project, how would you describe the current sensitivity and responsiveness of this interaction?

Except for a few examples of “good practice”, we do not currently set up effective processes to allow the necessary interactions. These processes must be iterative and support social learning. The barriers to doing this are high. Research-funding is generally not available for such longer-term, goal-searching, participatory processes; and scientists do not receive academic credit for this kind of work.

  • In your opinion, what should be done on a European level to facilitate communication between the decision makers and the scientific community with regard to global environmental and societal challenges? How do you feel the Working Group you are chairing could contribute to this?

Dialogue processes at the local/regional level are needed. I hope that our Working Group can provide guidelines on how such processes could be organized, funded and maintained.