Field of Work
In addition to issues of planning and spatial governance, Jörn Birkmann has particularly worked in the area of vulnerability and risk research in the context of natural disasters and climate change in recent years. He is co-author of the World Risk Report published by the aid association “Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft” and the United Nations University. The key feature of this report is an index showing for 171 countries the specific level of risk of becoming the victim of a catastrophe in the event of a natural disaster. In 2014, this risk potential was analyzed for urban areas in 140 countries for the first time. In addition, Birkmann develops new methods of facing up to the challenges of social change and environmental change in selected regions in the global South and North. The protection of critical infrastructures is likewise a key focus area.
Jörn Birkmann, born in Bielefeld in 1972, studied regional planning at the University of Dortmund. He obtained his doctorate there with a dissertation on “Monitoring sustainable regional development”, for which he won the dissertation award of the University of Dortmund. Over the last 10 years, Birkmann worked in Bonn at the Institute for Environment and Human Security at United Nations University, which has its headquarters in Tokyo, its administration in Kuala Lumpur and 14 institutes worldwide.
Birkmann habilitated in geography at the University of Bonn in 2009 and held a position as stand-in professor at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich in 2012-13. He is a full member of the Academy of Spatial Research and Planning (ARL) and two UNESCO expert panels as well as being lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for the special IPCC report “Managing the Risk of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation” (IPCC 2012) and the Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC (IPCC 2014). He is also a member of the international scientific council for the program Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR), co-sponsored by the ICSU (International Council of Science).