Professor Christopher Gordon Appointed an Ambassador of the Earth Commission

The former Director of the Institute for Environment and Sanitation Studies, College of Basic and Applied Science of the University of Ghana, Professor Christopher Gordon, has been appointed as an Ambassador of the second phase of the Earth Commission (EC), Future Earth.

His appointment raises the profile of the University of Ghana as an institution contributing world-class scientists to global debates on the future of our planet. Prof. Gordon's appointment will continue till the end of phase two of the Earth Commission in three years. Currently, six former Commissioners have moved to the Ambassador role and may participate in working group meetings and as co-authors in phase two.

In a brief engagement with the news team at UG’s Public Affairs Directorate, Prof. Gordon described his appointment as an Ambassador of the Earth Commission as a testament to the recognition of his contributions towards planetary futures.

The Earth Commission is hosted by Future Earth, the world’s largest network of sustainability scientists and is the scientific cornerstone of the Global Commons Alliance. The second assessment of the Earth Commission will build on, update, and advance the safe and just Earth system boundaries, transformation, and translation synthesis from the first phase of the Earth Commission. Its primary focus will be on scientific assessment and synthesis. A secondary aim is to stimulate the broader research community to advance key areas, for example, to develop knowledge around tipping points and the social dimensions of possible futures, particularly justice of boundaries, translation, and transformation.

Prof Gordon stated that “one of the things that the Earth Commission is focusing on is the whole issue of a safe and just planet because there is no equity and limited justice in access to natural capital, leading to an increasing gap between rich and poor nations and at the country level, the rich are getting richer and the poor are suffering more,”

Prof Gordon informed the media team that he was a member of the first Earth Commission as a Commissioner when it started in 2019 and co-lead for the Working Group on Freshwater and Nutrients. In the second phase of the EC, he is very pleased to be retained as an Ambassador and to be part of this group of high-level cutting-edge scientists. Prof. Gordon describes his responsibilities in the ambassadorial position as “spreading information about the Earth Commission through conferences and panels, as well as continuing his research in areas of interest like freshwater and environmental pollutants”.

Referring to his research he indicated that environmental pollution in Ghana is impacting people's health, with substances like persistent organic pollutants, heavy metals and microplastics detected in water bodies all of which are associated with human health issues such as sterility and birth defects, Prof. Gordon emphasised the significant risks facing Ghana from the three Grand Challenges of Climate Change, Biodiversity Loss and Pollution which need to be addressed with urgency to avoid eroding our development gains. As a scientist, he is to provide the evidence base to decision-makers for policy formulation and to advocate for the care of our environment in Ghana.

Prof. Chris Gordon has played an active role in biodiversity conservation and ecosystem management initiatives, particularly in water, coastal wetland, and catchment basin issues at international and national levels. He was a former Vice-President of Wetlands International as well as VP of the International Society of Limnology (SIL). He served as a member of the World Adaptation Science Program of UNEP and its Foresight Panel. Currently, he is part of the Centre of Excellence on Climate and Development of the African Research Universities Alliance; and on the Management Board of the United Nations University Institute of Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA); as well as the Expert Advisory Group of the UK Global Centre on Biodiversity for Climate (GCBC); He is also the Strategic Country Advisor for the Climate Development and Knowledge Network (CDKN). He is a Member of the Order of the Volta, awarded for his service to Ghana in Research and Development.

The entire UG community wishes Prof. Christopher Gordon the best in his new role.