Sebastian Oberthür is the Academic Director of the IES. Trained as a political scientist with a strong background in international law, he focuses on issues of international and European environmental governance, with an emphasis on institutional issues and perspectives. His current research interest extends in particular to the horizontal and vertical integration of international institutions and policies relevant to the environment, including the interplay between environmental agreements/institutions and other policies (e.g. trade, transport).
Since the end of 2005, Sebastian Oberthür is a member of the Compliance Committee of the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Since 2000, he has furthermore acted as a special policy advisor on international climate policy to the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Protection and Nuclear Safety. Since 1996, he has also been an appointed member and representative of the International Council of Environmental Law (ICEL). From 2005 to 2007, Sebastian Oberthür served as a member of the Scientific Steering Committee of the Institutional Dimensions of Global Environmental Change (IDGEC) project of the International Human Dimensions Programme (IHDP).
Sebastian Oberthür has dealt with issues of international environmental policy as well as climate policy since the early 1990s. He has worked on the development and implementation of various environmental agreements and international environmental institutions, as well as climate policies. He has, inter alia, conducted studies on the interaction between international institutions, the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the structure and design of the system of international environmental institutions, the role of non-governmental organizations in international environmental governance, the reporting of data under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, and the foreign environmental policy making of the European Union in international environmental agreements.
Dr. Oberthür has published widely on these subjects and is invited regularly as an expert to participate in and speak at relevant conferences and workshops. He has followed the international negotiating processes on the protection of the ozone layer and on global climate for several years as a scientific observer and a government advisor. He serves on the review panels of various journals, the Norwegian and Dutch national science foundations and the EU Framework Programme for Research.
Before becoming IES Academic Director, Sebastian Oberthür served as a part-time assistant professor for international relations at the Otto-Friedrich-University Bamberg from 2001-2005. Previously, he was a senior research fellow with Ecologic, the Institute for International and European Environmental Policy in Berlin, with which he remains a Senior Policy Advisor. In 1996 and 1997, Dr. Oberthür also taught International Relations at the Technical University Berlin.
From 1987 to 1992, Sebastian Oberthür studied political science in Marburg and Berlin. In 1995, he received a PhD from the Free University Berlin for his work on “The Contribution of International Regimes to Solving Environmental Problems” (summa cum laude).