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Pardee Center Director Tapped for United Nations Role

Adil Najam to serve on Committee for Development Policy

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Adil Najam is the director of BU’s Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

Boston University’s Adil Najam will have a hand in global development in the coming year as a member of the United Nations Committee for Development Policy (CDP), a subsidiary of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon nominated Najam in early February, and the appointment was confirmed two weeks ago.

“I am deeply honored,” says Najam, a College of Arts & Sciences professor of international relations and of geography and environment and the director of BU’s Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future. He replaces Tariq Banuri, senior fellow and director of the Future Sustainability Program of the Stockholm Environment Institute.

The 24-member CDP advises ECOSOC on issues ranging from the role of technology in development to the effectiveness of aid programs in Africa. It also is responsible for periodic reviews of the UN’s list of Least Developed Countries (LDCs), in order to recommend countries that should be added or removed from the list based on low gross national income, a scarcity of health and survival resources, and economic vulnerability.

“I expect that the global financial crisis will be a major area of concern for the CDP,” says Najam, who will serve on the committee through the end of 2009. “Much of the discussion on the crisis has been focused on the richest economies, and we sometimes forget that the poor have the least economic resilience and global downturns can impact their livelihoods very deeply.”

A focus on longer-term global policy problems — especially those related to human well-being and sustainable human development in the developing world — has been the hallmark of Najam’s work. He contributed to Pakistan’s first environmental policy document, as well as to the country’s report to the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, has worked closely with governments and civil society in both industrialized and developing countries, and regularly collaborates with the United Nations. In 2007, he shared the Nobel Peace Prize as a lead author on the third and fourth assessment reports issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a UN-created panel of international climate scientists, which was awarded the prize along with Al Gore. Najam says that much of his contribution to the CDP’s work will likely be in the area of sustainable development policy, “particularly how it relates to global climate change policy.”

University ProvostDavid Campbell says that Najam’s interest and expertise in international diplomacy, his focus on global issues, and his role in prior UN-sponsored studies make him "ideally positioned" for this appointment. "I am deeply appreciative of his willingness to accept this service," Campbell says.

While the CDP meets several times during the year, Najam says, his appointment will not have an impact on his responsibilities at BU.

“Global development policy is exactly what my research and teaching here at BU focus on,” he says. “So I see this as a great synergy and an opportunity to bring new insights about the UN to our students and to take a sense of our BU research to global decision makers.”

Chris Berdik can be reached at cberdik@bu.edu.

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