Hans Joachim (John) Schellnhuber (CBE) is director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and visiting professor at Oxford University. He is a member of WBGU since it was founded. Between 1994–1996 he served as vice chair and between 1996–2000 he chaired the council.
Dirk Messner is director of the German Development Institute, Bonn and professor for political science at the University of Duisburg-Essen. He is a member of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development and a WBGU member since 2004.
The WBGU has been reappointed by the Federal Cabinet in December 2008. The current term ends in 2012.
The most recent report of the Council “Future Bioenergy and Sustainable Land Use” is the first integrated study of bioenergy to explore the issue in the context of both global environmental and development policy.
The German federal government set up WBGU as an independent, scientific advisory body in 1992 in the run-up to the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. The Council's principal tasks are to:
- analyse global environment and development problems and report on these,
- review and evaluate national and international research in the field of global change,
- provide early warning of new issue areas,
- identify gaps in research and to initiate new research,
- monitor and assess national and international policies for the achievement of sustainable development,
- elaborate recommendations for action and research and - raise public awareness and heighten the media profile of global change issues.