Remembering Will Steffen (1947 – 2023)

Remembering Will Steffen (1947 – 2023)


He was an exceptional scientist and a lovely man. – John Dearing

He was truly the best of the best and will be sorely missed. – Robert Costanza

Will Steffen formed the heart of IHOPE, and we deeply regret his passing on January 29, 2023.

At an International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme conference in Canada in 2003, Will, an Earth system scientist and then Executive Director of the IGBP, and ecological economist Robert Costanza, a member of the IGBP task force Analysis, Integration and Modelling of the Earth System (AIMES), conceived the idea of constructing a timeline for human interaction with the Earth system.

They called the project the Integrated History and Future of People on Earth (IHOPE).

Like-minded colleagues quickly joined them in creating IHOPE. Will’s vision, calm presence, and collaborative spirit infuses IHOPE’s work today.  His numerous contributions to a liveable planet will not be forgotten and his absence is much regretted.

Will Steffen’s early IHOPE publications:

  • Costanza, R.L., Graumlich, L.J., Steffen, W. eds. 2007a. Sustainability or Collapse? An Integrated History and Future of People on Earth. Dahlem Workshop Reports # 96. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Costanza, R.L., Graumlich, L., Steffen, W., Crumley, C.L., Dearing, J., Hibbard, K., Leemans, R., Redman, C., Schimel, D. 2007b. Sustainability or collapse: What can we learn from integrating the history of humans and the rest of nature? Ambio 36:522–527.
  • Hibbard, K.A., Costanza R., Crumley C., van der Leeuw S., Aulenbach, S., Dearing J., Morais J., Steffen, W., Yasuda, Y. 2010. Developing an integrated history and future of people on earth (IHOPE): Research plan. Global Change. IGBP Report No. 59. IGBP Secretariat, Stockholm.
  • Costanza, R.L., S. van der Leeuw, K. Hibbard, S. Aulenbach, S. Brewer, M. Burek, S. Cornell, C. Crumley, J. Dearing, C. Folke, L. Graumlich, M. Hegmon, S. Heckbert, S. T. Jackson, I. Kubiszewski, V. Scarborough, P. Sinclair, S. Sorlin, and W. Steffen. 2012. Developing an Integrated History and future of People on Earth (IHOPE). Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 4:106-114.