Diana Liverman

Diana Liverman

Diana Liverman (born May 15, 1954, Accra, Ghana) is Regents Professor of Geography and Development, and formerly co-Director of the Institute of the Environment at the University of Arizona, USA. She is an expert on the human dimensions of global environmental change and the impacts of climate on society. She was a co-author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) October 8, 2018 Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC.

Liverman was elected as a member of the Earth Commission in 2019 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2020.

In April of 2020, Liverman was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.


Diana Liverman was born in Accra, Ghana to British parents, and the family later moved back to the UK. She studied geography at University College London, the University of Toronto, and UCLA where she received her PhD in 1984. She was a student and postdoc at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado from 1982-1985, working with Steve Schneider. She then taught geography at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she was also affiliated with the Institute for Environmental Studies and at Penn State University where she was the Associate Director of the Earth System Science Center directed by Eric Barron. She moved to the University of Arizona in 1995 to become Director of Latin American Studies.

In 2003 she was appointed to the first Chair in Environmental Science at the University of Oxford (where she was also the first woman appointed to a chair in the School of Geography), and became Director of the Environmental Change Institute, a centre for research, teaching and outreach on the environment at Oxford University. Over five years she increased the income, size, and profile of ECI, hiring a number of distinguished scholars and working with groups such as the Tyndall Centre and James Martin 21st Century School. In 2009 she returned to Arizona to co-direct the Institute of the Environment, working with Jonathan Overpeck until 2016 when the University restructured senior personnel.

She has served on several national and international committees including the National Academy of Sciences' Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change, and the NAS Committee on America's Climate Choices. She also chaired the scientific advisory committee of the Global Environmental Change and Food Systems (GECAFS) program and of the IHDP Earth System Governance Project. She co-chaired a transition team to create a new international research initiative, Future Earth, for an Alliance of international organizations that include ICSU, UNEP, and UNESCO.

She serves on the board of a number of organizations including cultural and creative sustainability experts Julie's Bicycle (http://www.juliesbicycle.com/)

Over 60 students have graduated under her supervision.

Liverman has served as the Director of the School of Geography and Development at the University of Arizona since 2019.


Liverman has made many contributions to understanding of the human dimensions of global environmental change. Her publications and research grants deal with climate impacts, vulnerability and adaptation, climate change and food security, and climate policy, mitigation and justice especially in the developing world. She has a particular interest in the political ecology of environmental management in the Americas, especially in Mexico.

Liverman worked on the human impacts of drought as early as the 1980s, and the impacts of climate change on food systems using early climate modelling techniques and crop simulation models. Having identified the limitations to modelling approaches, fieldwork in Mexico followed, examining vulnerability to natural hazards in the agricultural sector, and the potential impacts of climatic change on food systems. Liverman has also examined the effects of neoliberalism on Latin American society and environmental regimes, particularly along the US-Mexico border.

In recent years she has focused on the international dimensions of climate policy and the growth of the new carbon economy, and is a frequent speaker and commentator on global climate issues. She was a co-author of a series of high-profile papers on planetary boundaries and Earth system governance.

She has also led several major collaborative research projects, funded mainly by US and European agencies. In 2011 she was part of a group who briefed the Dalai Lama (2011) on climate change.


Key publications


  • Richardson, K, Steffen W. and Liverman D. eds. 2011. Climate Change: Risks, Challenges, Decisions. Cambridge University Press.
  • National Academy of Sciences. 2010. Informing an Effective Response to Climate change. Panel report for America's Climate Choices (lead author, Diana Liverman). National Academies Press, Washington DC. 300pp
  • Marston, S., Knox, P., Liverman D., Del Casino, V. and Robbins, P. 2010. World Regions in Global Context. Prentice Hall, 480pp.
  • Ingram J., Ericksen P and Liverman D. 2010. eds. Food Security and Global Environmental Change. Earthscan
  • Knox P, S. Marston and D.M.Liverman. 2009. Human Geography: Places and Regions in Global Context. Edition 5. Prentice Hall.
  • Castree, N. Demeritt D., Liverman D.M. and Rhoads B. eds. 2009. A Companion to Environmental Geography. Wiley Blackwell. 588pp.
  • Liverman and others, 1998. People and Pixels: Linking Remote Sensing and Social Science. National Academies Press, Washington DC.


  • DeFries, R., E. Ellis, F. S. Chapin III, P. Matson, B. L. Turner II, A. Agrawal, P. Crutzen, C. Field, P. Gleick, P. Kareiva, E. Lambin, E. Ostrom, P. Sanchez, J. Syvitski, and D.M. Liverman. 2012. Planetary Opportunities: A social contract for global change science to contribute to a sustainable future. BioScience 6:xxx-xxx. https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/bio.2012.62.issue-6
  • Lovell H and Liverman D.M. 2010. Understanding carbon offset technologies. New Political Economy. 15(2):255-273
  • New, M, Liverman D.M., Schroeder H. and Anderson K. 2010. Four degrees and beyond: the potential for a global temperature increase of four degrees and its implications Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A January 13, 2011 369:6-19; doi: 10.1098/rsta.2010.0303
  • Rockström J, W. Steffen, K. Noone, Å. Persson, F.S. Chapin, E.F. Lambin, T.M. Lenton, M.Scheffer, Carl Folke, H.J. Schellnhuber, B. Nykvist, C.A. de Wit, T. Hughes, S. van der Leeuw, H. Rodhe, S. Sörlin, P.K. Snyder, R. Costanza, U. Svedin, M.Falkenmark, L. Karlberg. R.W. Corell. V.J. Fabry, J.Hansen, B.Walker, D.M. Liverman, K. Richardson, P.Crutzen & J.A. Foley. 2009. A safe operating space for humanity. Nature 461, 472-475. doi:10.1038/461472a
  • Lovell H., Bulkeley H. and Liverman D.M. 2009. Carbon offsetting: Sustaining Consumption. Environment and Planning A 41(10): 2357-2379
  • Liverman D.M. 2009. The geopolitics of climate change: avoiding determinism, fostering sustainable development. Climatic Change. 96(1-2): 7-11.
  • Liverman, D.M. 2009. Conventions of Climate Change: Constructions of danger and the dispossession of the atmosphere. Journal of Historical Geography. 35(2):279-295
  • Bumpus A.G. and Liverman D.M. 2008. Accumulation by decarbonisation and the governance of carbon offsets. Economic Geography 84(2): 127-156.
  • Lemos, M.C., E. Boyd, E. Tompkins, H. Osbahr, D.M. Liverman 2007. Developing adaptation and adapting development. Ecology and Society, 12(2): 26 [online] URL: http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol12/iss2/art26/
  • Liverman D.M. 2007. Survival into the Future in the Face of Climate Change. Survival: The Survival of the Human Race (2006 Darwin Lectures). E. Shuckburgh. Ed. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press: 187-205.
  • Liverman D.M. and Vilas S. 2006. Neoliberalism and the environment in Latin America. Annual Review of Environment and Resources 31(1): 327-363.
  • Liverman, D.M. 2004. Who governs, at what scale and at what price? Geography, environmental governance and the commodification of nature. Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 94(4): 734-738.
  • Vasquez M. and Liverman D.M. 2004. The political ecology of land-use change: Affluent ranchers and destitute farmers in the Mexican Municipio of Alamos. Human Organization 63(1): 21-33.
  • Liverman D.M. 1999. Vulnerability and Adaptation to Drought in Mexico. Natural Resources Journal 39(1): 99-115.
  • Liverman D.M. 1999. Geography and the Global Environment. Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 89(1): 107-124.
  • Conde, C., DM. Liverman, M. Flores, R. Ferrer, R. Araujo, E. Betancourt, G. Villarreal, and C. Gay. 1997. Vulnerability of rainfed maize crops in Mexico to climate change. Climate Research. 9(1-2): 17-23
  • Appendini K. and D.M. Liverman 1994. Agricultural policy and climate change in Mexico. Food Policy. 19(2): 149-164.
  • Liverman, D.M. and K. O'Brien, 1991. Global Warming and Climate Change in Mexico. Global Environmental Change 1(4): 351-364
  • Liverman, D.M. 1990. Drought and Agriculture in Mexico: The case of Sonora and Puebla in 1970. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 80(1):49-72.
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