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Maria Ivanova

Maria Ivanova is an international relations and environmental policy scholar. She was born and raised in Bulgaria and arrived in the United States in 1992 to attend Mount Holyoke College. She began studying international environmental policy as an undergraduate and continued in this field as a graduate student at Yale University. She pursued a joint master’s degree in International Relations and Environmental Management and then her PhD at Yale.


For twelve years, Ivanova served at the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston, where she directed the Center for Governance and Sustainability and the PhD program in Global Governance and Human Security. From July 2022, she is appointed as Professor of Public Policy and Director of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs (SPPUA) in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities at Northeastern University.  

She focuses her work on the performance of international institutions, implementation of international environmental agreements, and sustainability. She has been studying the United Nations Environment Programme and her book, The Untold Story of the World's Leading Environmental Institution: UNEP at Fifty, was published by MIT Press in 2021. Her current work examines national performance on global environmental conventions, and she engages with countries in East Africa to inform policy.

From 2014 to 2016, Ivanova served on the Scientific Advisory Board of the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon. In 2020, she began a four-year term on the Joint Scientific Committee of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP). She is also an Andrew Carnegie Fellow, a member of the Executive Science Organizing Committee for the WCRP Open Science Conference (to take place in October 2023 in Rwanda), and an Ambassador for Transparency International. She serves on the External Advisory Board of the Environmental Solutions Initiative at MIT, on the Sustainability Advisory Council at Yale University, and on the Carnegie Climate Governance Initiative (C2G2) Advisory Group. In 2018, she chaired the jury for the $5 million New Shape Prize for global governance by the Global Challenges Foundation.

In 2022, Ivanova served on the Rwandan delegation to the UN Environment Assembly negotiating the resolution on a global treaty on plastics and co-chaired the drafting process for the official letter from scientists and scholars of the world to global leaders at the Stockholm+50 Conference, calling for urgent policy action for a sustainable planet. As of June 2022, she is one of 66 Foundation Fellows of the International Science Council, the highest honor awarded by the Council to those who successfully champion science in society and policymaking.

Research and Book
Areas of Expertise

Global Governance, International Organizations, Global Environmental Conventions, Climate Change, Science-Policy Interface, UN Reform, and Sustainability in Organizations and on Campuses.

On the Record

Join us October 18th! A Conversation with Secretary General of the RAMSAR Convention on Wetlands


Maria Ivanova quoted in this article on the UN "World Leaders converge on UN headquarters"

Maria Ivanova's input at "4 Major Environmental Treaties the U.S. Never Ratified - But should"

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Director of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs


Professor of Public Policy


College of Social Sciences and Humanities

Northeastern University

420 Renaissance Park, 1135 Tremont Street

Boston, MA 02115 USA

Visiting Scholar, Center for Collective Intelligence at MIT

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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