top of page


In her current role, Maria serves as a distinguished Professor of Public Policy and Director of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University. Here, she focuses on the intersection of research, policy, and practice, studying the performance of international institutions and the implementation of international environmental agreements. Maria's work provides critical insights into global governance and sustainability, often through the lens of complex, multi-level systems.


Maria Ivanova was born and raised in Bulgaria and embarked on her academic journey in the United States in 1992. She began her higher education at Mount Holyoke College, where she cultivated a deep interest in international relations and environmental policy. This academic focus led her to Yale University, where she pursued a joint master's degree in International Relations and Environmental Management. Determined to make impactful contributions to the field, she continued her academic career at Yale, where she completed her Ph.D.

After concluding her studies, Maria joined the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Over a span of twelve years, she directed the Center for Governance and Sustainability and led the Ph.D. program in Global Governance and Human Security. These roles allowed her to meld rigorous academic investigation with hands-on policy work, shaping the next generation of thinkers and policymakers in the process.

Maria's extensive body of work includes key publications that have shaped the discourse in her field. Her books, notably "The Untold Story of the World’s Leading Environmental Institution: UNEP at Fifty," published by MIT Press in 2021, and "Global Environmental Governance: Options & Opportunities," co-edited with Daniel Esty in 2002, serve as seminal texts for scholars and practitioners alike. She has also made significant contributions to peer-reviewed journals, including articles published in 'Nature,' 'Global Sustainability,' and 'Ethics & International Affairs.'

In addition to her academic contributions, Maria has been a leading voice in numerous international boards, advisory committees, and scientific panels. From 2014 to 2016, she 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). Maria is also an Andrew Carnegie Fellow and serves on the Executive Science Organizing Committee for the WCRP Open Science Conference, which is slated to take place in October 2023 in Rwanda.

Her advisory roles extend to prestigious educational institutions as well. She serves on the External Advisory Board of the Environmental Solutions Initiative at MIT and the Sustainability Advisory Council at Yale University. Maria is also an active member of the Carnegie Climate Governance Initiative (C2G2) Advisory Group and was the chair of the jury for the $5 million New Shape Prize for global governance by the Global Challenges Foundation in 2018.

Maria's work in international delegations is no less significant. She currently serves on the Rwandan delegation to the UN Environment Assembly, where she has been negotiating the resolution on a global treaty on plastics. In June 2022, she became one of 66 Foundation Fellows of the International Science Council, the highest honor awarded by the Council for successfully championing science in society and policymaking. Maria was also a co-chair in drafting the official letter from scientists and scholars of the world to global leaders at the Stockholm+50 Conference, which called for urgent policy action for a sustainable planet.

bottom of page