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Who is Prof Patrick Verkooijen, the new UoN Chancellor?

Who is Prof Patrick Verkooijen, the new UoN Chancellor?

President William Ruto on January 12 appointed Prof Patrick Verkooijen, a renowned environmentalist, as the new Chancellor of the University of Nairobi on a five-year tenure.

Verkooijen, 54, is a Dutch national and CEO of the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA), an international organization dedicated to the challenge of adapting the world to the global climate emergency.

He works closely in this role with Ban Ki-Moon, the 8th UN Secretary-General architect of the Paris Agreement, and chair of the GCA.

Before this role, he was the World Bank Special Representative for Climate Change where he once served as its head of climate-smart agriculture.

The new UoN Chancellor also serves as the Distinguished Chair of The Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies at the University of Nairobi, and as the Chair of Climate Adaptation Governance at the University of Groningen, Netherlands.

Verkooijen also managed the Global Commission on Adaptation chaired by Ban and co-led by Kristalina Georgieva and Bill Gates.

Working with heads of state and government from Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas, Verkooijen has organized more than half a dozen Summits of world leaders aimed at elevating the cause of climate adaptation, including as co-convenor of the Global Commission on Adaptation.

While working as the World Bank Group Special Representative on Climate Change, Verkooijen established the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, the world’s largest coalition for putting a price on carbon.

He also set up the $1.6 billion (Sh254 billion) Forest Investment Program, which included the largest indigenous people and local communities grant mechanism in the world and has since supported the sustainable management of close to 400 million hectares of land across Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Between 2012 and 2018, Verkooijen was also a Professor of Practice of Sustainable Development Diplomacy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

He has also worked as a Special Advisor to the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Sudan, Research Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, and as a Senior Advisor at the economic affairs, nature, and agriculture ministry of the Netherlands.


Born on May 21, 1969, Verkooijen holds a Ph.D. from Wageningen University, an MPA from Harvard University, and a Master of Science degree in Social and Political Philosophy from the University of Amsterdam.

He also holds a Master of Science degree in Social and Political Philosophy from the University of Amsterdam and an environmental engineering degree from HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht.

He has written academic papers focusing on sustainability and governance and has been regularly published in global media outlets including the BBC, the Washington Post, Reuters, The Guardian, Sky News, the New York Times, and CNN International.

In 2022, Verkooijen was awarded a Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa by the University of Nairobi in recognition of his championing of climate resilience for Africa.

He was also honored with the Green Deal Prize in the 2022 Financial Afrik Awards.

As founding CEO of the Global Center on Adaptation, Verkooijen has built a global organization supporting active adaptation projects in over 30 countries.

Together with African Development Bank President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, he is the architect of the world’s largest adaptation program, the $25 billion (Sh3,9 trillion) Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program.

The program has already shaped over $6 billion (Sh954 billion) of resilient investments on the world’s most climate-vulnerable continent since its inception in 2021.

Verkooijen lives with his Chilean-American wife.

Who is Prof Patrick Verkooijen, the new UoN Chancellor?