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Univ. Prof. Dr. Ilona M. Otto

Ilona M. Otto holds the Professorship in Societal Impacts of Climate Change at the Wegener Center for Climate and Global Change, University of Graz. She leads a research group focusing on Social Complexity and System Transformation. The group’s ambition is to use complex science theory and novel research methods to analyse social dynamic processes and interventions that are likely to spark rapid social changes necessary to radically transform the interactions of human societies with nature and ecosystem services in the next 30 years.  Previoulsy, she spent 10 years at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

Prof. Otto is a social scientist by training. She uses various research methods including social surveys, case studies, behavioural experiments, and simulations in analysing problems related to global environment changes, development, adaptation and sustainability. Prof. Otto is a principal investigator in an EU Horizon 2020 Project CASCADES: Cascading climate risks: Towards adaptive and resilient European Societies. She also coordinates an EIT Climate KIC founded Project REBOOST: A Boost for Rural Lignite Regions. She is also involved in other EU Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe Projects incluidng ENBEL - Connecting Climate Change and Health and HighHorizons - Heat Indicators for Global Health: Surveillance, Early Warning Systems and Adaptation-mitigation Actions to Reduce Heat Impacts in Pregnant Women, Infants and Health Workers in the EU and Africa. She led a chapter on human health in the World Bank Report Turn Down the Heat: Confronting the New Climate Normal as well she led a Report on Modelling the Impact of Climate Change on Poverty at a Subnational Scale that was contracted by the World Bank.

She is a dedicated university teacher as well as she occasionally she gives talks about climate change impacts and sustainability transformation to businesses and other stakeholder groups as well as to school children and young people.


Social Complexity and System Transformation Research Group


Examples of press coverage: 

An interview in the Austrian Magazine Falter about the climate movement (Germany); an interview in TAZ "Protests can spark social debates" (in German).

The research on life-style carbon emissions was reported by e.g. The Conversation,  CNN News, New York Times, The Conversation 

The research on social tipping was reported by e.g. Tagesschau, Forbes, Der Spiegel, Die Welt, New York Times 

Social media:


Google Scholar Profile

Research Gate


Univ.-Prof. Dr.

Ilona M. Otto

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Ilona M. Otto Wegener Center for Climate and Global Change

Wegener Center for Climate and Global Change

Phone:+43 316 380 - 8464

Press Contact


Veronika Rogenhofer

Wegener Center for Climate and Global Change

Wegener Center for Climate and Global Change

Phone:+43 316 380 - 8416

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