OBITUARY: Bob Scholes

It was with great sadness that we learnt of the sudden passing of Prof Bob Scholes, who passed away while on a hiking expedition in Namibia on the 28rd of April 2021.

Bob was involved from the inception of PECS, contributing to articulating the direction, scope and work programme of PECS. He served as a member of the PECS Scientific Committee until 2018, and was particularly instrumental in helping shape the institutional structure and culture of PECS, drawing on his extensive experience in the global change field. 

Bob served on the steering committees of several international global change research programmes such as the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) and the Global Climate Observing System (GEOS). He also served as co-Chair of the Conditions Working Group of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, and co-Chair of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem services (IPBES) Global Assessment of Land Degradation and Restoration, as well as lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) during the 3rd, 4th and 5th assessments.

Bob Scholes was a distinguished Professor of Systems Ecology and Director of the Global Change Institute at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa. He was listed among the top 1% most cited environmental scientists worldwide, and published widely in the fields of savanna ecology, global change and earth observation.

“Bob was always a fun and interesting person to have at meetings. He contributed insightful comments, and wasn’t afraid to suggest out-of-the-box ideas, and push people to be clear in their thinking and reasoning. He was knowledgeable on a wide range of topics, and hugely experienced in large-scale collaborative science in the global change arena. One always learnt something at a meeting with him, and his contributions were instrumental in laying the foundation for PECS. His insights and experience – and the dinner table tales with which he regaled us at many a meeting – will be sorely missed.” Oonsie Biggs


By the PECS Programme Office/ Chairs