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Professor Calestous Juma was an internationally-recognized authority and leader in the application of science, technology, and innovation to sustainable development. His original work focused on analyzing the co-evolution of technological innovation and institutional change in socio-economic systems. He directed programs that advanced science, technology, and innovation policy research (especially biotechnology), provided high-level science and technology advice, and promoted the conservation of biological diversity.

He was Professor of the Practice of International Development at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) and Faculty Chair of the Edward S. Mason Fellows Program. He was also Faculty Chair of the Innovation for Economic Development Executive Program and Director of the Science, Technology, and Globalization Project. Prof. Juma directed the School’s Agricultural Innovation in Africa and Health Innovation Policy in Africa projects funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2014-2015, he served as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Visiting Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Prof. Juma was elected to several prestigious scientific academies including the Royal Society of London, the US National Academy of Sciences, the World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), the UK Royal Academy of Engineering, and the African Academy of Sciences. He was named one of the most influential 100 Africans in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2016 by the New African magazine. In 2015, he was named by Scientific American as one of the world’s 100 most influential people in biotechnology.

Prof. Juma co-chaired high-level advisory panels for the United Nations and the African Union on science, technology, and innovation. He served on the boards of numerous international organizations and universities and he was a member of the board of the Pan African University of the African Union. He served on the judging panels of Rolex Award for Enterprise, the £1 million Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering and the Africa Food Prize. He was the first permanent Executive Secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and founding Executive Director of the African Centre for Technology Studies in Nairobi. Juma was Chancellor of the University of Guyana, member of the National Social and Economic Council of the President of Kenya, and Special Advisor to the International Whaling Commission.

Prof. Juma had a DPhil in science and technology policy studies from the University of Sussex (UK) and he received several international awards and honorary degrees for his work on sustainable development. He was editor of the peer-reviewed International Journal of Technology and Globalization and the International Journal of Biotechnology. He was the author of The New Harvest: Agricultural Innovation in Africa (2015) and Innovation and Its Enemies: Why People Resist New Technologies (2016). His forthcoming books include Emergent Africa: Evolution of Regional Economic Integration (with Francis Mangeni) and How Economies Succeed: Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Early Life and Education

Prof. Juma grew up on the Kenyan shores of Lake Victoria where he obtained early education as one of the pioneer students of the then Port Victoria Secondary School (now John Osogo SS) from 1968-1971. He first worked as an elementary school teacher before becoming Africa’s first science and environment journalist at Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper. Juma later joined the Nairobi-based Environment Liaison Centre International as a founder and editor of trilingual quarterly magazine, Eco-forum. He later received an MSc in Science, Technology and Industrialization and a DPhil in Science and Technology Policy from the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex. He has written widely on science, technology and sustainable development.

1983–87 Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex; DPhil. (Science and Technology Policy Studies).
1982–83 Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex; MSc. (Science, Technology and Industrialization).
1972–74 Egoji Teachers’ College; Teachers’ Certificate.


In 1988, Prof. Juma founded the African Centre for Technology Studies ( ACTS), Africa’s first independent policy research institution designed to advance research on technology in development. In 1989, ACTS released a groundbreaking study called “Innovation and Sovereignty” that led to the adoption of the Industrial Property Act in Kenya and the creation of the Kenya Industrial Property Office.

Awards and honors

2017 Breakthrough Paradigm Award, Breakthrough Institute, Oakland, California, USA
2013 Doctor of Science (Honorary), McGill University, Canada (for work on agricultural biotechnology).
2012 50th Anniversary Fellow, University of Sussex, UK
2012 Doctor of Science (Honorary), Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Nairobi. Kenya (for work on agricultural biotechnology).
2007 Doctor of Science (Honorary), University of Education, Winneba, Ghana (“illustrious and inspiring role as an internationally-recognized authority and leader in the application of science and technology to sustainable development in both developing and developed countries).
2006 Doctor of Science (Honorary), University of Sussex, UK (for his work on the applications of science and technology in developing and developed countries).
2006 Order of the Elder of the Burning Spear, President of the Republic of Kenya (for being a respected international diplomatic who has assisted governments to solve diplomatic problems).
2001 Henry Shaw Medal, Missouri Botanical Garden (for significant contribution to botanical research, horticulture, conservation or the museum community).
1993 Global 500 Roll of Honour for Environmental Achievement, United Nations Environment Programme (for important contributions made to Africa’s quest for solutions to the complex issues of biotechnology, biodiversity and the transfer of technology).
1992 Justinian Rweyemamu Prize, Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) (for broadening Africa’s knowledge base for development).
1991 Pew Scholars Award in Conservation and the Environment (for dedication in preserving global biodiversity).

Elected membership of scientific and engineering academies

World Academy of Art and Science, USA, Fellow 1989
New York Academy of Sciences, Fellow 2000
US National Academy of Sciences, Foreign Associate 2005
The World Academy of Sciences, Fellow 2005
Royal Society of London, Fellow 2006
African Academy of Sciences, Nairobi, Fellow 2006
Royal Academy of Engineering, London, Honorary Fellow 2007
The Academy of Engineering and Technology of the Developing World, Malaysia 2016

Academic guidance

Prof. Juma provided academic guidance to undergraduate and graduate students in various universities in science, technology, innovation, development, and environmental policy. He Served on numerous MIT PhD committees and acted as external PhD examiner for numerous universities around the world. He trained and mentored policy makers from various developed and developing countries.

Research interests

Prof. Juma specialized in Evolutionary and Systems theory of technological innovation; science and technology policy studies with emphasis on the role of innovation in economic transformation; institutional change; biotechnology and biological diversity; international diplomacy. His work focuses on two topics: application of innovation systems thinking to African agriculture; application of the theory of technological leapfrogging to green development in Africa.

Prof. Juma Testimony Papers

2014. Societal Benefits of Agricultural Biotechnology: Global Status and Outlook, Testimony to the Subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture of the Committee on Agriculture, US House of Representatives, Washington, DC. Hearing on Societal Benefits of Biotechnology, July 9.
2014. Transgenic Crops, Food Security and Development: Status Review and New Policy Directions for Kenya. Written Submission to the Taskforce on Review of Matters Relating to Genetically Modified Foods and Food Security, Ministry of Health, Republic of Kenya, Nairobi, April 22.
2014. The Risks of the Precautionary Principle: Diplomatic Implications and Mitigation Measures. Written Submission to the Select Committee on Science and Technology, UK House of Common, London. Inquiry on GM Foods and the Application of the Precautionary Principle in Europe, February 13.
2011. Agricultural Biotechnology: Opportunities, Benefits and Leadership, Testimony to the Subcommittee on Rural Development, Research, Biotechnology and Rural Agriculture of the Committee on Agriculture, US House of Representatives, Washington, DC. Hearing on Biotechnology: Opportunities and Benefits, June 23.
2007. Food Security, Agriculture and Economic Growth: Opportunities for Cooperation Between the United States and Sub-Saharan Africa, Testimony to the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, US House of Representatives, Washington, DC. Hearing on Food Security in Africa: Impact of Agricultural Development, July 18.
2006. Memorandum Submitted by Professor Calestous Juma, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Select Committee on International Development, House of Commons, UK Parliament, London.
2003. Agricultural Biotechnology and Development: Challenges and Opportunities, Testimony to the Committee on Agriculture, US House of Representatives, Washington, DC. Hearing on Artificial Barriers to U.S. Agricultural Trade and Foreign Food Assistance, March 26.

Prof. Juma Special lectures

2017. Game Over? Drivers of Biological Extinction in Africa. Paper Presented at the Workshop on Biological Extinction: How to Save the Natural World on Which We Depend, Political Academy of Sciences and Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Vatican City, February 27-March 1.

2015. Education, Research and Innovation in Africa: Forging Strategic Linkages for Economic Transformation, Ministerial Meeting of the Specialized Technical Committee on Education, Science and Technology Department of Human Resources, Science and Technology, African Union Commission, Addis Ababa, October 30.

2015. Africa’s Next Harvest: Biological Diversity and Sustainable Development,
Africa Center and School Global Environmental Sustainability, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, November 12.

2014. Africa’s Next Harvest: Technological Leapfrogging and Sustainable Agriculture, Camden Conference on “Global Politics of Food and Water”, Camden, MN, USA, February 21-23.

2013. Universities in Innovation for Economic Transformation: A Tribute to Nelson Mandela, Inaugural Lecture for the Nelson Mandela Innovation Week, Nelson Mandela Institute of African Science and Technology, Arusha, Tanzania, July 11.

2013. Growing Africa: Agricultural Innovation and Economic Transformation. Inaugural Lecture, African Development Policy Program Speakers’ Series, UMass, Amherst, USA, February 22.

2011. Agricultural Science, Technology, and Innovation: Feeding Eastern and Central Africa in the 21st Century. Keynote Speech Presented to the First Annual General Assembly of the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa, Entebbe, Uganda.

2010. Agricultural Innovation in Africa: Technology, Markets, and Government. Philip Raup Lecture on Land and Environmental Policy, University of Minnesota, USA.

2010. Science, Technology and Innovation for Development. Keynote Speech Presented to Summit of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, Swaziland.

2010. Fostering Agricultural Innovation in Africa: Strategies for a Changing Global Environment. Keynote at the Africa Agriculture Week, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

2009. Rebooting Economic Growth in Developing Countries: Entrepreneurship in the Age of Technological Abundance. Keynote at the Innovation Week, College of Engineering, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA.

2009. Africa in the Age of Technological Interdependence: Opportunities and Challenges for International Cooperation. John de la Mothe Memorial Lecture, University of Ottawa, Canada.

2009. Science and Innovation for Sustainability: Harnessing Technological Abundance. Betty Klepper Endowed Lecture, International Annual Meeting of the Crop Science Society of America, Pittsburgh, USA.

2009. Rebooting Development: Innovation Policy in the Age of Technological Abundance. Marie Jahoda Memorial Lecture, University of Sussex, UK.

2009. Security and Development in Africa: Safeguarding Prosperity in a Turbulent World Policy. Commander’s Speaker Series, United States Africa Command, Stuttgart, Germany.

2007. The New Culture of Innovation: Africa in the Age of Technological Opportunities. 8th Summit of the African Union, Addis Ababa.

2006. Redesigning African Economies: The Role of Engineering in International Development. 2006 Hinton Lecture, Royal Academy of Engineering, London.

2006. Reinventing Growth: Technological Innovation and Economic Renewal in Africa. African Development Bank, Tunis.

2006. Reinventing African Economies: Technological Innovation and the Sustainability Transition. 6th John Pesek Colloquium on Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, USA.

1999. Science, Technology and Economic Growth: Africa’s Biopolicy in the 21st Century. United Nations University’s Institute for Natural Resources Annual Lecture, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

1991. Africa Apart: Technology and Environment in the 1990s. Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, London


Prof. Calestous Juma was an internationally-recognized authority and leader in the application of science, engineering, and innovation to sustainable development in developing and developed countries. His original work focused on analyzing the co-evolution of technological innovation and institutional change in socio-economic systems. He directed programs that: advance science, technology, and innovation policy research, especially biotechnology; provide high-level science and technology advice; and promoted the conservation of biological diversity. Juma was a Kenyan national and US permanent resident.

Memorable Quotes by Prof. Juma

"Everything around us constantly changes and so creative options for adapting to this change become the only guarantee we have for a meaningful existence."

"The focus on expanding human capabilities helps society to look to an open, positive, and prosperous future.

If you want to know who your enemies are, start something new."

"When it comes to trade, Africa really should be a country."

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