Sebastian Oberthür

Director of Research Centre

Sebastian Oberthür is the Director of the Research Centre for Environment, Economy and Energy, and a Research Professor for Environment and Sustainable Development at the Brussels School of Governance. He is also Professor of Environmental Policy and Law at the Centre for Climate Change, Energy and Environmental Law at the University of Eastern Finland. From 2005 to 2015, Sebastian Oberthür served as Academic Director of the Institute for European Studies (now part of the Brussels School of Governance). From 2006 to 2013, he was a member of the Compliance Committee of the Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC. Since 2000, he has furthermore acted as a special policy advisor on international climate policy to the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Protection and Nuclear Safety. Since 1996, he has also been an appointed member and representative of the International Council of Environmental Law (ICEL). He is a member of Climate Strategies – an international research network focusing on climate and energy policy. Before joining the Brussels School of Governance in 2005, Sebastian Oberthür served as a part-time assistant professor for international relations at the Otto-Friedrich-University Bamberg. Previously, he was a senior research fellow with Ecologic, the Institute for International and European Environmental Policy in Berlin, with which he remains a Senior Policy Advisor. Sebastian Oberthür studied political science in Marburg and Berlin. He received a PhD from the Free University Berlin for his work on "The Contribution of International Regimes to Solving Environmental Problems" (summa cum laude).

Trained as a political scientist with a strong background in international law, he focuses on issues of international and European environmental governance, with an emphasis on institutional issues and perspectives. His current research interest extends in particular to the horizontal and vertical integration of international institutions and policies relevant to the environment, including the interplay between environmental agreements/institutions and other policies (e.g. trade, transport), as well as the role and performance of the EU in international (environmental) institutions. He has, inter alia, conducted studies on the interaction between international institutions, the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the structure and design of the system of international environmental institutions, the role of non-governmental organizations in international environmental governance, the reporting of data under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, and the foreign environmental policy making of the European Union in international environmental agreements. Dr. Oberthür has published widely on these subjects and is invited regularly as an expert to participate in and speak at relevant conferences and workshops. He serves on the editorial boards and review panels of various journals and as a reviewer of several national science foundations. He is also co-editor of the book series on "The European Union in International Affairs" with Palgrave Macmillan.

List of publications (on VUB publications platform)

Featured publications

EU climate and energy governance in times of crisis

Published on 28.06.2021
Journal Articles

Taking stock of EU climate governance: key challenges

Published on 27.04.2021
Policy briefs


Power to X and Carbon Capture & Utilization Roadmap for Belgium

Period March 2020 - February 2025
Funded By

Directorate-General for Energy

PLATON - PLATform for Open and Nationally accessible climate policy knowledge

Period January 2019 - December 2022
Funded By

Fridtjof Nansen Institute

The Research Council of Norway

Policy integration: decarbonisation and security of supply in the European Union's external energy policy

Period January 2019 - December 2022
Funded By

Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek

EDGE: Evaluating Democratic Governance in Europe

Period November 2017 - October 2022
Funded By


ROLECS - Roll-Out of Local Energy Communities

Period January 2019 - September 2021
Funded By


CONNECT - Understanding the international context for Norway's low-emission economy transition

Period September 2017 - August 2021
Funded By

The Research Council of Norway/KLIMAFORSK Programme

Beton Naar Beton

Period March 2018 - February 2021
Funded By

Interreg Europe

Climate Diplomacy 2019-2020

Period December 2019 - December 2020
Funded By


German Federal Foreign Office

The Climate Friendly Materials Platform

Period October 2019 - December 2020
Funded By

European Climate Foundation

COP21: Results, Implications, Pathways and Policies for Low-Emissions European Societies (COP21-RIPPLES)

Period December 2016 - November 2020
Funded By

European Commission - Horizon 2020

Research Network on Regime (REFRACT)

Period January 2015 - December 2019