• Room 8A-65, NU-building

  • Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), De Boelelaan 1111

    1081 HV Amsterdam

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Personal profile

Personal information

Žiga Malek is an Assistant Professor in Land Use and Ecosystem Dynamics. His main research interests are the changes to land systems and how to achieve more sustainable use of land and ecosystems. Specifically, his interests are analysing changes in future land use, land cover and land management due to growing food and timber demand, evaluating sustainable adaptation options (such as irrigation efficiency improvements), identifying the tradeoffs between future cropland expansion, intensification and biodiversity protection, and improving the simulation of responses to climate change in land system modeling.

He is interested in regions in socio-economic transition and areas particularly vulnerable to future global change. Žiga has experience in working on various sustainability issues from all around the world: wetland protection in the Pacific, woodland degradation in East Africa, lagoon management in the Caribbean, land use and water interactions in Northern Africa and Middle East, agricultural expansion and deforestation in the Amazon basin, forest management in Central Asia, multifunctional landscapes in the Mediterranean, and smallholder adaptation to future climate change in tropical regions, to name a few.

Žiga is a lecturer on spatial analysis, land based mitigation, and sustainability and environmental change in general. He has supervised more than 25 MSc students, and cosupervises PhD students as well.

Before joining the IVM, Žiga worked as a researcher in Austria at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and the University of Vienna. There, he worked on the potential effects of land systems changes on future hydro-meteorological risks, such as landslides and floods.


Žiga is regularly involved in consultancy projects on reducing our environmental impact and sustainable transitions in the agriculture, forestry and other land use sector, commissioned by several high-level and international societal partners, among others:

  • European Environment Agency
  • European Commission, Directorate General for Trade
  • United Nations Development Programme
  • United Nations Environment Programme, World Conservation Monitoring Centre
  • Inter-American Development Bank
  • Fairtrade International
  • U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


Land systems, spatial analysis and modeling, scenarios, GIS


​2015: PhD in Natural Sciences, Dr. rer. nat. (Doctor of Natural Science)​ ​University of Vienna, Austria. Thesis: Combining participatory and geospatial modelling to generate spatially explicit land change scenarios.   ​

2010: University degree in Landscape Architecture (MSc equivalent) ​University of Ljubljana, Slovenia​.

Ancillary activities

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Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 15 - Life on Land


  • GE Environmental Sciences
  • land systems
  • land use change
  • global change
  • environmental modelling
  • Spatial Analysis
  • GIS


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