Debra Roberts established and heads the Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department of eThekwini Municipality (Durban, South Africa). Her key responsibilities in this post include: overseeing the planning and protection of the city’s biodiversity and natural resource base; directing and developing the municipality’s Climate Protection Programme; and ensuring that biodiversity and climate change considerations influence all aspects of planning and development in the city.

Dr. Roberts is currently a lead author of Chapter 8 (Urban Areas) and a contributing author to Chapter 12 (Africa) of Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report, due for release in 2014. She is also a member of the South African climate negotiating team. She sits on various international advisory bodies focused on climate change issues in cities (e.g. the Rockefeller Foundation’s Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network). In addition she acted as vice-chair and then chair of UN-Habitat’s HS-NET Advisory Board which oversaw the production of the 2011 “Cities and Climate Change” Global Report. Most recently she has been appointed as one of the 60 international experts convened under Royal Decree by the King of Bhutan to work on the preparation of “The New Development Paradigm Report” which will be submitted to the United Nations General Assembly in 2014. Dr Roberts will co-chair the Ecological Sustainability Working Group of the “New Development Paradigm” International Expert Working Group. Dr. Roberts has written widely in the fields of urban open space planning, environmental management and urban climate protection and has received a number of awards for her work.