Ismail Serageldin

About Serageldin

Ismail Serageldin is the Founding Director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (BA), the new Library of Alexandria, inaugurated in 2002. He also chairs the Boards of Directors for each of the BA's affiliated research institutes and museums. He is advisor to the Egyptian Prime Minister in matters concerning culture, science and museums. He serves as Chair or Member of a number of advisory committees for academic, research, scientific and international institutions and civil society efforts, including as co-Chair of the Nizami Ganjavi International Center (NGIC),  and serves on the Advisory Committee of the World Social Science Report for 2013 and 2016, as well as the UNESCO-supported World Water Scenarios (2013) and the executive council of the Encyclopedia of Life (2010) and Chairs the Executive Council of the World Digital Library (2010). Serageldin is a member in the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the National Academy of Medicine's (NAM) Committee studying Human Gene Editing: Scientific, Medical and Ethical Considerations.He also co-chaired the African Union’s high level panel for Biotechnology (2006) and again for Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) in 2012-2013, and was a member of the ICANN Panel for the review of the internet future (2013).

Before that he notably co-chaired the Inter-Academy Panel on Capacity Building for Science in (2003-2004) and was a member of the High Level group for the Alliance of Civilizations convened by the Secretary General of the United Nations (2006-2007). He has held many important international positions, including Vice President of the World Bank (1992-2000), and Chairman Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR, 1994-2000), founder and former Chairman of the Global Water Partnership (GWP, 1996-2000) and the Consultative Group to Assist the Poorest (CGAP), a microfinance program (1995-2000) and was professor of the International Savoirs Contre Pauvreté (Knowledge Against Poverty), at Collège de France, Paris, and distinguished professor at Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

He is a member of many academies, including the US National Academy of Sciences (Public Welfare Medalist), the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), the World Academy of Arts and Sciences (WAAS), the European Academy of Sciences and Arts, the African Academy of Sciences, Institut d'Egypte (Egyptian Academy of Science), the Royal Belgian Academy, the Bangladesh Academy of Sciences, the Indian National Academy of Agricultural Sciences. He lectures widely, and has delivered the Mandela Lecture in Johannesburg (2011) and the Nexus Lecture in Tilburg, the Netherlands (2011) as well as the opening keynote address to the first International Summit of the Book at the Library of Congress in Washington DC (2012).

He has received the Order of the Rising Sun from Japan and the Legion d’Honneur from France and is a Commandeur of Arts and Letters of the French Republic. In 2013, Serageldin and the BA received the Calouste Gulbenkian International Prize for thoughts and actions that make a decisive contribution to, and have significant impact on understanding, defending and fostering the universal values of respect for diversity and difference, a culture of tolerance and the conservation of the environment. He has also received the Pablo Neruda Medal from Chile, India’s Bajaj Prize for upholding Gandhian values outside India, and was the first recipient of the Grameen Prize for lifelong efforts to fight poverty, and received the Champion of Youth Award by the World Youth Congress in Canada.

Serageldin has published over 100 books and monographs and over 500 papers on a variety of topics, including biotechnology, rural development, sustainability, and the value of science to society. He has hosted a cultural program on television in Egypt (over 130 episodes) and developed a TV Science Series in Arabic and English. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Engineering from Cairo University and a Master's Degree and a Ph.D. from Harvard University and has received 35 honorary doctorates.

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1996: Doctor of Sociology, University of Bucharest, Romania.
1996: Doctor of Agricultural Science, University of Melbourne, Australia.
1997: Doctor of Science, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, India.
1998: Doctor of International Affairs, American University, Washington, DC, USA.
1998: Doctor of Science, Punjab Agricultural University, India.
1998: Doctor of Science, Tamil Nadu Veterinary & Animal Sciences University, India.
1998: Doctor of Natural Resources Management, Ohio State University, USA.
1999: Doctor of Science, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, India.
1999: Doctor of Science, ANGRAU, Hyderabad, India.
1999: Doctor of Economics and Management, CNAM, Paris, France.
1999: Doctor of Science, Egerton University, Kenya.
1999: Doctor of Agricultural Science, University of Tuscia, Italy.
2000: Doctor of Humane Letters, American University in Cairo, Egypt.
2002: Doctor of Science, SNHU, Manchester NH, USA.
2003: Doctor of Science, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada.
2004: Doctor of Letters, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia. 2004: Doctor of Letters, Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France.
2005: Doctor of Laws, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA.
2006: Doctor of Letters, Université de Nantes, Nantes, France.
2007: Doctor of Science, Azerbaijan State Economic University, Baku, Azerbaijan.
2007: Doctor of Society Development, Khazar University, Baku, Azerbaijan.
2008: Doctor of Letters, Laval University, Quebec, Canada.
2009: Doctor of Arts, Beirut Arab University, Beirut, Lebanon.
2009: Doctor Diploma, Azerbaijan Cooperation University, Baku, Azerbaijan.
2009: Doctor Diploma, National Academy of Sciences, Institute of History, Baku Azerbaijan.
2009: Doctor of Letters, University of Dublin, Dublin, Ireland.
2010: Doctor Degree, ANAS Institute of Oriental Studies, Baku, Azerbaijan.
2010: Doctor Degree, Georgian American University, Tbilisi, Georgia.
2010: Doctor Degree, Free University of Tbilisi, Georgia.
2012: Doctor Degree, University of Georgia, Tbilisi, Georgia.
2012: Doctor Degree, Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia.
2012: Doctor Degree, State Agricultural University, Ganja, Azerbaijan.
2012: Doctor Degree, Odlar Yurdu University, Baku, Azerbaijan.
2015: Doctor of Humane Letters, American University of Beirut, Lebanon
2016: Doctor Honoris Causa of Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski, Bulgaria


  • Professor of the International Chair “Savoirs contre Pauvreté” (Knowledge Against Poverty), Collège de France, (2010-2011).
  • Distinguished University Professor at Wageningen University, the Netherlands.
  • Co-Chair of the African Biotechnology Panel (with Calestous Juma).
  • Member of the High Level Group (HLG) of the Secretary-General’s UN initiative for the Alliance of Civilizations, (2005-2006).
  • Chairman of the Youth Employment Summit (YES) Campaign, (1998-2002).
  • Special Advisor to the World Bank.
  • Co-Chair (with Jacob Palis) of the Inter-Academy Council Panel on Capacity Building in Science and Technology, (2002-2004).
  • Distinguished Visiting Professor at the American University in Cairo (AUC), (2000/2001).
  • Advisor to the Egyptian Government on the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.
  • Vice President of the World Bank till July 2000, (for Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development, from October 1992 to March 1998, and for Special Programs from March 1998 to July 2000)
  • Chairman of Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR, 1994-2000).
  • Chairman of Consultative Group to Assist the Poorest (CGAP), a microfinance program, (1995-2000).
  • Chairman of the Global Water Partnership, (GWP, 1996-2000).
  • Chairman, World Commission for Water in the 21st Century, (August 1998-March 2000).
  • Vice President of the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS).
      He also worked in a number of capacities at:
  • The World Bank since joining in 1972.
  • Economist in Education and Human Resources (1972-1976)
  • Division Chief for Technical Assistance and Special Studies (1977-1980)
  • Urban Projects in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa (1980-1983)
  • Director of Programs in West Africa (1984-1987)
  • Country Director of Central and Occidental Africa (1987-1989)
  • Technical Director of all Sub-Saharan Africa (1990-1992)
  • Vice-President of Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development (1993-1998).

     In addition, he was active in promoting NGO-Bank relations, and served as Co-Chairman of the NGO-Bank Committee (1997-1999). Prior to joining the World Bank, he worked as a consultant in city and regional planning, and taught at Cairo University and Harvard University.

  • Vice President and member of Institut d'Egypte (Egyptian Academy of Science).
  • Member of US National Academy of Sciences (Public Welfare Medalist).
  • Member of the American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia.
  • Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
  • Member of Academy of Sciences of the Developing World (TWAS) Trieste, Italy.
  • African Academy of Sciences.
  • Bangladesh Academy of Science, Dhaka.
  • National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, India.
  • European Academy of Sciences and Arts, Austria.
  • American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).
  • World Academy of Arts and Sciences, USA.
  • Academia Bibliotheca Alexandrina (ABA).
  • Science and Technology in Society (STS) Forum.
  • The Royal Society of Arts and Sciences in Gothenburg.
  • Supreme Council for Culture, Egypt.
  • The International Academy of Food Science & Technology, Canada.
  • Scientific Advisory Committee of the World Social Science Report 2013, UNESCO.
  • Co-chair of the BoT of Nizami Ganjavi International Center.
  • Pacific Institute Advisory Council
  • Honorary Academician of the Royal European Academy of Doctors, Barcelona, Spain
Over 100 books and monographs (edited or authored), in addition to 500 articles, book chapters, and technical papers on various topics, some of which are:
  • Water Supply, Sanitation, and Environmental Sustainability: The Financing Challenge, 1994.  
  • Nurturing Development, 1995. 
  • Sustainability and the Wealth of Nations, 1996. 
  • Milestones of Renewal: A Journey of Hope and Accomplishment, 1996. 
  • Architecture of Empowerment, 1997. 
  • Rural Well-Being: From Vision to Action, 1997, (with David Steeds). 
  • The Modernity of Shakespeare, 1998. 
  • Themes for the Third Millennium, the Challenge for Rural Sociology in an Urbanizing World, 1999. 
  • Biotechnology and Biosafety, 1999, (with Wanda Collins). 
  • Very Special Places, 1999. 
  • Promethean Science, 2000, (with G. Persley). 
  • Biotechnology and Sustainable Development: Voices of the South and North, 2003, (with G. Persley). 
  • Discovery to Delivery, 2005, (with G. Persley). 
  • Changing Lives, 2006, (with E. Masood). 
  • Born Digital, 2006. 
  • Reflections on Our Digital Future, 2006. 
  • Inventing Our Future: Essays on Freedom; Democracy and Reform in the Arab World, 2007. (2nd edition) 
  • Science: The Culture of Living Change, 2007. (2nd edition) 
  • Freedom of Expression, 2007. 
  • Islam and Democracy, 2008. 
  • The Shape of Tomorrow, 2010. 
  • The Arab Cultural Project, 2010. 
  • Mobiliser le savoir pour éradiquer la faim, (the College de France/Fayard, Paris 2011). 
  • The Making of Social Justice, (the 2011 Mandela Lecture, Johannesburg, South Africa). 
  • The Culture Of The Book: The Book Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, 2012. DVD  
  • Reflections on Education: On Education and the Future of the Arab World: Tomorrow’s Universities and the Seven Pillars of Knowledge Revolution, 2013.
  • The Poetry of the Magnificent Sage, 2013. 
  • Shakespeare and the Burden of Leadership, 2013. DVD 
  • The Poetry of the Magnificent Sage, 2013. DVD 
  • Shakespeare's Henry V: Modern Reflections on a Medieval Hero, 2013. DVD 
  • Shakespeare's Richard II: Reflections of the Undoing of a King, 2013. DVD 
  • Public Health and Private Medicine: Looking Back and Looking Forward, 2013. DVD 
  • La Renaissance de la Bibliotheca Alexandrina, 2014. DVD 
  • Jurji Zaidan: The Man and his Legacy, 2014. DVD 
  • Hassan Fathy: Egypt's Visionary Architect, 2015. DVD 
  •  Experiencing Alexandria: The City as Text and Context, 2015. DVD 
  • Global Ethics: Wise Words from the Sage of Ganja, 2015. DVD 
  • The Challenge: A Cultural Program to Reject Extremism and Violence, 2015. 


  • 1999: First recipient of Grameen Foundation (USA) Award, for a lifetime commitment to combating poverty.
  •  2003: Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters, awarded by the Government of France.
  • 2004: Pablo Neruda Medal of Honor, awarded by the Government of Chile.
  • 2006: The Jamnalal Bajaj Award, for promoting Ghandian values outside India.
  • 2008: Order of the Rising Sun – Gold and Silver Star, awarded by the Emperor of Japan.
  • 2008: Champion of Youth Award, by the World Youth Congress in Quebec.
  • 2008: Knight of the French Legion of Honor, awarded by the President of France.
  • 2010: The Dr. M. S. Swaminathan Award for Environmental Protection, (Chennai, India).
  • 2010: Millennium Excellence Award for Lifetime Africa Achievement Prize, awarded by the Excellence Awards Foundation, Ghana.
  • 2011: The Public Welfare Medal, by the National Academy of Sciences, Washington DC.
  • 2011: Commander of the Order of Arts & Letters, awarded by the Government of France.
  • 2013: Calouste Gulbenkian Prize, awarded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Portugal.
  • 2015:  Nizami Ganjavi Gold Medal of the Republic of Azerbaijan awarded by Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences
  • 2015: The “Dostlug” Order (Order of Friendship)  of Azerbaijan awarded by President of Azerbaijan
  • 2016 : Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation Award 2016
  • 2016: Honorary Sign of the President of the Bulgarian  Academy of Sciences


World Bank

After a career of 28 years at the World Bank, Ismail Serageldin resigned on 10 July 2000 to return to his home country Egypt. Serageldin started as a young Professional in 1972 and became a Vice president in October 1992 (effective January 1st 1993)...



From 1993-2000, Ismail Serageldin served as the 7th Chairman of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). CGIAR is the worlds largest ongoing cooperative effort to harness science for the promotion of sustainable agriculture...



Ismail Serageldin has been one of the most important voices calling for attention to the issues of water throughout the last decade. In August 1995 he warned that "if the wars of this century were fought over oil, the wars of the next century will be fought over water...



With around a billion young people in School about to enter the labor force and anther 1.5 billion right behind them before the structure of population stabilizes, there will be enormous pressure for finding appropriate livelihoods for these multitudes...


Micro Finance

Ismail Serageldin has played an important role in the support of the international micro-finance movement. He has been a long time supporter of the efforts to empower the poor through micro-finance services. In 1995 Serageldin joined with Muhammad Yunus...



Ismail Serageldin was a leading candidate for the position of Director-General (DG) of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1999. Throughout this campaign, we maintained a Website...



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