Walter E. Baethgen is the Director of the Regional and Sectorial Research Program and leader of the Latin America and the Caribbean program in the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI - The Earth Institute, Columbia University). In the IRI he has been establishing regional research programs that aim to improve climate risk assessment and risk management in agriculture, health, water resources, and natural ecosystems. Between August 2010 and April 2012 Baethgen acted as Distinguished Lead Scholar of the NEXUS program (Fulbright Foundation) that aims to inform the elaboration of policy with scientific research. Before joining the IRI Baethgen was a Senior Scientist in the Research and Development Division of IFDC, where he worked mainly in Information and Decision Support Systems for the Agricultural Sector (1987-2003). In that role he established and coordinated regional research programs in Latin America in collaboration with national and international organizations.
Baethgen has acted as a consultant for the Inter-American Development Bank, UNDP, UNIDO, FAO, the IAEA, The World Bank and IICA. He also acted as consultant for the governments of Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Guatemala and Uruguay, and for the private sector in Argentina, Uruguay and Venezuela. He was a lead author for IPCC's Second (1995) and Third (2001) Assessments Reports and contributing author for the Fourth Assessment (2007), as well as the review editor for IPCC's special issue on Technology Transfer (2000). He serves or has served as a member of scientific advisory committees of several International organizations including the CGIAR Science Council, IAI, CIIFEN, VAMOS-WCRP, IGBP and WMO. Baethgen is an Editorial Board Member of the peer-reviewed journal Agricultural Systems (Elsevier Science) and Journal of the International Hydrological Programme (UNESCO), and a regular reviewer for scientific journals of USA, Europe and Latin America.
Baethgen obtained his PhD and M.Sc. degrees in Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and his B.Sc. in Agricultural Engineering from he University of Uruguay. He has over 150 publications to his credit.