Researcher biography

Professor Saleem Ali is the Director of the Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining (CSRM). Since starting at CSRM in 2012, Professor Ali has committed to expanding the work of CSRM to cover pressing development challenges in extractive economies in partnership with industry and international aid agencies. As an environmental planner, his research and practice is highly interdisciplinary and aims to inform social management with rigorous science.

As part of the Sustainable Minerals Institute's NextMine initiative, Prof. Ali leads the UQ Rare Earths Minerals Consortium — a research effort that brings together international academics, industry practitioners and policy makers to consider ways of applying industrial ecology principles to supply of rare earth minerals worldwide. He is also working with the Australian Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism on the evaluation of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. In 2013-2014, Prof. Ali will lead research into Mining & Traditional Livelihoods in Mongolia using a Gender-Sensitive Socio-ecological systems approach, using funds from the from Ausaid Advanced Development Research Awards Scheme (ADRAS), and will oversee a project funded by the World Bank to investigate Fiscal and non-fiscal contributions of Mining to the Madagascar Economy. His current industrial engagement includes serving as a lead advisor on social investment for Vale Malaysia in partnership with JK-Tech.

His training and teaching at CSRM include modules on mineral economic history and conflict resolution for the Anglo American Advanced Social Management Program held in South Africa and Chile (in partnership with the University of Cambridge, UK).

Former Professional Experience

Prior to accepting the position at CSRM, Prof. Ali was a Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Vermont's Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources and the Director of the Institute for Environmental Diplomacy and Security at UVM's James Jeffords Center for Policy Research. He was also on the adjunct faculty of Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies and the visiting faculty for the United Nations mandated University for Peace (Costa Rica).

Before embarking on an academic career, Prof. Ali worked as an environmental health and safety professional at General Electric (based at GE headquarters in Fairfield, CT, and at silicone resin manufacturing sites in New York). He has served as a consultant for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Health Canada. He has also been an Associate at the Boston-based consulting firm Industrial Economics Inc. Some of his pro bono projects include a mining impact prospectus for the Crowe Tribe of Montana and research assistance to Cultural Survival (an indigenous rights NGO).

Past Research

Prof. Ali's primary research interests have been in the causes and consequences of environmental conflicts in the research sector, and the process of using ecological factors to promote peace. Some of Prof. Ali's former research appointments include a visiting fellowship at the Brookings Institution's research center in Doha, Qatar; a Public Policy Fellowship at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, a Baker Foundation Research Fellowship at Harvard Business School and a parliamentary internship at the U.K. House of Commons. Dr Ali has teaching experience in courses on environmental planning, conflict resolution, industrial ecology, research methods and technical writing.


Prof. Ali's most recent book is titled Treasures of the Earth: Need, Greed and a Sustainable Future (Yale University Press, 2010). Among his earlier works is the acclaimed comparative case-based research book Mining, the Environment and Indigenous Development Conflicts (University of Arizona Press). Prof. Ali has served as an editor in many publications including Earth Matters: Indigenous Peoples, The Extractive Industries and Corporate Social Responsibility (edited with Ciaran O'Fairchellaegh) and the widely acclaimed volume Peace Parks: Conservation and Conflict Resolution (MIT Press, September, 2007), which has received cover endorsements from environmental scientists E.O. Wilson, George Schaller and UNEP executive director Achim Steiner, and a foreword by IUCN Director General Julia Marton-Lefevre.

Awards and Recognition

The World Economic Forum chose Prof. Ali as a "Young Global Leader" in 2011. He has also been selected by the National Geographic Society as an "Emerging Explorer" and was profiled in "Forbes magazine" in September, 2009 in an article titled "The Alchemist."

Other Interests and positions

Prof. Ali is a member of the World Commission on Protected Areas and the IUCN Taskforce on Transboundary Conservation. He is also a professional mediator and has conducted workshops on consensus-building for private and public interests. He has assisted in the peer review process for research publications with the World Bank, the International Institute for Sustainable Development, The Woodrow Wilson Center, the Journal of Environmental Management, the Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, the Natural Resources Forum and Yale University Press.

Prof. Ali is involved in numerous non-profit organizations to promote environmental peace-building. He currently serves on the board of The DMZ Forum for Peace and Nature Conservation and International Peace Park Expeditions in the United States and on the board of governors for LEAD-Pakistan. He has also been involved in promoting environmental education in madrassahs (Islamic religious schools) and using techniques from environmental planning to study the rise of these institutions in his ethnic homeland, Pakistan. This prompted Prof. Ali to publish a sole-authored book in January 2009 titled Islam and Education: Conflict and Conformity in Pakistan's Madrassahs (Oxford University Press)

Professor Ali received his doctorate in Environmental Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), an M.E.S. in environmental law and policy from Yale University, and his Bachelors in Chemistry from Tufts University (summa cum laude).