Professor Jan Pronk, has garnered repute as one of the most influential persons in Development Cooperation in the Netherlands, both through his distinguished career as a politician and a prominent United Nations Official. He studied Economics at Erasmus University Rotterdam where he worked in research, and has made extensive scholarly contributions to the field of development. In 1971 he took up politics and has since served as the Minister of Development Cooperation from 1973-1977, 1989-1994, and 1994-1998, and as Minister of Housing and Environment in 1998-2002. He was appointed Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) from 1980-1986, and served as the Special representative for the United Nations Mission to Sudan for Darfur (2004-2006).
Jan Pronk has two honourary degrees: from the San Marco University, Peru, and the Institute of Social Studies. He was knighted in the Order of the Netherlands Lion and is a member of four chivalric orders. The Institute of Social Studies awarded its honorary Social Studies awarded its honorary doctorate to Jan Pronk in 2002.