Mark Swilling is an accomplished professional with a diverse range of roles and achievements. He is a member of the International Resource Panel and a fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science. Additionally, he had served as a board member of the Development Bank of Southern Africa since 2014 and held the position of Chairperson from January 2019 to September 2019, and again from November 2021 to the present.
Throughout his career, the individual has focused on research collaborations aimed at catalyzing societal transitions, particularly within the urban context. In 1985, he played a pivotal role in establishing a Johannesburg-based NGO called PLANACT. The organization, funded by European donors, employed over 40 activist researchers and provided research support to South Africa's urban social movements during the 1980s and 1990s. His involvement extended to supporting the negotiations process that led to the adoption of the new democratic constitution in 1994.
In recent years, Mark Swilling has expanded his work on an international scale, particularly through his role in the United Nations' International Resource Panel since 2007. He has engaged in research collaborations and played a leading role in producing the Weight of Cities report published by the IRP in 2018. As the co-lead author and coordinator of an international research team, he dedicated four years to the project. His focus has been on using research processes to enhance evidence-based problem-solving and capacity-building initiatives.
In 2017, in response to a cabinet reshuffle in March, he initiated the State Capacity Research Project. This collaborative effort involves researchers from the University of Cape Town, University of Johannesburg, University of the Witwatersrand, and Stellenbosch University. The project's primary objective is to conduct research on state-owned enterprises and various aspects related to the concept of state capture.
Mark Swilling's extensive experience, research contributions, and commitment to addressing societal challenges position him as a notable figure in his field.