Trained as a mathematician and hydrologist, Professor Kabat has worked in the field of earth system sciences since the early 1980s, with a focus on transdisciplinary approaches, land-atmosphere interactions and biogeochemical feedbacks. In July 2020, he was appointed Secretary General of the International Human Frontier Science Program Organization (HFSPO) after serving as the inaugural Chief Scientist and Research Director of the Geneva based World Meteorological Organization (WMO) of the United Nations and as Director General and Chief Executive Officer of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Austria.
HFSPO was established in 1989 by the G7 nations and the European Commission to advance international research at the frontier of the life sciences. It is supported by the G7 nations, together with the European Commission, Switzerland, Australia, India, Israel, New Zealand, Singapore and the Republic of Korea. The HFSP frontier network includes over 7,500 scientists, among whom 28 HFSPO awardees have gone on to win the Nobel Prize.
Since late 1990s, he has been Professor at Wageningen University, the Netherlands. In 2013, he was named Knight in the Order of the Netherlands Lion and in 2018 was awarded the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art, First Class.