Working Group Members

Two Working Groups have been established and each of them has been given the task to elaborate a White Paper on one of the identified conference topics. The White Papers will serve as scientific input papers to be discussed during the UNCCD 2nd Scientific Conference. They will also build the foundation of the State of the Art Report as one of the main conference outputs. The White Papers are expected to be published in peer reviewed journals.

Elena Maria Abraham is a Scientific Researcher of the CONICET (National Council of Scientific and Technical Research), Director of IADIZA (Argentine Institute for Research on Arid Lands) and Professor of Environmental Planning & Management at the Congress University in Argentina.

She is working on developing methodological frameworks able to consolidate integrated, participative and multi-scale approaches to desertification assessment and on the generation of local development strategies to combat desertification in the Monte desert in Argentina. To date she has published over 120 contributions to the knowledge of theoretical, methodological and application aspects related to the environment and human settlements in drylands.

Dorothy Amwata is Assistant Lecturer at the South Eastern University College in the Constituent College of the University of Nairobi in Kenya.

She is currently writing a PhD at the University of Nairobi with the title "Influence of climate variability, land-use in southern rangelands of Kenya". From 2007-2010 she worked as a research for development officer at Observatoire du Sahara et du Sahel (OSS) in Tunisia. Her work at OSS was on multilateral environmental issues: conservation of biodiversity, mitigation of the impacts of desertification, and impacts of climate change within circum-Saharan Africa. Moreover, she has worked for the Kenya Wildlife Service as a research scientist in the Department of Research, Biodiversity and Planning for 5 years. Her contributions were mainly on ecosystem dynamics, livelihoods and food security, natural resource and conflicts management in the drylands.

Mercedes Zoraida Aranibar Seminario is Consultant for GLOBAL MECHANISM/ ECLAC in Peru.

She is an economist with a MSc. in Latin American Economic Development, obtained from the International University of Andalucia, Spain. Currently, she is involved in public projects for the Regional Government of Piura and working as a consultant of ECLAC/MM Group on the Economic Value of Land Degradation and Climate Change scenarios in Latin American Countries.

Hatem Belhouchette is currently associate professor-researcher in the UMR-System.

In 2004 he completed his PhD thesis on the topic "cropping system sustainability by using bio-economic approach associated to GIS system in Northern Tunisia". Since 2003 he is appointed at the IAM-Montpellier Institute as a lecturer and researcher in Agricultural Production Systems, in the UMR-System. He is also lecturer and researcher at SupAgro Montpellier. His main research is on the development of operational methods for the exploration and design of future agricultural production systems, both at farm and regional level. He was involved in several national and international research projects, and supervises Master and PhDs projects on topics related to climate change.

Viorel Blujdea is a senior researcher (PhD) at FRMI and detached expert to the European Commission (April 2008 - April 2014), former Chief of Ecology Department of FRMI and associate professor of Ecology at University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine in Bucharest.

His research is on carbon stock changes, forest degradation and restoration, afforestation of degraded lands and environmental impact assessment of industrial activities. He has experience in implementation of environmental & financial synergies in afforestation projects, technic-scientific and decision-making support for LULUCF in estimation & reporting GHG inventories and accounting under Kyoto protocol, at national and EU level. He was Chair of the Committee for Science and Technology of the United Nation Convention to Combat Desertification (2005-2007) and the Romanian National Focal Point to the UNCCD (between 2003-2008).

Guillermo Dascal is Consultant for CEPAL PRAIS Focal Point at CEPAL UN in Chile.

He is geographer with a post graduate degree in ecology and territorial planning with extensive experience in fund raising and donor management, public-private partnerships, citizen participation and promotion of strategic inter- institutional agreements. Guillermo Dascal has been involved in the planning and implementation process of various projects on environmental management, climate change, desertification, biodiversity and indigenous groups. From 2007 to 2009 he worked in the formulation and implementation of the UNDP-SGP GEF-European Union joint project focused on combating desertification. From April 2009 to date he is working at ECLAC-UN in the Sustainable Development and Human Settlements Division on desertification and climate change issues, providing technical assistance to government authorities on the elaboration of UNCCD national reports and producing geo-economic information on the cost of land degradation for LAC countries.

Herminia A. Francisco is the Director of the Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia EEPSEA.

She leads EEPSEA in developing local environmental economics research capacity to address critical environmental and natural resource problems in the region. Prior to assuming her current post as Director of EEPSEA, she was its part-time Deputy Director for several years before becoming full-time Deputy Director in 2005, when she was stationed in Cambodia. During her two-year stint in Cambodia, she worked closely with researchers from the Cambodia Development Resource Institute (CDRI), the Ministry of Environment, and the Community-Based Management Natural Resource Learning Institute (CBMNR-Li). Her written work covers topics such as the economics of soil erosion and conservation, the pricing of environmental services, climate change adaptation, and institutional issues governing the management of common pool resources. Prior to joining EEPSEA for several years she taught at the University of the Philippines, Los Baños and was also involved in providing consultancy services to several international organizations.

Alemu Mekonnen Getnet is Assistant Professor at the Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia.

Alemu Mekonnen has over 20 years of experience in research, teaching and consultancy, mainly on economic aspects of environment and development issues in developing countries in general and in Ethiopia in particular. He has contributed a number of articles, book chapters and papers in conference proceedings. His areas of research interest include sustainable land management, energy, forestry, climate change and poverty.

Ian Hannam is adjunct Associate Professor for the Australian Centre for Agriculture and Law at the University of New England in Armidale, NSW Australia.

He is specialist consultant to various United Nations network organizations on projects in China, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Thailand, Iceland and South America since 1997. He published numerous environmental law and scientific articles on sustainable use of natural resources, ecosystem management, soil and water conservation, river basin management, ecosystem management. He is a member of the IUCN Commission on Environmental Law; and Chair of Specialist Law Group for Sustainable Use of Soil and Desertification. He is a Co-author of the global text book on "Response to Land Degradation". He developed analytical methodologies for assessing capacity of environmental laws (translated into 5 languages), published by the International Water Management Institute. He is as well Councilor of the World Association of Soil and Water Conservation.

Jane Kabubo-Mariara is the Director of School of Economics at the University of Nairobi in Kenya

She holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Nairobi. She is a member of a number of regional and international professional societies. Her key research interests include the impact of climate change on agriculture, environmental and natural resource economics and poverty and income distribution issues with emphasis on multiple dimensions of child poverty. Currently she is a member of the editorial board of Environment and Development Economics and an associate editor of the African Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics (AFJARE). She is also a resource person with the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) and the Poverty and Economic Policy (PEP) Research network.

Klaus Kellner is Professor and Senior Lecturer at North-West University in South Africa.

He is a re-elected C2 NRF rated scientists till 2016. His expertise is in vegetation dynamics with emphasis on Sustainable Land Management (SLM) technologies, impacts of land degradation, desertification and drought (DLDD) and the restoration of degraded rangelands in mainly arid and semi-arid ecosystems in Southern Africa. He is the leader/coordinator of a number of National and International research projects and has done numerous consultancies for all sectors (including the UN agencies) in his field of expertise. He is the Science and Technology Correspondent (STC) for South Africa and on the Roster for experts for the UNCCD (United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification). He was the Chairman of the Bureau for the Committee on Science and Technology (CST) and a member of the Board for the UNCCD (COP Bureau) till October 2011, where he also represented the African Continent. He is a member of several scientific organisations and on the advisory or editorial board of scientific journals.

José Roberto de Lima is consultant for the Center for Strategic Studies and Management (CGEE) in Brasilia.

He is currently working on water resources studies and on the preparation for Rio + 20. He is a former coordinator of the Unit to Combat Desertification in the Ministry of Environment of Brazil (from 2003 to 2010). He was one of the founders and was a Brazilian representative in the Ad Hoc Group to combat desertification, degradation of land and mitigation of the effects of drought of MERCOSUR and coordinated the drafting of the strategy of combating desertification and Soil degradation of MERCOSUR. He participated in the Inter-sessional lntergovenmental Working Group (UWG) as representative of Latin America and the Caribbean in elaborating the Decennial Plan of the UNCCD. He participated as well in the project New World Atlas on Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought, developed by the Joint Research Centre's Institute for Environment and Sustainability of the European Union, in response to interest expressed by the Committee of Science and Technology  CST/UNCCD.

Richard Thomas

Pak Sum Low is UKM-YSD Chair in Climate Change in the Faculty of Science and Technology, at University Kebangsaan in Malaysia (UKM) and he is Adjunct Professor at the School of Sustainable Development at Bond University in Australia.

He was an International Adviser for the Climate Change Adaptation Initiative project of the Mekong River Commission in Vientiane, Lao PDR (2010) and a member of the Expert Group on Technology Transfer of the UNFCCC (2010). He is Fellow of the Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre in Thailand since 2002 and is a member of the International Advisory Panel of the International Program on Climate Change and Variability Risk Reduction initiated by the Pacific Disaster Centre, Hawaii, since 2009. In addition, he was a member of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Group (STAG) for the Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in Vietnam in 2004; member of the UN/ISDR Ad Hoc Discussion Group on Drought; and member of the Expert Group on Environmentally Sound Technologies established by the UNEP International Environmental Technology Centre based in Osaka, Japan (2001-2002). He is a senior editor of a new online journal entitled Risk, Hazards and Crisis in Public Policy published by Policy Studies Organization. Since 2008 he has been a regular consultant for UNEP and UNDP, providing training on issues relating to climate change, including international negotiations. He was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Sciences Malaysia in April 2011.

Daniel Kimeu Mbuvi is officer for the national drought management authority in Kenya.

Daniel Kimeu Mbuvi holds a Master degree in Land and Water Management (Range Management Option) from the Cranfield Institute of Technology (UK, 1992). He has worked in development projects with communities in the drought prone Arid and Semi-arid lands of Kenya (since 1985). In the last 6 years, he has participated in various climate change activities organized by different agencies in Kenya and elsewhere (CCAA, IDRC, ICPAC, UNFCCC among others) including presenting papers on community adaptation to climate change in side events - during the 3rd GEF Assembly in Cape Town, South Africa (August 2006) and the UNFCCC conference in Nairobi, Kenya (November 2006).

Rodrigo Alejandro Morera Brito is Consultant for Poch Ambiental in Chile.

He has studied economics at the UPF in Barcelona and has a MSc in Environment and Development from KCL -University of London. He has worked as a consultant for the ECLAC and the Global Mechanism in a series of studies on the economic impact of land degradation and desertification in South America. He currently works for POCH Ambiental, a well-known Chilean environmental consulting firm, in economic valuation and environmental issues.

Antonia Corinthia Crisanta Navarro Naz is Consultant for Resources, Environment and Economics Center for Studies, Inc. in Philippines.

She currently serves as consultant for the Resources, Environment and Economics Center for Studies Inc. and as an on-call technical consultant for the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). Prior to her current appointment she was Asst. Professor at the graduate school of the University of the Philippines, teaching cost-benefit analysis and quantitative methods for policy analysis. She was a participant of courses and trainings on ENR economics and valuation methods and climate change, from the IDRC- Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia, from trainings of the World Bank and US-EPA, USAID, UNDP and AUSAID from 1994 onwards. She was involved in several R&D projects and studies as focal point-counterpart of the DENR and later on as consultant for various development projects for USAID, UNDP JICA and ADB among others.

Stacey Noel is SEI Africa Centre Director for the Stockholm Environment Institute in Tanzania.

She joined the Stockholm Environment Institute in June 2005 and was based at SEI York (UK) until August 2008, when she moved to SEI Africa Centre in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where she is the Centre Director. She has an MSc in Development Management from the London School of Economics and previously worked for the US State Department in Washington, DC and Hong Kong and for grassroots conservation NGO in Belize. Her main research topics are water and ecosystem services and their role in livelihoods, growth and poverty reduction.

Nathalie Olsen is Economist at IUCN in Switzerland.

She is a resource economist at IUCN. The focus of her work has been to encourage the use of ecosystem valuation to better inform decision-making in the private and public sectors. She also works more broadly on using economic analysis and tools, including market-based instruments, to make incentives more supportive of conservation and sustainable use. She manages the IUCN Carbon Fund and has some experience in environmental finance issues, particularly related to the voluntary carbon market and forest carbon projects with biodiversity benefits. Since joining IUCN she has increasingly worked with private companies to improve the environmental outcomes of economic decision-making and to increase resources available for biodiversity and ecosystem maintenance (through innovative financial mechanism, e.g. Payments for Ecosystem Services, biodiversity offsets, etc.). She is currently managing a research project financed by Rio Tinto Iron Ore looking at the value of ecosystem impacts of dewatering for iron ore extraction in arid and semi-arid environments (case study in Western Australia). The aim is to develop decision support tools for mining companies to better account for their ecosystem impacts in the context of dewatering.

Peijun Shi is the Executive Vice-President of Beijing Normal University.

He obtained his Ph. D degree of paleogeography at Beijing Normal University and had a postdoctoral experience at the College of Natural Resources, University of California in Berkeley, USA. He is the vice chairman of the Expert Committee of the National Disaster Reduction Commission of China. He is also a member of the OECD's High Level Advisory Board on Financial Management of Large-Scale Catastrophes. Peijun Shi research focuses on natural disaster theories and risk governance. He has been the principal investigator of many national and ministerial research programmes and has conducted numerous publications. Prof. Shi is co-chairing the Integrated Risk Governance (IRG) Core Science project under the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP), whose mission is to improve the governance of new risks that exceed current human coping capacities by focusing on the transitions in and out of the occurrence of relevant risks.

Lene Poulsen is an independent consultant at Karl International Development in Denmark.

Trained as an agricultural economist specializing in organizational development and with post-graduate studies in development economics, most of her 25-year career has been dedicated to improving the livelihoods of populations in disaster prone, fragile and dryland countries. Her assignments have covered 75+ countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean with organizations including the UN Secretariat, UNDP, FAO, WFP, UNCCD, OCHA, and UNDCP, UNICEF, the EC, bilateral agencies, IUCN, and INGOs. Her strong commitment to dryland development has been translated into a wide variety of initiatives, including strengthening the role of women and gender mainstreaming for the implementation of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification and Drought; global, regional, and national networking of NGOs for dryland development; disaster risk management, and dryland economics. These initiatives have always been developed in partnership with NGOs, national authorities, other UN agencies, and research institutions and have generated policy and operational documents and concrete implementation.

Olena Rakoid is Associate Professor at the National University of Life and Environmental Sciences of Ukraine.

She participated in the development of the first "National reports on implementation of UN Convention to Combat Desertification in Ukraine (2007) as well as to the project "Agriculture influences on GHG Emission in Ukraine" within the framework of the International Training Program "Climate Change - Mitigation and Adaptation" sponsored by SIDA (Sweden, 2008) . She participated in the development of "National reports on implementation of UN Convention to Combat Desertification in Ukraine (2010). She was technical expert for the development of a white paper for the refinement of the UNCCD set of impact indicators (2010-2011). Her recent scientific interests are on sustainable environmental management, especially related to agricultural land management and climate change mitigation and adaptation as well as monitoring of land degradation and desertification.

Mary Seely is associate and member of the Board of Trustees of both institutions: Desert Research Foundation of Namibia (DRFN) & Gobabeb Training and Research Centre in Namibia.

She has been director of the Gobabeb Centre from 1970 to 1998 and DRFN from 1990 to 2006 during which time she coordinated the implementation of Namibia's Programme to Combat Desertification (1994-2004). She has conducted research, with students and colleagues on costs and benefits of policies and practices addressing desertification, land degradation and drought. She was a member of the Drought Task Force team that established Namibia's Policy and Strategy on Drought. She served two terms on Namibia's National Planning Commission and currently on the Board of the Millennium Challenge Account.

Mariya Sokolovska is Head of Department "Soil Science" in the Forest Research Institute at Bulgarian Academy of Science.

Her main activities and responsibilities are the monitoring and reporting on land quality, affected areas and soil losses due to land degradation (soil contamination, acidification, erosion, land cover) and forest ecosystems, reading lectures and carrying out of practical seminars for assessment of forests and lands; climate change, drought, desertification, carbon and nitrogen fluxes in soil and forest ecosystems, biogeochemical circle of macro and trace-elements in soils and forest ecosystems. She participated to the preparation of the First and Second National Report relevant to UNCCD (2002, 2006). She was head of the sector working group for Combat Desertification under GEF project "Bulgarian National Capacity Self-Assessment (NCSA) for Improved Global Environmental Management" UNDP (2003-2004). She was member of the Group of Experts to Committee on Science and Technology in UN Convention to Combat Desertification (2002-2007). She was Chief Technical Advisor under GEF project "Capacity Building for Sustainable Land Management in Bulgaria" UNDP (2005-2008). She is member of International Steering Committee/Drought Management Centre for South Eastern Europe (DMCSEE) as well as member of National Steering Committee of the SGP to GEF-UNDP. She is as the Science and Technology Correspondent to the CST/UNCCD for Bulgaria.

Lindsay Stringer is Co-Director at the Sustainability Research Institute and reader in Environment and Development at the University of Leeds in UK.

Her research is interdisciplinary and advances understanding of human-environment relationships focusing on:

  1. The links between livelihoods and land use, particularly in drylands (including understanding the drivers, processes, trade-offs and outcomes within socio-ecological systems)
  2. Science, policy and environmental governance and the practical and policy mechanisms that can advance sustainable development.

She undertakes field data collection largely in Africa and Central and Eastern Europe and uses a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods. She regularly conducts consultancy work for the UNCCD and other UN bodies and agencies.

Heather Tallis is Lead Scientist for The Natural Capital Project at Stanford University.

Heather Tallis is leading several projects to apply InVEST and environmental services in locations around the world. She is currently working with The Nature Conservancy on water funds in Colombia and Ecuador. She has explored resource management options with Penan communities in Borneo, villagers in Cambodia, timber and aquaculture industries in Washington (USA) and a hydropower company in New Zealand. Her academic research has focused on the biological consequences of nutrient and carbon flows in the open ocean, coastal zone, rivers and forests. Tallis received her Ph.D. from the University of Washington and has won awards from Rotary International, the Ford Foundation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, among others.

Borut Vrščaj is a Scientific Counsellor at the Agricultural Institute of Slovenia

He is soil scientist, specialising in soil quality, soil properties, environmental modelling and spatial soil-environmental informatics. As scientific counsellor at the Agricultural Institute of Slovenia he is carrying out research on topics of field soil investigations (soil mapping and evaluation), land use and natural resource management, landscape ecology, soil environmental informatics and modelling and environmental GIS information systems. He is also teaching soil science, land use and soil protection at the University of Maribor and Environmental Protection College in Velenje. He regularly participates to international research projects within EU research programmes and is a member of international and national expert groups.

Grace Wong is Senior Technical Advisor for Poverty-Environment Initiative at UNDP Lao PDR in Laos.

Grace Wong is an environmental and natural resource economist with an interest in understanding trade‐offs between conservation and economic development goals, and the political economy of land use decision-making. She has worked in Malaysia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Australia and Suriname. Much of her work–on integrated spatial‐economic modeling approaches, use of scenario analysis for decision support tools and environmental-economic assessments–are oriented to generate evidence to help policymakers identify development options that can be sustainable for both biodiversity and livelihoods. Recent work has included valuation of ecosystem services in different land use systems to provide a holistic view of the costs and benefits from investment or development decisions in Lao PDR.  New research over 2012-2013 will build on this work to also consider local resilience to climate change and equity issues.

Xiaohui Yang is Chief scientist at the Institute of Desertification Studies at the Chinese Academy of Forestry in Beijing in China.

He is also deputy director of the Chinese institute of Green Carbon, director of the Department of Green Industry for the Beijing Forestry Society. He is head of expert team of the IUCN project "Forest landscape restoration and livelihood improvement in Miyun Reservoir, Beijing" and an expert of the Sino-German cooperation project "Forest plantation management in mountainous Beijing", and also an expert of FAO, UNDP and WWF.

Valentin Yatsukhna is Assistant Professor at the Belarusian State University in Belarus.

Prior to his appointment with Belarusian State University, Valentin Yatsukhno was senior researcher of the Landscape Ecology Lab. from 1981 to 1989 and an engineer and soil scientist of the Institute of Land Management design of Belarus from 1979 to 1981. He is science and technology correspondent to the CST of the UNCCD from Belarus. In 2002, 2006 and 2010 he was the leader of the group of experts on preparation of National Action Programme (NAP) to combat land degradation in Belarus aligned with UNCCD 10-years Strategy. As a group leader he carried out the following two UNDP/GEF projects: A "National Capacity Self-Assessment for Global Environmental Management" and the "Renaturalization and Sustainable Management of Peatlands in Belarus to Combat Land Degradation, Mitigation Climate Change and Ensure Conservation of Globally Valuable Biodiversity". He is the author of several books in the field of combat land degradation including monograph “Global environmental UN Conventions: experience of the implementation in the Republic of Belarus” (in Russian) and “Land degradation in Belarus: what the key issues are and how to address them” (in Russian and in English). Valentin Yatsukhno is member a several international and national environmental and nature resources scientific organizations.