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.

Mohamed Bakarr (PhD) is Senior Environmental Scientist responsible for coordinating the Land Degradation Focal Area in the Global Environment Facility, which directly supports implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) by affected country parties. His professional expertise includes integrated natural resource management, agroforestry land use, biodiversity conservation, and ecosystem restoration. Although focused mainly on sub-Sahara Africa, he has experience from several countries in Southeast Asia and Latin America. This was strongly enhanced during nearly seven years at Conservation International where he served in several capacities, and four years at the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) in Nairobi, Kenya where he served as Director of Strategic Initiatives and Assistant Director General. Mohamed is a native of Sierra Leone, and holds a MS and PhD in Tropical Ecology from the University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida.

Edward B. Barbier is the John S Bugas Professor of Economics, Department of Economics and Finance, University of Wyoming. His main expertise is natural resource and development economics as well as the interface between economics and ecology. He has served as a consultant and policy analyst for a variety of national, international and non-governmental agencies, including many UN organizations, the OECD and the World Bank. Professor Barbier is on the editorial boards of several leading economics and natural science journals, and he appears in the 4th edition of Who’s Who in Economics.  He has authored over 200 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, written or edited 21 books, and published in popular journals. His books include Blueprint for a Green Economy (with David Pearce and Anil Markandya, 1989), Natural Resources and Economic Development (2005), A Global Green New Deal (2010), Scarcity and Frontiers: How Economies Have Developed Through Natural Resource Exploitation (2011), Capitalizing on Nature: Ecosystems as Natural Assets (2011) and A New Blueprint for a Green Economy (with Anil Markandya, 2012).

Hannah Behrendt is a Program Economist for the World Bank’s WAVES Global Partnership Washington, DC, USA. Working on natural capital accounting, at the nexus between climate change and sustainable development, Hannah took a leading role in the World Bank’s ‘50:50’ campaign at Rio+20, which brought together the public and private sectors to advance the implementation of natural capital accounting on a global scale. She has since coordinated the World Bank’s private sector engagement on natural capital and ecosystem valuation. Her work has also focused on climate change and sustainable energy, including research at Oxford University’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment. Hannah holds a MPhil in Economics and a BA (Hons) in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from the University of Oxford.

Maria Laura Corso is a specialist in remote sensing and GIS for natural resources evaluations. She teaches at the Department of Management and Soil Conservation, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Buenos Aires. Maria Laura Corso is Technical Adviser to the Department of Land Conservation and Desertification of the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development of Argentina, the Technical Project Coordinator for  Land Degradation Assessment in Drylands  (LADA) and representative of the Presidency of the National Observatory of Desertification and Land Degradation. Furthermore, she  is the Country Representative from Argentina for the CST of the UNCCD.  Maria Laura Corso has a degree in Agricultural Economics and Management at the University of Buenos Aires.

Jonathan Davies is the Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee. He is the Coordinator of the Global Drylands Initiative at IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).

Jonathan Davies is the coordinator of the Global Drylands Initiative within IUCN's Ecosystem Management Program. He has a background in tropical agriculture, sustainable development and economic anthropology. He has worked in developing countries since 1995, with more than half of this time spent in Eastern Africa. He worked initially in the field of humanitarian emergencies and later in sustainable development and conservation, establishing IUCN's drylands program and also the World Initiative for Sustainable Pastoralism. He has published work in the fields of sustainable pastoralism, ecosystem economics, rangeland ecology, climate change resilience and linking policy and practice.

Dennis Garrity (PhD) was ICRAF director general between 2001 and 2011. Previously Dr Garrity was the regional coordinator of our Southeast Asia Programme, based in Bogor, Indonesia. He led systems improvement research in the humid tropics of the region to develop and evaluate agroforestry alternatives to slash-and-burn agriculture, and conducted research on the development of conservation-oriented agroforestry systems for sloping uplands. He has been active in the development of institutional innovations related to farmer-led organizations in sustainable agriculture and natural resources management.

H.E. Tarja Halonen, former President of the Republic of Finland (2000 – 2012).

Prior to her presidency, she served as a member of parliament for 21 years.

During her political career, President Halonen was appointed to several ministries and served as Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister of Justice and Minister of Social Affairs. Early in her career, President Halonen worked as a trade unionist and was a lawyer with the Central Organization of Finnish Trade Unions between the years 1970 and 1979.

President Halonen is known for her commitment to poverty eradication, sustainability and human rights. To these ends she has served in various capacities. She served as the co-chair of ILO's World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization, co-chair of the Panel of Eminent Persons of UNCTAD (the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) and co-chair of the UN High-level Panel on Global Sustainability. Currently she is co-chair of the High-Level Task Force for the International Conference on Population and Development. She holds a Master of Laws from Helsinki University.

Professor Pak Sum LOW is the UKM-Yayasan Sime Darby Chair in Climate Change at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM). He is also a Senior Visiting Professor at the UNEP International Ecosystems Management Partnership (IEMP) hosted by the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing; and an Adjunct Professor at the School of Sustainable Development, Bond University, Australia.  He has previously worked in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-Vietnam (International Expert, Natural Disaster Mitigation Partnership Secretariat, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, 2008); United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) (2001-2007); United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) (1991-1999); Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia, UK (1988-1991); Institute of Applied Physical Chemistry (1987-1988) and the Institute for Atmospheric Chemistry (1986-1987) of the Nuclear Research Centre, Jülich, Germany.
Professor Low has also worked as a consultant for the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Secretariat (2000, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat (1999 and 2000). He was a facilitator for the e-discussion on Climate Change and Human Development for the UNDP Asia-Pacific Human Development Network (2010). He was also 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 has been a Fellow of the Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre in Thailand since 2002; and a member of International Advisory Panel of the International Programme on Climate Change and Variability Risk Reduction initiated by the Pacific Disaster Centre, Hawaii, since 2009.
Professor Low has edited a book, Climate Change and Africa (Cambridge University Press, 2005). He is currently editing another book, Sustainable Development: Asia-Pacific Perspectives (Cambridge University Press).  
Professor Low is a Fellow of Academy of Sciences Malaysia.

H. E. Ambassador Mahboub Maalim is the current Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Headquartered in Djibouti. He is a Water Resources Engineer by profession and has worked as a civil servant at different levels with the Government Kenya, starting as a District Officer and raising up up to a position of the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Water Resources. In June 2008, the Heads of State and Government nominated him as the Executive Secretary of IGAD. Ambassador Maalim is steering IGAD from strength to strength and currently, the Authority, is engaged in the coordination of the development and implementation of a regional drought resilience initiative to end drought emergencies in the Horn of Africa based on the IGAD/EAC Summit Decision of 2010/2011. Under his leadership IGAD-Secretariat elaborated a Regional Drought Disaster Resilience and Sustainability Strategy and established a Regional Platform, where the seven Member States, committed development partners and non-state actors coordinate their efforts to address the underlying causes of vulnerability and drought disasters in the Horn of Africa. Through the formulation of a Regional Programming Paper based on the priorities identified by common Country Programming Papers for drought resilience in each of the Member States, a new regional approach and architecture for ending drought emergencies and to sustainable development in arid and semi-arid Lands (ASAL) is emerging in the Horn of Africa.

Elizabeth Migongo-Bake has a PhD in Natural resource management with a specialisation in terrestrial ecology; An MSc in Conservation Biology and a BSc in Terrestrial Ecosystems Management.
She has over 20 years professional working experience in land management issues with the UNEP and previously worked with the GCIAR on Livestock and Agroforestry sectors.

Her area of work at UNEP over the last 20 years has focused on developing and contributing to strategic and visionary global policy for enhancing integrated and sustainable natural resources management. She has contributed to related high level regional science-policy interventions issues in Africa, West Asia, Asia Pacific and Latin America and the Caribbean especially in the thematic areas of water management, renewable energy, soil water conservation, biodiversity conservation and protection and forestry. She has also contributed over this period to production of scientific data and information that have enhanced UNEP’s work on science-policy interface such as the implementation of Bali Strategic Plan on Technology Transfer and Capacity Building and more recently UNEP’s work on Climate Change, Ecosystems Management Approach programmes and the Green Economy.

Dr. Elizabeth Migongo-Bake is currently Task Manager, Drylands Ecosystem, for United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) based its HQ in Nairobi, Kenya.  She is also a member of UNCCD’s ad hoc Advisory Group of Technical Experts (AGTE) for Impact Indicators Refinement. She is also represents UNEP on the Issue Management Group (IMG) on Land under UN’s Environment Management Group (EMG) for the production of the UN system-wide Global Drylands Response report (2011) with UNCCD, and for developing an Action Plan (on-going) for implementing its recommendations.

César Morales Estupiñán is an agronomist engineer specialized in Agricultural Economics at the University of Chile.

Currently he is the Coordinator of Regional Project (GM/ECLAC) about "the economic value of desertification/land degradation in Latin American Countries considering Climate Change scenarios". From 1988 to 2005 he was the coordinator of Regional Project ECLAC / GTZ "Indicators of socio-economic impact of desertification and land degradation" in Argentina, Brazil and Chile, later extended to Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru. The project main product was to construct an information system of indicators of socio-economic impacts of desertification and land degradation to facilitate decision making to the economic and political authorities. He is a professor in the Master Program in Rural Development Academy of Christian Humanism University and Agricultural Research Group (GIA) in Chile, in the Master of Latin American economic development at the International University of Andaluci­a, La Rabida and in the Master of Rural Development at the National University of Costa Rica.

Ephraim Nkonya (PhD) is a senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington D.C. Ephraim pursued his graduate studies in agricultural economics at Kansas State University from 1992-1999 after which he joined IFPRI in 1999. Ephraim leads an IFPRI program on land resources for poverty reduction. His regions of expertise are sub-Saharan Africa and central Asia. Ephraim also conducts global and regional level analyses related to natural resource and poverty. He is currently a major collaborator in a global study on the economics of land degradation and how institutions and other socio-economic environment play part in sustainable land management and poverty reduction. He is also conducting studies on the best land management practices that could be used for climate change adaptation. Ephraim has published six books, five book chapters and 26 referred journals on issues related to natural resource management and poverty reduction.
Ephraim is a true east African, with Tanzanian citizenship and ancestral heritage from Kenya and Uganda. He grew up on a small farm in northern Tanzania, a setting that inspired and shaped his academic and career development.

Noel Oettlé serves as Rural Programme Manager for the Environmental Monitoring Group and Managing Director for Avontuur Sustainable Agriculture. He serves on the Boards of the Fairtrade Labelling Organisation and Fairtrade Africa, the Steering Committees of the South African Adaptation Network and the Greater Cederberg Biodiversity Corridor, and on the Regional Council of ICCO. Noel is based in the village of Nieuwoudtville in the Northern Cape. He attended university in Cape Town, and holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Agricultural Development from the University of London. His work focuses on facilitating learning processes to enable marginalised rural people to improve the quality of their lives by enhancing their livelihoods through the sustainable use of natural resources, local institutional development and improved market access. This includes providing support to small-scale producers to conserve biodiversity in their production systems, adapt their land use practices to climatic variability, establish co-operatives and enter global markets with organic and Fairtrade certified products.

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.

Chris Reij is a Sustainable Land Management specialist of the Centre for International Cooperation, Free University Amsterdam and a Senior Fellow of the World Resources Institute in Washington.

He works in the Sahel since 1978 and is currently facilitator of “African Re-greening Initiatives”, which supports farmers to adapt to climate change and to develop more productive and drought-resilient farming systems (www.africa-regreening.blogspot.com). The approach of this initiative is to scale up the growing number of  agroforestry successes in drylands. Chris has co-authored several publications about farmer innovation in African agriculture, successes in African agriculture and land management and about the transformation of agriculture and environment in the Sahel. 

Christina Seeberg-Elverfeldt has an academic background in natural resources and agricultural economics and holds a PhD in Carbon payments for smallholder agroforestry systems. She has extensive work experience across Latin America, Africa and Asia, where she been engaged in natural resource management, sustainable land management and climate change issues. At the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) her tasks focused on climate change and specifically climate-smart agriculture. She currently works at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) within the rural development, agriculture and food security division and is in charge of desertification, sustainable agriculture and international agricultural research.

Michael Stocking (Professor) specialises in the natural and social science aspects of soil conservation, agricultural biodiversity, land degradation and sustainable land management.  In 2008, the University of East Anglia (UEA, Norwich, UK) awarded him 'Emeritus Professor' in recognition of 30 years teaching in the School of International Development, including 6 years as Head of School. He continues as a Professorial Fellow and tutor in the School, mainly supervising research students. He also works for the International Development Company (DEVCo) on a number of projects for various agencies, including the United Nations Development Programme (New York), the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (Bonn) and the Swiss National Science Foundation (Bern). For the Global Environment Facility, he has been Vice-Chair, panel member and Senior Advisor to the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP, Washington DC), responsible for both operational and strategic aspects of the land degradation focal area. He has current particular responsibility for multi-focal projects (across biodiversity, climate change and land degradation), including developing a new strategy.

Lindsay Stringer is the Director of the Sustainability Research Institute and a Reader in Environment and Development at the University of Leeds in the UK. She has published more than 50 international journal papers, including many on the UNCCD and sustainable land management. Lindsay's 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.

Lindsay works largely in Africa and uses a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods. She regularly conducts consultancy work for the UNCCD and other UN bodies and agencies, and is an advisory board member of DesertNet International, as well as a member of the OSLO consortium.


François Tapsoba (PhD) is the FAO Chief Technical Advisor to the African Union Commission in charge of the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative (GGWSSI) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Dr. François Tapsoba began his career as a Lecturer at the Faculty of Economics and Management, University of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. In advance to his comittment to the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel initiative he was Head of Division of Natural Resource Management at the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS) and Regional Advisor of the Global Mechanism of the UNCCD for West and Central Africa region.

Holding a PhD in Economics from the Université Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg, France he is a Specialist in Natural Resources Management with over 29 years professional experience including 18 years in the field of Natural Resource Management and Desertification Control.

Anneke Trux is head of the GIZ Sector Project ‘Convention Project to Combat Desertification’. She holds a PhD in biology from the University of Bonn. She started her professional career working on natural resources and climate change with the German Parliament’s Enquête Commission on Climate Change. Her work for GIZ has focussed on natural resources management and governance of international environmental regimes and, more recently, has returned to climate-change issues with a focus on drylands. She has working experience in Sub-Saharan Africa, Northern Africa, Central Asia and Latin America.

Joachim von Braun is Director of the Center for Development Research (ZEF), and Professor for Economic and Technological Change at the University of Bonn in Germany.

His research addresses international development economics topics, economics of natural resources, poverty, science and technology, food policy, and trade. He was Director General of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) based in Washington, DC (USA) from 2002 to 2009. From 2000 to 2003, he was President of the International Association of Agricultural Economists (IAAE). He is member of the German National Academy of Science and Engineering and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences.

Richard Thomas is the Assistant Director at the United Nations University –Institute for Water, Environment and Health based at McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada where he leads the Drylands Threatened Ecosystem program.

He was formerly Director of the Natural Resources Management Programme at the International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA) and was a member of the CGIAR’s Task Force on Integrated Natural Resources Management from 1998-2007. He spent 12 years at theInternationalCenterfor Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) inColombia. He is a graduate of theUniversityofWales,U.K.where he received his B.Sc. and Ph.D. in botany and microbiology. His broad research interests include integrated soil, water and nutrient management in crop-livestock systems in Latin America, Africa, West andCentral Asia. In 2001 his research team at CIAT received the CGIAR’s Excellence in Science Award for Outstanding Partnership. He has published 100 refereed journal articles, written 41 book chapters, co-edited 4 books and 26 other articles of general interest. Currently he acts as scientific coordinator for the Economics of Land Degradation Initiative.