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The UNCCD Science-Policy Interface (SPI) consists of globally selected independent scientists, regionally nominated independent scientists, policy makers (CST bureau members) and observers. For every term of the SPI the members are selected by the CST Bureau, following an open application process.

SPI members

Pablo Aurelio

Pablo Viegas AurelioPablo Viegas Aurelio is technical advisor for the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development of Argentina. He graduated in law and postgraduate in business and agribusiness law of the University of Buenos Aires (UBA). Since 2001 he has been working on the subject of soil degradation and the fight against desertification and national representative in the UNCCD. Was national coordinator from many projects supported by UN and national and international agencies related with sustainable land management. He also was UNCCD Focal Point and he has been contributing to technical activities of the National Directorate of Land Planning and Combat Desertification. He contributed to the formulation and aligned (AGENDA 2030) the Argentina National Strategy and Action Plan for Combating Desertification 2030. He is a teacher and collaborator in different undergraduate and graduate courses related to the subject. He has contributed to many publications relevant to the implementation of measures to combat desertification, such as “Revolving Funds, A Tool To Combat Desertification And Eradicate Poverty In Argentina”; Evaluation of Desertification in Argentina SAyDS / FAO, Land Degradation in Dry Areas and Identification of Sustainable Management Practices Recommended in Argentina SAyDS / FAO, Digital Newspaper of the NAP, among others. He was Focal Point of Mercosur on the subject since 2005 and Coordination of the decentralization process of the PAN and the installation of Provincial Programs to Combat Desertification; Technical collaboration for the project “The Assessment of land degradation in different climate change scenarios”.

Nichole Barger (SPI co-chair)

Nichole BargerNichole Barger is a Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado at Boulder in the United States. Barger received her Master’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley and holds a Ph.D. from Colorado State University. Barger works as an ecologist to support sustainable land management and restoration of a broad variety of ecosystems throughout the world. Barger was a coordinating lead author on the IPBES global land degradation and restoration assessment. She is also the Research Director of Canyonlands Research Center in southeastern Utah.  In her research program, Barger works in partnership with diverse governmental entities in the U.S. on land degradation and restoration issues such as the ecological risks of fire mitigation treatments, historical drivers and biogeochemical responses to woody plant encroachment, forest decline and regeneration, and more recently restoration of degraded dryland ecosystems with a specific focus on soil ecology. Barger also has extensive research experience working on conservation and management issues in dryland ecosystems across the globe. She has worked with international research teams in the semi-arid grasslands of Inner Mongolia and anthropogenic grassland ecosystems of Venezuela, in addition to work in southern Africa on plant invasions in the biodiversity hot spot of the Cape Floristic region of South Africa and vegetation dynamics of the Namib Desert of Namibia.  

Ermias Betemariam

Betemariam SPIErmias Betemariam is a land health scientist with research interest in land degradation, landscape ecology, restoration ecology, soil carbon dynamics and spatial sciences to understand land health constraints and targeting interventions to sustain ecosystem services. He worked as a watershed management expert in small and medium scale irrigation projects in Ethiopia. Ermias Betemariam served as a lecturer in Mekelle University, Ethiopia. Ermias Betemariam is currently working as land health scientist in the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) with major responsibilities of leading the land health surveillance work which involves developing land health measurement and monitoring protocols, lead research projects across Africa, resource mobilization and capacity development. He is also a focal point for the UNCCD at ICRAF. He has published more than thirty articles in peer reviewed journals mainly in areas of ecology, land use cover dynamics, land degradation and restoration. Ermias Betemariam holds a BSc. in Forestry (Alemaya University, Ethiopia); M.Sc. in Geoinformation sciences and Earth observation (ITC, Nethelands) and a Ph.D. in Ecology and Natural Resources (University of Bonn, Germany).

Xiangzheng Deng

Xiangzheng DengXiangzheng Deng is a distinguished professor of the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences (IGSNRR, CAS), the director of the Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy, CAS, and the executive deputy director of the Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, CAS. He is an interdisciplinary, problem-oriented sustainability scientist. Trained in Geographic Information System and Remote Sensing technologies, and environmental economics resources as well. He has focused on research on land degradation, resource utilization and ecological security, global change and development geography. He has authored/co-authored more than 200 peer reviewed journal articles and published nine books. As a principle investigator (PI) and co-PI, he was responsible for more than 30 national and international research projects. Moreover, he has intensive experience working with intergovernmental scientific panels. Currently, he is a member of the Urban Knowledge-Action Network, Future Earth Initiative. He was a member of the Urbanization and Global Environmental Change, IHDP from 2010 to 2017. He has worked for and coordinated the international collaborative research projects with research funding from National Science Foundation of US, NASA, NERC/ESRC of UK and CCICED. He has worked as a national reviewer of the IPCC reports and he is also the deputy editor and member of the editorial board of many well-known journals.

Karma Dema Dorji

Karma Dema DorjiKarma Dema Dorji serves as the Porgramme Director of the National Soil Services Centre in the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, Bhutan. She is responsible for looking after the overall functioning of the Centre which is mandated to look into the sustainable aspects of soil and land management in order to contribute to the important priorities of the country i.e. to achieve food security and protection of the country’s pristine environment. As the National Focal Point for UNCCD, Ms. Dorji oversees the fulfillment of the Convention’s requirements by the Centre, which include the development of the National Action Program to combat land degradation and the National Reporting. She served as the Annex II Chair (2015-2017), as the first Science and Policy (SPI) Team Member (2014-2017), as the IWG-FSF member (2015-2017), as a COP13 Bureau member (2016-2019) and currently as CST Bureau member (since COP 14). She is also the National Focal Point for the Asian Soil Partnership/Global Soil Partnership. She serves as a GEF Steering Committee member in the country (Since 2018). Ms. Dorji holds a Ph.D. in Natural Resources (Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg); a  Master of Philosophy (M.Phil) degree in Soil Sciences from the University of Reading, UK and a Bachelor’s degree (BSc. Hons.) in Agricultural Science from the University of Western Australia, Perth.

Marijana Kapović Solomun

Marijana Kapovic SolomunMarijana Kapović Solomun is associate professor and Vice Dean for Scientific Research at Faculty of Forestry, University of Banja Luka. Dr. Kapović Solomun is member of UNCCD Roster of experts, LDN national expert for Bosnia and Herzegovina and expert for Drought Management Plan of BIH. She is member of Council of Science of the Bosnia and Herzegovina and Member of Program Committee of Bosnia and Herzegovina in EU program Horizon 2020 for Programe Climate change, Environment, Efficiency of Resources and Raw Materials. Also, she is Alumna of JFDP programme of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of USA in area of Land degradation and conservation. Dr. Kapović Solomun has broad international and national experience in scientific projects, as leader or expert for soil, land degradation and forestry, who published significant number of scientific papers. She is Management Committee member of European Cooperation of science and Technology COST Actions CA18135 „Fire in the Earth System: Science & Society“, ES1306 “Connecting European connectivity research”; FP1304 “Towards robust projections of European forests under climate change” and CA16209 “Natural Flood Retention on Private Land“. Marijana Kapović Solomun is founder and President of Association for women’s empowerment and nature protection “Mother Nature”,  President of Board Members  “United States Alumni Association of Bosnia and Herzegovina”, and Vice President of “Association of Forestry  Engineers „EcoForest“.

Zahurul Karim

Karim SPIProfessor Zahurul Karim has a background in soil management and crop production. He conducted research work at the world famous Rothamsted Experimental Station and obtained Ph.D. from the University of Reading U.K. Currently he is working as an International Advisor for Food Policy Research Program of a World Bank supported modern food project in Bangladesh. He has served in many key positions including Secretary to the Government of Bangladesh, Executive Chairman of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC), Director General of Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) and Member-Director (Soils) of BARC. He has also worked for more than five years as Senior Advisor in Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Dr. Karim has experiences of working for more than 40 years as professor, researcher, research manager, senior public administrator & policy planner and national &international consultancy/advisors. His areas of specialization include management of degraded soils, climate change impact of food security and framing of public policies. He has 140 publications in peer reviewed journals, books and monographs. Dr. Karim is a fellow of many societies and leaned bodies including The World Academy of Sciences, New York Academy of Sciences, Member of the Pool of International Experts (PIE) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of the Netherlands. Currently he is chair of many professional bodies at home and abroad.

Rattan Lal

Rattan LalRattan Lal, Ph.D, is a Distinguished University Professor of Soil Science and Director of the Carbon Management and Sequestration Center at The Ohio State University, an Adjunct Professor of University of Iceland, and a visiting professor at PUCV, Chile. He has been awarded seven honorary doctorate degrees from Norway, Germany, Spain, Moldova, India, Chile, and the US. He has served as President of the World Association of Soil and Water Conservation (1987-1990), International Soil and Tillage Research Organization (1988-1991), Soil Science Society of America (2006-2008), and the International Union of Soil Sciences (2017-2018). His professional research interests include soil carbon sequestration for food and climate security, conservation agriculture, principles and practices of soil erosion control, eco-intensification of agroecosystems, soil restoration, and sustainable management of soils. He has authored 955 journal articles, authored/edited 98 books, and mentored 360 researchers from around the world. He has an h-index of 150 and cumulative citations of 101,811, and he is editor of both Advances in Soil Science and the Encyclopedia of Soil Science. He has worked on six continents, travelled to 105 countries, and made on average one keynote international presentation per month since 1980. He is  laureate of the 2018 GCHERA World Agriculture Prize (Nanjing, China), 2018 Glinka World Soil Prize (Rome, Italy), 2019 Japan Prize (Tokyo, Japan), and 2019 IFFCO Prize (New Delhi, India).

Armando López Santos

Armando Santos

Armando López Santos is a professor of the Autonomous Chapingo University with adscription in the Arid Land Faculty, located in Bermejillo, Durango, Mexico. He started off his career in this Institution more than 20 years ago and has been strenghthening linkages between teaching, research and stakeholders, for the improvement in living standard of dryland settlers. During his work as a professional consultant accredited by Mexican Federal Funds (FIRA-Mexico), he worked in the design and execution of rural projects. In the past five years he has been part of research projects related to the study of climate change and its local effects in northern and central Mexico. As a result of this, in 2014, he obtained the State Prize for Science, Technology and Innovation award by the Council of Science and Technology of the State of Durango. In this same year, he was recognized as National Researcher, level 1 (SNI-1) and refreshed in 2016 at the same level by the National Council of Science and Technology (CONACyT) of Mexico. Over the past few years, he has been part of the Main Academic Group of teaching in the Graduate Program (Master and Doctorate) in Natural Resources and Environmental of Arid Lands in the same University, and is currently at the Aguascalientes Autonomous University and plays a leading role in linking soil ersosion research issues with the Graduate Program.

Anna Luise

Anna Luise

Anna Luise, born in Naples, has been working in Rome since her university degree, at the University of Rome, at ENEA and finally at ISPRA – Institute for the Environmental Protection and Research (Italy’s environmental agency). Her interests began with the analysis of the creative organizations and new professions. In the late 80’s she directed her interests to the issues related to sustainable development at local, national and global level, the assessment of the environmental damage, the monitoring, evaluation and governance issues related to sustainability issues, land degradation and desertification, the analysis of policies and the development of indicators. In such areas, Anna Luise coordinated studies and research at national and international level and has been component of the group of technical and scientific support of the National Committee to Combat Desertification. Anna Luise played and continues to play a role of technical support in decision and policymaking processes as well as in the negotiation within the UNCCD. She participated as a speaker, panelist and chairperson in several national and international conferences and seminars. Anna Luise is a lecturer in master's and doctoral post-graduate programmes on desertification, climate change, sustainable development and a speaker in several sessions of the official organs of the UNCCD (COP, CRIC). She is also a member of Italy’s delegations to UN Conferences and negotiations on the field of environmental issues and sustainable development (i.e. UN HLPF). Anna Luise is Italy’s delegate in the European Council Working Party on International Environmental Issues - Desertification Experts. She was component of the UNCCD Intergovernmental Working Groups on the Future Strategic Framework (2013 – 2015), on the follow-up of Rio+20 (2013 – 2015) and on Reporting (2006 – 2009), and member of the Bureau of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention of the United Convention to Combat Desertification, representing WEOG/EU Parties. She is Italy’s Science and Technology Correspondent of the UNCCD.

Bongani Masuku (CST bureau chair and SPI co-chair)

Bongani Masuku

Bongani Simon Masuku is the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture of the Kingdom of Eswatini responsible for providing guidance, oversight and strategic direction to the staff of the ministry which is responsible for ensuring food security, poverty alleviation and improved contribution of the sector to economic growth.   He is also responsible for ensuring effective implementation of relevant policies and legislation governing operations of the agriculture sector and mobilizing resources for implementing programmes and projects of the ministry. Mr. Masuku has been the country‘s National Focal Point on the UNCCD for the past 15 years. He coordinated the drafting and implementation of the National Action Plan and was instrumental in the establishment of the country’s National Environment Fund. He has also participated in the drafting and review of the SADC Regional Action Plan for combatting desertification. He contributed to chapters related to land degradation and rehabilitation during the preparation of the State of Environment document for eSwatini. Additionally, he has also worked extensively in the design of community projects on land rehabilitation and the mobilization of community participation in their implementation.  Mr. Masuku holds a Master of Science degree in Pedology and Soil Survey from the University of Reading, a Bachelor of Science degree and a Diploma in Agriculture from the University of Eswatini. His major scientific contributions were on the study of gully erosion in the Kingdom of Eswatini. This was followed by work on strategic approaches to erosion control, with emphasis on conservation with production. He has developed land use plans for several community areas incorporating the concept of conservation with production.

Ravindranath Nijavalli

Nijavalli RavindranathDr. Ravindranath retired as a Professor from Centre for Sustainable Technologies of Indian Institute, Bangalore. His major areas of research and policy advocacy include; Climate Change, Forests, Bioenergy and Ecosystem Services. He has focused his research on various dimensions of Climate Change; Mitigation Assessment in land use sectors, Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory in Land Use Sectors, Impact of Climate Change and Vulnerability Assessment in Forests and Agro-ecosystems, Adaptation and Climate Resilience, and Forest Ecology. He has also worked on Bioenergy, Biofuels and Biomass Production and Ecosystem Services. He has been an author for all reports of IPCC on mitigation of climate change in land use sectors, since the Second Assessment Report of IPCC. He is also an author for all recent reports of IPCC on Greenhouse Gas Inventory Guidelines. He has been an author for two report of IPBES. He was a member of STAP of GEF (on climate change) and SAP (Scientific Advisory Panel) of UNEP for Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-6). He is an expert for UNFCCC for GHG (Greenhouse Gas) inventory review process. He has published extensively on climate change, bioenergy and forest ecology. He has published 8 books (from Oxford and Cambridge Uni. Press, Kluwer, and Springer Publishers) out of which 4 are on Climate Change. He has published nearly 150 peer reviewed research papers, out of which about 60 are on Climate Change.

Noel Oettle (CSO representative)

Noel OettleNoel Oettlé is a Senior Advisor with the Environmental Monitoring Group (EMG). He holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Agricultural Development from the University of London. Prior to joining EMG in 1998, he served as Director of the Farmer Support Group at the University of KwaZulu Natal. His work focuses on enabling marginalised land-users to enhance their livelihoods by enhancing the sustainable use of natural resources with the support of scientific researchers, institutional development and improved market access. This includes providing support to organic certified 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. He is currently implementing the knowledge-sharing and capacity development component of the GEF-funded AVACLIM agroecology project.

André Francisco Pilon

Pilon SPIAndré Francisco Pilon held different positions: Associate Professor (University of São Paulo); Psychologist (State Court of Justice); Director (Health Education, Ministry of Health); Journalist (Editor-in-chief, Journal Academus; Collaborator, Journal da USP); His affiliations include the International Academy of Science, Health & Ecology, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (Science-Policy Interface), the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, the IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy, the EuroScience; the World Alliance for Citizen Participation; the International Association for the Study of the Commons; the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature; the Center for Healthy Cities. He is the author of a theoretical and practical ecosystem approach for planning and evaluation of public policies, advocacy, communication, research and teaching programmes, encompassing environmental problems, public health, quality of life, and the links to the educational, cultural, political and economic state of the world. His proposal for change considers different dimensions of being-in-the-world (intimate, interactive, social and biophysical), as they combine to elicit the events, suffer the consequences and organize for change. Instead of the effects (reduced, fragmented, taken for granted issues), his proposal emphasizes the general phenomenon, the core of the “boiling pot”, where the problems that menace survival on Earth emerge and where they should be dealt with, in view of the shifting of the current paradigms of growth, power, wealth, work and freedom embedded into the educational, cultural, social, political and economic institutions. 

Ratko Ristić  

Ratko RisticProf. Dr. Ratko Ristić is a full professor and Dean of the University of Belgrade - Faculty of Forestry. He is engaged in doctoral, master and undergraduate study levels at the Department for Ecological Engineering in the Protection of Soil and Water Resources - Chair of Erosion and Torrent Control. So far, he has published over 130 research papers dealing with erosion and torrent control, land degradation, hydrology, watershed management, landscape restoration and natural disasters prevention. He worked as a responsible engineer or associate engineer in the implementation of 73 main projects and 70 other projects (conceptual projects, feasibility studies, environmental impact assessment studies, elaborates). These projects resulted in the construction of a total of 56 facilities, of which he managed 17. He was the leader of erosion control and stream restoration projects in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Greece. He is a member of IAHS (International Association of Hydrological Sciences) and WASWC (World Association for Soil and Water Conservation). From 2011 to 2017 he was a member of the Supervisory Board of the Innovation Fund of Serbia. In 2017, he was appointed representative of Serbia in the UNCCD (United Nation Convention Combat Desertification), Committee on Science and Technology. 

Mark Svoboda

Svodoba SPIAs the NDMC’s Director, Svoboda administers and oversees the center’s staff and mission, which involves the research, operational, planning and education/outreach programs of the NDMC and NOAA’s Drought Risk Management Research Center. Mark works closely with federal, tribal, state, basin, local and international officials and governments on drought monitoring early warning information systems, drought risk management planning and collaborative research. He provides expertise on a wide range of climate-water management issues and is responsible for assessing user product needs and responding to information and decision support requests. Svoboda is involved with drought monitoring, assessment and prediction committees and activities at the state, regional, tribal, national and international levels. Mark Svoboda is the co-founder (1999), and served for 17 years as one of the principal authors of the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor ( His work with the Core Team of the Western Governors’ Association led to the development of a report and recommendations on creating a National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) for the United States, which was authorized by Congress into public law in 2006. Mark Svoboda is a member of the World Meteorological Organization/Global Water Partnership Integrated Drought Management Programme’s Advisory Panel and currently serves on the NIDIS Executive Council. 

Peter Verburg

Verburg SPIPeter Verburg is a professor in Environmental Geography at the Institute for Environmental Studies at VU University Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He is also a visiting professor at the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape research (WSL). He has established an internationally recognized leading position in the field of land system science. He has developed and applied a large portfolio of methods to analyze spatial patterns of land use and socio-ecological interactions at scales from local to global. Methods originate from different disciplines, including social sciences, econometrics, geography and earth sciences (biogeochemical modelling). Having worked with collaborators from this wide variety of fields, Peter has established insight in the different disciplinary traditions and vocabularies for interdisciplinary collaboration. His work on regional-scale land use modeling has resulted in one of the most frequently used land use models worldwide (CLUE-s). Recent activities focus on spatial modelling support for implementation of Land Degradation Neutrality. Land Governance and the analysis of Food Systems. Peter is co-editor-in-chief of the journal Landscape and Urban Planning and a commissioner of the Earth Commission of the Global Commons Alliance.

Sergio Vicente-Serrano

Sergio Vicente-SerranoSergio M. Vicente-Serrano is Scientific Researcher at the Pyrenean Institute of Ecology, a Research Centre of the Spanish National Research Council based in Zaragoza (Spain). Main activity of Sergio is the scientific research on different topics related to global change, including the study of landscape and vegetation changes in the Mediterranean region and different hydrological and climatic processes analysed on different spatial and temporal scales. Specifically, he has studied the influence of atmospheric circulation mechanisms on water resources availability, the assessment of climate change from an observational point of view, and the study of droughts from different perspectives, including the development of drought indices to improve the quantification of this complex phenomenon, and the assessment of drought impacts on environments and water resources. Sergio has coordinated different research projects at the European level and, in collaboration with stakeholders and water managers, participated in projects of adaptation to the climate change in different regions of Spain. He has published more than 300 scientific documents, including more than 200 articles in international journals of the fields of water resources, atmospheric sciences, remote sensing, etc. He has also developed different climate services and products, including a drought monitoring system with global coverage ( Currently Sergio is working as lead author for the sixth assessment report of the IPCC.

Graham von Maltitz

Maltitz, SPI

Graham von Maltitz is a fellow of the Global Change Biology Group, Department of Botany and Zoology. Stellenbosch University, South Africa, and has over   30 years of experience in policy orientated environmental research. He trained as a systems ecologist, and rural development specialist, with a focus on the coupled socio-ecological aspects of savanna and grassland regions of southern Africa.  He has a specific research interest in areas of communal land tenure and on the unique problems associated with resource management in these areas, especially as they are impacted by global change. This has focused extensively on what is often termed community based natural resource management (CBNRM), where sustainability of the resource can be used to support energy provision, local livelihoods, tourism, or downstream and global benefits. Identifying drivers of sustainability has underpinned this research which has been used to better understand land use planning and sustainable land management. He has a long term research interest in desertification and degradation, having been linked to both national and international initiatives and policy development, including being a coordinator of South Africa's initial National Action Program (NAP) on Desertification, and a Coordinating Lead Author of the IPBES Land Degradation and Restoration Assessment. 

Ana Vuković

VukovicAna Vuković is Assistant Professor at Faculty of Agriculture, University of Belgrade, Serbia, part time employed at Faculty of Forestry, and received all levels of her education at Department of Meteorology, Faculty of Physics. She teaches courses on meteorology, climatology and climate change. Her main expertise is related to numerical modeling of atmospheric processes and their interaction with land surface, including airborne dust transport. As external science associate she is engaged in the activities of WMO Sand and Dust Storm Warning Advisory and Assessment System. In the recently initiated COST action (InDust), related to the airborne dust transport and strengthening interconnection between data providers and end users, she is the leader of the working group responsible for dust modeling. Her professional interest is mainly focused on the development of high-resolution forecasts, which comprehend local risk problems and weather extremes. Her other research activities and expert engagements are related to implementation of high-resolution climate change modeling and risk assessment in sectors of economy and environment protection. 

SPI observers

Robert Stefanski (WMO)

Stefanski SPIRobert Stefanski is currently Chief of the WMO Agricultural Meteorology Division of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in Geneva, Switzerland. His duties include developing the scientific and technical aspects of this division and providing technical and scientific support to the WMO Commission for Agricultural Meteorology. He is also the Head of the Technical Support Unit of the Integrated Drought Management Programme which works with countries in developing drought early warning systems and national drought policies. From 2005 to 2010, he was the Scientific Officer in the same Programme at WMO. From 1991 to 2004, he was an agricultural meteorologist for the United States Department of Agriculture where he monitored worldwide weather and climate conditions and how they impacted global agricultural production. He has a Master’s Degree in Agricultural Climatology from Iowa State University (1988) and B.S. in Agricultural Meteorology from Purdue University (1986). 

Katrin Ehlert (WMO alternate)

Kathrin EhlertKatrin Ehlert is an environmental scientist and currently a Junior Professional Officer at the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in Geneva. She holds a diploma in Geoecology from TU Braunschweig and a Phd in soil chemistry from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich(ETHZ). She has more than 8 years research and consultancy experience in the field of soil protection in the context of agricultural usages,  soil and water quality assessments and environmental impact studies.  At WMO she works on agricultural meteorology related topics to support national meteorological and hydrological services  and provides technical and scientific support to the WMO Service Commission’s Standing Committee on Agriculture. In addition, she is WMO focal point for contributions to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) agenda and to the Global Framework on Climate Smart Agriculture (GACSA). Katrin is part of the Integrated Drought Management Programme (IDMP) technical support unit ( The IDMP is a WMO and Global Water Partnership led programme which, together with a wide range of partners such as FAO, UNCCD, UNDRR and UNDP, supports stakeholders globally and on all levels to develop drought early warning systems and drought policies.

Everlyne Nairesiae (UN-Habitat)

Everlynie Nairesiae

She is a social scientist, with over 17 years of experience working on gender, land and natural resource governance at policy and practice; strategic planning; research; program monitoring and evaluation at national, regional and internal level. She is the Coordinator of the Global Land Indicators Initiative (GLII) at the Global Land Tool Network (GLTN); Land, Housing and Shelter Section in UN-Habitat. GLII is a global multi-stakeholders’ platform for coordination and development of globally comparable indicators, methodologies and tools for data collection, monitoring and reporting on land governance issues including the SDGs, New Urban Agenda among other global and regional commitments and obligations, and impact evaluation.  She is also the Gender Lead for Land and GLTN. She is known for her contribution in coordinating and facilitating global networks, development of global methodologies and tools for  land governance  including monitoring of land in the SDGs and impact evaluation; research and analytical frameworks and strategies for mainstreaming gender in natural resource governance and management; and capacity development for governments, CSOs and other actors. She has written several papers and articles that underscore the link between land tenure, gender and land degradation neutrality, land governance monitoring and sustainable development. She previously worked as Women’s Land Rights Adviser at Oxfam International; Senior Regional Program Coordinator for Relief, Development and Protection at Church World Service in Africa; Head of Programs and Deputy Director at GROOTS Kenya, and consulted for other development and humanitarian agencies such as Huairou Commission, FEMNET,  African Development Bank, NORAD and American Jewish World Service. Everlyne holds a Master of Philosophy in Guidance and Counselling, and bachelor’s degree in Geography and Kiswahili from Moi University, Eldoret in Kenya. 

Robert Lewis-Lettington (UN-Habitat alternate)

Robert Lewis-LettingtonRobert Lewis-Lettington is Chief of the Land, Housing and Shelter Section at UN-Habitat. Robert has more than twenty years professional experience, primarily working in programme management, multilateral processes and in providing technical assistance in policy formulation and legislative processes to a variety of partners. With field experience in more than seventy countries, Robert’s specialist areas include land management, human rights and rule of law, urban development, legislative drafting, intellectual property rights and information management, digital governance, environment and natural resources and international trade. Robert is Secretary to the Drafting Committee of the UN Habitat Assembly and its subsidiary bodies and was Vice Chair of the International Telecommunication Union’s Focus Group on ‘Data Processing and Management to support the Internet of Things and Smart Cities & Communities.’ Robert is also a Salzburg Global Fellow in Law and Technology, a member of the International Law Association (and its study group on the Role of Cities in International Law) and a member of the Human Rights Lawyers Association (UK). Robert holds a Juris Doctor degree in law from the College of William and Mary (USA), an MA (Hons) degree specialising in Architectural History from the University of St. Andrews (Scotland) and an MLitt (Dist) degree in History specialising in  from the University of the Highlands and Islands (Scotland).

Adam Fysh (UNDRR)

Vera Boerger (FAO)

Early Career Scientist Fellows

Felicia O. Akinyemi

Felicia O. AkinyemiFelicia O. Akinyemi is a land system change and ecological remote sensing researcher based in the Land System and Sustainable Land Management research unit of the Institute of Geography, University of Bern, Switzerland. A certified Geographic Information System professional (GISP), she has expertise and experience in spatially-explicit modelling of land use patterns and trends), land degradation and land change accounting framework. Working with mixed methods combining quantitative (e.g. satellite Remote Sensing time series), qualitative (e.g., land actor/stakeholder survey), and spatial analysis in Geographic Information System, her work relates to three interrelated themes: historical and future (projected) land system change, land degradation, incl. the United Nations Land Degradation Neutrality sustainability target and modelling food systems behaviour under changing land-use conditions.

Helene Wanjuri Gichenje

Helene Wanjuri GichenjeHelene Gichenje is an environment and sustainable development project manager with more than 15 years of experience in different development contexts (global, Afghanistan, Sub-Saharan Africa).  She has worked primarily with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and has extensive experience in providing management, technical and policy direction to a broad range of environmental (climate change, green economy, environmental mainstreaming, environmental legislation procedures and processes, renewable energy) and sustainable development (rural livelihoods, humanitarian assistance, agriculture development) initiatives.  Helene recently completed doctorate studies focused on the operationalization of the land degradation neutrality (LDN) target of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and has a passion for the use of geospatial data for environmental applications using open-source tools and platforms such as R, QGIS, and Google Earth.  Helene holds a PhD in Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (Universidade de Évora, Portugal); MBA and MSc in Agricultural Economics (McGill University, Canada); and BSc in Agriculture (University of Nairobi).