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Members of the Science-Policy Interface

Image removed.Elena María Abraham 

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


Image removed.Mariam Akhtar-Schuster 

Mariam Akhtar-Schuster is senior scientific advisor at the Project Management Agency PT-DLR, Berlin, Germany. A Geographer, Dr. Akhtar-Schuster holds a PhD from the Faculty of Mathematics and Sciences, University of Goettingen, Germany. Since 1988, she conducted extensive field research on desertification/land degradation and drought in northeast and southern Africa. Key expertise includes morphodynamics and biodiversity in semiarid/arid regions; land use systems; special emphasis on mobile animal husbandry; science-policy communication on DLDD (Co-founder of the international independent scientific networks on desertification in 2006). From 2010 to 2012, she was chair of DesertNet International. She was member of the Steering Committee of the Dryland Science for Development Consortium (DSD) that organized UNCCD´s 1st scientific conference (2008-2009) and Chair of UNCCD´s Ad hoc working group to further discuss the options for the provision of Scientific Advice focusing on desertification/land degradation and drought issues (AGSA) (2012-2013). Since 2013, she is member of the Scientific Advisory Committee in preparation of UNCCD´s 3rd scientific conference. Publications and contributions

Image removed.Martial Bernoux 

​Martial Bernoux is a soil scientist at the French Research Institute for the Development (IRD) within Research Unit Eco&Sols, being co-responsible of the team “Carbon and Global Changes”. Member of the French Scientific Committee on Desertification (CSFD), he has particular interest in the evaluation of the role of soils in agro-ecosystems, in the global change context, focusing on soil carbon temporal and spatial dynamics from local to national scales, mainly in inter-tropical and Mediterranean regions. He also contributed to IPCC meetings and publications such as the IPCC Good Practice Guidance for LULUCF (2003). He is also acting, as FAO consultant for the development of the EX-Ante Carbon-balance tool (EX-ACT) to provide ex-ante estimates of the mitigation impact of rural development projects in order to put forward synergies between food security, soils and land conservation and climate policies. Author of more than two hundred scientific papers and book chapters.

Image removed.Foued Chehat 

​Foued Chehat is Director of the National Institute of Agronomic Research of Algeria (INRAA) since 2010. He is also National Director of the Diversification of Economy Program (DIVECO 1), included in the support program of the European Union to Algeria, and  Head of  the project "Support of the European Union to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for the development of the Observatory of Agricultural Commodities and Food Processing within the INRAA”. From 1979 to 2010 he was Professor at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure Agronomique of Algiers (ENSA, former National Institute of Agronomy, INA).​​​​​



Image removed.Jean-Luc Chotte

Jean-Luc Chotte is a senior scientist at IRD (Institut de Recherche pour le Développement), France. His research topic deals with the impact of climate and land use changes on soil organic matter dynamics (stocks and fluxes). As a soil ecologist, he has a special interest in the role of soil biota (macrofauna, mesofauna, microorganisms) and their interactions in organic carbon dynamics in soils. His research promotes the role of soil biota as key players in agro-ecosystem functioning and in soil and land rehabilitation.  From 1996 to 2004 he was posted in Sénégal and conducted in depth field studies on means to enhance soil carbon stock in different agro-systems from semi -arid to humid ecosystems. He has been involved in international projects. He co-chaired the 3rd International Scientific Conference on “Climate Smart Agriculture” (2015). To date he has published about 100 publications in the fields of Soil Sciences and Soil Ecology. Since 2011 he is the Director of join Unit “Functional Ecology & biogeochemistry of soils & agro-ecosystems”. Since 2015 he as been nominated as Deputy Director of one of the 5 Scientific Department at IRD.​​​​

Image removed.Annette Cowie

​Annette Cowie has a background in soil science and plant nutrition, with particular interest in sustainable resource management. She is Principal Research Scientist -Climate, in NSW Department of Primary Industries. Annette is also Task Leader of the International Energy Agency Bioenergy research group Climate Change Effects of Biomass and Bioenergy Systems, and Land Degradation advisor on the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel of the Global Environment Facility. Her current research focuses on sustainability assessment and greenhouse gas accounting in agriculture and forestry; investigating key aspects of soil carbon dynamics and biochar processes; and life cycle assessment of forestry, bioenergy and biochar systems.


Image removed.Hamid Čustović 

​Hamid Čustović is professor and Vice Dean for International Cooperation at the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, University of Sarajevo where he has been since 1994. He also currently serves as Head of the Postgraduate study "Sustainable Land Management and Rural Planning". Prof. Custovic is a President of the Soil Science Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is also a member of several international associations and committees, including in the European Soil Bureau Network (ESBN) of the Joint Research Center and the Committee of Science and Technology (CST Bureau of UNCCD) for South and Eastern Europe. Prof. Custovic has extensive experience working as a project manager/team leader, consultant/expert for soil, agriculture and environmental in several international research projects. He is author and co-author of several books and number of research papers. He has presented numerous keynote seminars, including the prestigious Alps-Adria Scientific Workshops and international Symposium and Congress of Soil Science.

Image removed.Mihail Daradur  

Mihail Daradur has a background in Geography and works as climatologist at the State Hydrometeorological Service of the Republic of Moldova. He started his research and teaching career at the Hydro-meteorological Research Center of the Russian Federation and at the Academy of Sciences of Moldova. He has extensive experience in climate change/variability/extremes and in climate risk assessment and management. Current research interests focus on climate change/variability and drought related risks which bridge to other areas of geographical sciences (hydrology, geomorphology, soils) and to the general areas of geographic information science. The scientific approach is based on understanding of the system nature and complex challenge of these issues that suggests an interdisciplinary approach and scientific inputs to designing response plans that are highly dependent on human behavior in a changing climate. The overall goal of his scientific, expert and teaching activity is a more effective use of the actual and modelled climate/drought and related risks data in aligning with design information and facilitating decision making process.

Image removed.Joris de Vente 

​Joris de Vente is a researcher of the Soil Erosion and Conservation Research group, Spanish National Research Council (CEBAS-CSIC). His research advances interdisciplinary topics related to the impacts of changes in land use, land management and climate on soil and water resources and related ecosystem services from local to regional scales. As he strongly believes in implementation of academic research, he participated in various applied research projects looking for Sustainable Land Management (SLM) solutions to DLDD in collaboration with stakeholders. Working for the Spanish National Research Council in Murcia (CEBAS-CSIC), he currently researches the potential of SLM for climate change adaptation and mitigation and protect ecosystem services in semiarid agro-ecosystems of Africa and southern-Europe. He participated in over 22 (inter)national research projects and is (co)author of over 35 high-impact scientific papers. Through these experiences, he learned that meticulous trans-disciplinary science, well‐designed stakeholder engagement, and tailor-made dissemination of results are required to effectively protect ecosystem services. This combination is the source of inspiration for his present research.

Image removed.Karma Dema Dorji

​Karma Dema Dorji serves as the Porgramme Director of the National Soil Services Centre in the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests in 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 Head of the Agency which is the country’s focal Agency 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.  Ms. Dorji holds a Master of Philosophy (M.Phil) degree in soil science from the University of Reading, UK and a Bachelor’s degree (BSc. Hons.) in Agricultural Science from the University of Western Australia, Perth.

Image removed.Farah A. Ebraheem 

​Farah A. Ebraheem is Director of the Coastal and Desertification Monitoring Department of the Kuwait Environment Public Authority (KEPA) and Head of the National Committee to Combat Desertification. With a Bachelor of Science degree from Kuwait University in the field of geology, she is responsible for following up the execution of provisions of national laws and international agreements relevant to desertification and for the preparation of technical reports about the status of land use, desertification/ land degradation and soil.



Image removed.Jorge Luis Garcia 

​Jorge Luis Garcia is deputy manager for Assessment and Monitoring of Soil and Desertification at the National Forestry Commission of Mexico (CONAFOR) since 2009. Prior to this, he served as deputy director of Watershed Conservation at the Directorate General of Forest and Soil Management of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT). Mr. Garcia has extensive experience in international negotiations within the Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD. He is technical manager of CONAFOR for the National System to Combat Desertification and Degradation of Natural Resources (SINADES). He has driven the continuous development of the national action programme to combat desertification and promoted the creation of 12 coordination state bodies to combat desertification and drought. He has also coordinated the preparation of the last four national reports of Mexico for the UNCCD. ​​​

Image removed.Alan Grainger

​Alan Grainger is Senior Lecturer in Geography at the University of Leeds. He has conducted research into desertification since he attended the UN Conference on Desertification in 1977. He is the author of two books and various journal papers on desertification, and his specialist research areas include: global monitoring, indicator systems, spatio-temporal processes, social resilience to climatic variation, interactions between formal and informal institutions, and science-policy communication. He has been a member of the Editorial Board of the journal Land Degradation and Development since 2005, and was Rapporteur for the Ad Hoc Working Group on Science-Policy Advice (AGSA) between 2012 and 2013.



Image removed.Klaus Kellner

Klaus Kellner  is a C2 rated researcher by the National Research Foundation (NRF) in South Africa, in the field “Conservation and Management of Ecosystems and Biodiversity”, specializing in land degradation, desertification and restoration ecology. He lectures and supervises under- and post-graduate students at the School of Biological Sciences, North West University, Potchefstroom campus, South Africa. He was the Chairperson of the Bureau of the Committee on Science and Technology for the UNCCD till October 2011, also representing the African continent in the CST Bureau. He was the Co-chair for the Advisory Group for the Provision of Scientific Advice (AGSA) on DLDD issues for the UNCCD. He is the Science and Technology Correspondent and on the Roster of Experts for South Africa. He is the leader of many Research Projects that are funded by National and International organisations regarding DLDD in Southern Africa. 

Image removed.German Kust 

German Kust works on desertification/land degradation problems since 1988. Since 2013, he is professor in soil science and environmental ecology at the Soil Science Faculty of the Moscow Lomonosov state university. From 1996 to 2012, he served as Executive director, Head of the laboratory of soil resources and ecological projecting, at the Institute of Environmental Soil Science. His professional interests include sustainable management of natural resources, environmental land management, soil science, environmental and agricultural ecology, environmental education, biodiversity conservation, environmental services, remote sensing.  He has also been working as independent consultant/expert for several international organizations including the World Bank, UNDP, UNEP, UNESCO, UNCCD, GEF.  In 1996, he gained the Doctor of Biology degree in "Desertification and soil evolution in dry areas” and in 1988 a Ph.D. degree in “Soil alkalinity phenomenon and its diagnostics”. He gives/gave courses on: Soil evolution, Environmental doctrine, Remote sensing application in environmental sciences, Global mechanism of environmental/ natural resources management, Methodology of soil systematics, Theory and practice of landscape designing, GIS technologies in environmental sciences, and others. 

Image removed.Graciela Metternicht

​Graciela Metternicht, Director of the Institute of Environmental Studies at the University of New South Wales Australia (UNSW), is an international authority on sustainability and environmental management to address land degradation.  Her work encompasses the fields of earth observation science, physical geography, environmental monitoring and management. She has a special interest in applications of geospatial technologies for the management and analysis of natural resources. Prior to joining UNSW, Professor Metternicht was Regional Coordinator of Early Warning and Assessment of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) for Latin America and the Caribbean.  She also held positions as Professor of Geospatial Systems and Environmental Management (University of South Australia); and as Professor of Spatial Sciences (Curtin University of Technology). Professor Metternicht has published widely in international journals, and acts as a Visiting Professor at environmental institutions around the world.  Metternicht holds a PhD in Geography (summa cum laude) from the University of Ghent, Belgium. 

Image removed.Barron Joseph Orr 

Barron Joseph Orr is a Professor in the Office of Arid Lands Studies in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Arizona where he has been on faculty since 2001. He is also Arizona’s NASA Geospatial Extension Specialist, tasked with bridging the gap between Earth systems science and technology and its use by the general public. This is made possible by a cross-disciplinary career path encompassing international business, international development and academia (anthropology, ecology, remote sensing & spatial analysis), all contributing to our understanding of and response to change in coupled human - environmental systems. His current research focuses on the diffusion of innovation, knowledge transfer, technology adoption and the integration of local and scientific knowledge. He was recently named a Marie Curie International Incoming Fellow hosted by the University of Alicante to develop solutions to bridge the society – society divide, particularly in global drylands.

Image removed.Rajendra Prasad Pandey  

Rajendra Prasad Pandey is currently working as Scientist in the National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee in India. He holds a bachelor degree in Agricultural Engineering, a master degree in Soil and Water Engineering and a PhD degree in Hydrology. He started his career as Scientist in 1990 in the National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee in India. He has authored and published 28 research papers in peer reviewed international journals, 16 papers in peer reviewed national journals and 6 chapters in edited books. He has authored and presented 58 research papers in conferences and symposium. He has completed 4 sponsored projects, 29 internally funded research projects and 5 consultancy projects. He is involved in conducting basic and applied research studies and contributed in developing methodologies, particularly for quantitative assessment of streamflow drought severity, assessment of vulnerability to drought using physiographic and climatic factors, a new climatic classification for regional drought characterization. Some of his important contributions are: (i) Development of relationships between climatic parameters and the average drought frequency, (ii)  Revised classification of Standardizes Precipitation Index (SPI) and Effective drought Index (EDI) for their applicability in different climatic regions of India, (iii) new index for quantification of vulnerability to drought (iv) Developed stream flow drought severity index (DSI).  He worked as “Secretary” of Indian water Resources Society during 2009-2011 and he is presently holding the position of “Secretary” of Indian Association of Hydrologists.

Image removed.Vanina Pietragalla

​Vanina Pietragalla, graduated in Agrarian Economy and Administration, she is a master degree candidate in Agribusiness and Food, School of Agriculture, University of Buenos Aires (UBA). She is a Technical Adviser to the Department of Land Conservation and Desertification of the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development of Argentina. Pietragalla is professor and researcher of Environmental Economics and Natural Resources Management, of the department of Economy, Development and Agrarian Planning of the School of Agriculture of the UBA. She is member of Steering Committee of the National Observatory on Land Degradation and Desertification and team member of the “Adaptation Fund project: Increasing Climate Resilience & Enhancing Sustainable Land Management in the Southwest of the Buenos Aires Province”, as well as the “Sustainable Land Use Management in the Drylands of North-west Argentina” project executed by the UNDP funded by GEF, among others. She is part of LADA Argentina team. Several publications on environmental economics; ecosystem services assessment and desertification.

Image removed.Tao Wang 

Tao Wang works for the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) as the Director and Research Professor of the Key Laboratory of Desert and Desertification. He holds a Ph.D. in Physical Geography in 1988 from the Institute of Desert Research, CAS. He was the Director General of the Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, CAS (2003-2012) and is the President of Lanzhou Branch of CAS (2011).  Through the research for 30 years on the fields of aeolian desertification such as the key basic scientific issues, physical and biological process, monitoring and assessing, combating policy and strategy and approach, he has made significant contributions for understanding and combating the process of desertification in China. He is also involved in the board of many associations linked with desert and desertification research, training and development in the domestic and overseas.


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