June 15, 2014 | News

Panelists Biographies

Mahmoud Mohieldin


Corporate Secretary and President's Special Envoy

Mahmoud Mohieldin is the World Bank's Corporate Secretary and President's Special Envoy on Millennium Development Goals, the Post-2015 process, and financial development. He is also in charge of coordinating the World Bank Group’s efforts to strengthen partnerships with the UN and multilateral development institutions.

Prior to joining the World Bank, Mr. Mohieldin held numerous leading positions in the government of Egypt and served on several boards of directors in the Central Bank of Egypt and the corporate sector. He was a member of the Commission on Growth and Development and selected a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum in 2005.

His professional experience extends into the academic arena as a professor of economics at Cairo University, also serving as member of the board of several universities in Egypt and holding leading positions in national and regional research centers and think tanks. He has authored numerous publications and articles in leading journals in the fields of finance and development in English and Arabic. He received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Warwick, M.Sc in Economic and Social Policy Analysis from the University of York, and B.Sc from Cairo University.

Monique Barbut


Executive Secretary

Monique Barbut was appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General as the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), starting 1 October 2013.

Ms. Barbut has been committed to the issues of Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought through her previous work as Chief Executive Officer of the Global Environmental Facility (GEF).

During her tenure, the Fourth GEF Assembly amended the GEF Instrument to list UNCCD among the treaties for which the facility acts in the role of financial mechanism. The GEF, as a financial mechanism of the UNCCD, directly contributes to the implementation of the Convention, including the 10-year (2008–2018) Strategic Plan and Framework, adopted by the Conference of Parties during the Eighth Session.

Ms. Barbut attended the first session of the Conference of the Parties (COP1) to the UNCCD as a delegate of the Government of France. She attended COP9 in Buenos Aires as key note speaker and substantively contributed to its outcome.

Prior to joining the GEF, she served as Director of the Division of Technology, Industry and Economics at the United Nations Environment Programme (2003-2006). From 1996 to 2003, Ms. Barbut held different positions in the Agence Française pour le Développement (AFD). Her work there related to the French aid system, particularly sustainable project financing activities in the French overseas territories, and activities relating to ex-post evaluation.​

Dr. Naoko Ishii


CEO and Chairperson

Dr. Naoko Ishii is the CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), an independently operating financial organization that provides grants for projects related to the global environment.

Dr. Ishii was unanimously selected by the GEF Council in June 2012 and took office on August 1.
Prior to becoming the fourth CEO and Chairperson of the GEF, Dr. Ishii, as Deputy Vice Minister of Finance, was responsible for Japan's international financial and development policies, and for its global policies on environmental issues such as climate change and biodiversity.
She led the Japanese delegation at the Transition Committee for designing the Green Climate Fund. Dr. Ishii's career at the Ministry of Finance began in 1981 with a focus on the international sphere, particularly development issues. Later in her career she was Japan's Director for Bilateral Development Finance (2004-2006) and for coordination with Multilateral Development Banks (2002-04).

For nearly half of her career, Dr. Ishii has served in international assignments outside of Japan, including at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. At the World Bank, Dr. Ishii was the Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives (2006-2010). During that period, while based in Colombo, she managed the World Bank program for Sri Lanka amidst that country's quarter-century old civil conflict by building partnership among key stakeholders. She also served as the country program coordinator for Vietnam at the World Bank (1997-2001), project manager at Harvard Institute for International Development (1996-1997), economist at the International Monetary Fund (1992-1995) working for Africa and Asia, as well as visiting fellow at Center for International Affairs at Harvard University (1984-1985).

Dr. Ishii also taught sustainable development and environment at Keio University. She has published numerous papers and several books, two of which were awarded by Suntory Prize (1990) and Okita Memorial Prize for International Development Research (2004). She is the inaugural recipient of the 2006 Enjoji Jiro Memorial Prize. She holds BA and Ph.D. from University of Tokyo.

H.E. Mr. Brigi Rafini


Prime Minister of Niger

H.E. Mr. Uahekua Herunga


Minister of Environment and Tourism, Namibia

Magda Lovei


Sector Manager, World Bank

Magda Lovei has been working at the World Bank since 1993. Early in her career in the Bank, she worked on investment projects, policy-based lending operations, studies, and technical assistance programs in several countries from Africa to Eastern Europe, East and Central Asia, and Latin America. During the 1980s, she led the Bank’s successful global initiative aimed at phasing out leaded gasoline world-wide. As Lead Environmental Economist at the Environment Department of the World Bank, she was in charge of the preparation and implementation oversight of the World Bank’s first corporate Environment Strategy, approved by the Bank’s Board of Directors in 2001. Since 2003, Ms. Lovei has held various management positions including Sector Manager for Environment, in the East Asia and the Pacific Region (EAP); Manager of Policy and Operations, Sustainable Development Department (EAP); Sector Manager for Social Development, Environment, and Rural Development (EAP); and since July 2012, Sector Manager for Environment, Natural Resources, Water, and Disaster risk Management in the Africa Region. Ms. Lovei holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Budapest, Hungary; and an MBA in finance from the George Washington University, US. She is author of several publications.

Jamal Saghir


Director, Africa Sustainable Development, World Bank

Jamal Saghir is Director of the Sustainable Development Department for the Africa Region at the World Bank. In this position, he provides overall leadership to the Bank’s activities in sub-Saharan Africa—including those financed by the International Development Association (IDA)—in agriculture, rural development, energy, environment, climate change and natural resources management, infrastructure, ICTs, oil, gas and mining, post-conflict reconstruction, social development, transport, urban development, and water. Mr. Saghir ensures the soundness and alignment of country, regional and corporate strategies, as well as the Bank’s portfolio in these sectors, so that all contribute effectively to poverty reduction and a sustainable, climate-resilient future in sub-Saharan Africa.

Mr. Saghir was previously Director and Chair of the Bank Group’s Boards for Energy, Transport and Water, a position he held from 2001-10. In this capacity, he led the Bank Group’s activities and guided its lending strategy in infrastructure. In 2010, the Bank committed $24 billion in infrastructure investments.

He joined the World Bank in 1990, after working as a senior advisor on privatization, energy and infrastructure in the governments of Tunisia and Quebec, Canada. At the Bank, he has served in senior advisory and leadership roles in a variety of private sector development, privatization and restructuring operations in Africa, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. In 1998, he was named the Bank’s Sector Leader for Urban Water and Sanitation, in the Infrastructure Development Group, and promoted to Sector Manager in 1999.

Mr. Saghir is also an appointed member of the United Nations Secretary General’s Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change, and a member of the Global Energy Assessment. He is a frequent speaker on sustainable development issues at international conferences of decision-makers and thought leaders.

Paola Agostini


Coordinator GEF/TerrAfrica/FCPF, World Bank

Paola Agostini was born in Milan, Italy in 1965. She is a Senior Economist in the Africa Sustainable Development Department of the World Bank.

Education: She holds a PhD in Economics, since 1995, from University of California San Diego, and a Master of Art in Social Sciences, since 1990, from Universita Bocconi, Milan, Italy.

Experience in brief. Ms Agostini is currently the Program Coordinator for GEF, FCPF and TerrAfrica in the Africa Sustainable Development Department at The World Bank Group. She is in charge of coordinating more than 100 projects in Africa financed by GEF (Global Environment Facility) dealing with Biodiversity, Climate Change, Land Degradation, Sustainable Forest Management, International Water, and Chemicals; she coordinates the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility in the Africa Region dealing with Reduction of Emission due to Deforestation and Forest Degradation in more than 13 countries in Africa. She is also coordinating the TerrAfrica Partnership a program to promote Sustainable Land and Water Management to reach multiple benefits in 24 countries in Africa improving livelihood, mitigation, adaptation and conservation, using a landscape approach.

Previous positions: Ms Agostini worked in different department of the World Bank. From 2004 to 2009 she was working in the Africa region on post conflict Liberia and on Ghana and South Africa. From 1996 to -2004 Ms Agostini was working as economist in the Latin America Department of the World Bank, looking mainly at rural development for Central American Countries. Ms Agostini also lived in Haiti , Mozambique and Mali where she worked for the United Nations .
Before that Ms Agostini worked for Universita Bocconi in Italy and for GRETA , an econometric think-tank in Italy.

Andrew Revkin


Senior Fellow for Environmental Understanding, Pace University

Andrew Revkin has been writing about environmental sustainability for more than three decades, from the Amazon to the White House to the North Pole, mainly for The New York Times. He has won the top awards in science journalism multiple times, along with a Guggenheim Fellowship. As the Senior Fellow for Environmental Understanding at Pace University, he teaches courses in blogging, environmental communication and documentary film. He has written acclaimed books on global warming, the changing Arctic and the assault on the Amazon rain forest, as well as three book chapters on science communication. Drawing on his experience with his Times blog, Dot Earth, which Time Magazine named one of the top 25 blogs in 2013, Revkin speaks to audiences around the world about the power of the new communication tools to foster progress.

Erick Fernandes


Advisor, Agriculture Global Practice, the World Bank

Erick Fernandes is an Adviser on Natural Resource Management and Climate Change with the World Bank’s Latin America and Caribbean Region program and also co-led the Bank’s Global Expert team (GET) on Adaptation to Climate Change. His professional qualifications include a BSc (Hons) in Forestry from Aberdeen University, Scotland and a PhD in Soil Science from North Carolina State University, USA. Erick’s professional career spans thirty five years working in academia and in national and international agencies in Africa, East Asia, South Asia, and Latin America on climate smart agriculture, the sustainable management of forests, the management of hydrological flows from watershed to basin scales for enhanced resilience to climate change, and the rehabilitation of degraded lands to restore productivity and environmental services. Prior to joining the World Bank in 2003, he was an International Professor of Crop and Soil Sciences at Cornell University (USA), where he conducted cropping systems research, taught a range of graduate and undergraduate courses, and mentored graduate students from over 20 developing countries. While at Cornell he was selected as Principle Scientist/Investigator for NASA’s Large Scale Biosphere Atmosphere (LBA-Eco) program. As a member of the World Bank delegations, he has contributed to the negotiations and discussions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (UN CSD), and the World Meteorological Organization’s Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS).

Jeff Herrick


Soil Scientist, Agriculture Research Service, Department of Agriculture, USA

Jeff Herrick is a scientist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service and holds an adjunct faculty appointment at New Mexico State University. His research includes work on factors that control the resistance and resilience of arid and semi-arid ecosystems, and applied studies leading to the development of assessment, monitoring and decision support systems for evidence-based land use policy and management. He led the development of nationally and internationally adopted rangeland monitoring protocols, and has worked on related issues with scientists and land managers in over 20 countries, including current leadership of the global ‘Land-Potential Knowledge System’ (LandPKS) project. He serves as an advisor to several US government agencies responsible for land management, and is a member of the UNEP International Resource Panel. He also serves as the US science representative to the UNCCD. His training includes degrees from Swarthmore College (US – ecology), Lincoln University (New Zealand – Agricultural Science), and The Ohio State University (US – soil science).

Elmedina Krilasevic


MB President, Forestry and Environmental Action, UNCCD Civil Society Panel member

Elmedina Krilasevic is the MB President and a founding member of Forestry and Environmental Action (fea.), headquartered in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In December 2013, Ms. Krilasevic was appointed an elected member and regional representative for Central and Eastern Europe within the UNCCD CSO Panel comprised of 5 regional CSO representatives.  Her dedicated work in advancing the opportunities for sustainable forest management, nature conservation and application of environmental and social safeguards in development projects in South East Europe and Central Asia, has a strong focus on strengthening the participation of non-profit actors in policy making and implementation of the multilateral environmental agreements on national and regional levels.

Dennis P. Garrity


Drylands Ambassador, UN Convention to Combat Desertification and Distinguished Senior Research Fellow, World Agroforestry Centre, Nairobi

Dr. Garrity is a systems agronomist and research leader whose career has been focused on the development of small-scale farming systems in the tropics. He was formerly Director General of the World Agroforestry Centre. He is currently leading an effort to reinvent agriculture in the 21st Century by deploying unconventional ways to build more productive and environmentally sound farming systems through a global Partnership to Create an EverGreen Agriculture. He also chairs the Steering Committee for Landcare International, a worldwide effort to support grassroots community-based natural resource management. Dr. Garrity has a BSc degree in agriculture from Ohio State University, an MSc in agronomy from the University of the Philippines at Los Baños, and a PhD in crop physiology from the University of Nebraska.

Gustavo Fonseca


Head of Natural Resources, the Global Environment Facility

Gustavo Fonseca’s responsibilities as Natural Resources Head include overseeing a portfolio of investments in biodiversity, forests and REDD+, transboundary marine and freshwater conservation, and sustainable land management. A tenured professor of Zoology and Ecology at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil, he was the founder and first Executive Director of Center for Applied Biodiversity before becoming the Chief Conservation and Science Officer of Conservation International. He holds a Master's degree in Latin American Studies and a Ph.D. in Forest Management and Conservation from the University of Florida. Dr. Fonseca published close to 150 publications articles and books, including 14 times in Science, four times in Nature, and twice in PNAS. He received the Oliver Austin Award of the University of Florida’s State Museum for outstanding research in the natural sciences, the Environmental Protection Award of Government of the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, the Distinguished Service Recognition award from the Brazil Biodiversity Fund (Funbio), and the Golden Ark Award, an official order of the Dutch government, the highest conservation award of Netherlands.

Mohamed Bakarr


Senior Environmental Specialist, GEF

Mohamed Bakarr is responsible for coordinating the Land Degradation Focal Area in the Global Environment Facility, which supports eligible countries to invest in Sustainable Land Management and implement the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). 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 (1997 – 2003) at Conservation International where he served in several capacities, including most recently (2007 – 2009) as Executive Director of the Center for Applied Biodiversity Science; and four years at the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) in Nairobi, Kenya where he served as Director of Strategic Initiatives and Assistant Director General (2003 – 2007). Mohamed is a native of Sierra Leone, and holds a MS and PhD in Tropical Ecology from the University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida.

Raffaello Cervigni


Lead Environmental Economist, World Bank

Raffaello Cervigni is a lead environmental economist with the Africa Region of the World Bank. He holds Masters and Ph.D. degrees in economics (from Oxford University and University College London), and has some 18 years professional experience on programs, projects and research financed by the World Bank, the GEF, the European Union, and the Italian Government in a variety of sectors.  He is currently the World Bank’s regional coordinator for climate change in the Africa region, after serving for about three years in a similar role for the Middle East and North Africa region. He is the author or co-author of over 40 technical papers and publications, including books, book chapters and articles in learned journals.

Edwige Botoni


Natural Resource Management Expert, CILSS

Edwige Botoni holds a PhD in Population Biology and Ecology of the University of Montpellier III (Paul Valery) and a Diploma of Specialized Higher (DESS) in Management of agro-forestry-pastoral systems in the tropics of the University Paris XII (Val de Marne).

At CILSS, she holds the position of Expert in Natural Resource Management in charge of Multilateral Environmental Agreements. As such, she is responsible in supporting the implementation of the UN Convention to combat desertification and implementation of the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel. Dr Botoni coordinated the implementation of the Sahel Study, a regional capitalization study on the impact of the last 30 years investments in combating desertification in the Sahel. The purpose of this study was to use cases of successful experiences as part of advocacy of decision makers for a more enhanced support to the rural sector. This exhilarating experience led her to travel several Sahelian countries with Chris Reij and share his belief that it there's hope for combatting desertification in the Sahel.

Before joining the CILSS in 2006, Dr. Botoni worked for over a decade (1994-2005) as agro-pastoralist researcher at the Environment and agricultural Research Institute (INERA / Burkina Faso). She has coordinated several projects there and held various positions of responsibility in the Natural Resources Management / Production Systems Program.

Banu Setlur


Senior Environmental Specialist, World Bank
Banu Setlur is a Senior Environment Specialist with the Middle East and North Africa Region of the World Bank. She has more than 12 years ’ experience working on projects financed by the World Bank and GEF, in the MENA region as well as South Asia and Africa regions. She manages projects primarily in Yemen and Jordan, focusing on adaptation to climate change, coastal zone management, desert ecosystems, and fisheries sector management. She is an active member of the Bank's Safeguards community, working on integrating aspects of environmental and social sustainability in project design. She has an MS in Environmental Science and Public Policy from George Mason University, USA and an associate degree in Environmental Impact Assessment from Manchester, UK.

Norbert Henninger


Senior Associate, World Resources Institute

Norbert Henninger is a Senior Associate in WRI's People and Ecosystems Program where he is responsible for creating better information tools to support sustainable development decisions. His current research focuses on developing spatial indicators of ecosystem services and linking them to poverty maps.

Previously, he developed an indicator framework to measure public access to environmental decision-making, provided advisory services to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, and promoted the concept of and applications for poverty maps. He coordinated the Pilot Analysis of Global Ecosystems (PAGE), a first overview of the global conditions of ecosystems and the primary goods and services provided by them.

Henninger received his undergraduate degree in economics and management from the University of Mannheim, Germany, MBA from the University of Mannheim, Germany, and MSc in Environmental Sciences from Johns Hopkins University.

Mona Eldaief


Director, Solar Mamas

Egyptian American filmmaker Mona Eldaief is Director and Cinematographer of the award winning documentary film, 'Rafea: Solar Mama' , the story of a Bedouin woman from the northeastern desert in Jordan who struggles against the patriarchal culture of her village to get a transformative education as a solar engineer at the Barefoot College in India and empower the women of her village.


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