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Bios of the speakers

Ian Johnson

Ian Johnson, a British national, has experience in the areas of sustainable development, energy and economic policy.

He joined the World Bank as a Young Professional in 1980 and was soon afterwards promoted as Senior Economist of the Europe, Middle East and North Africa Power and Energy Division. He later held the position of Principal Sector Economist in the Policy, Research, and External Affairs Department.

In 1991, he was appointed as Administrator of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and later became its Assistant Chief Executive Officer.

In 1997 he was appointed senior manager of the Environment Department and in 1998 he was promoted to Vice President with responsibilities for Sustainable Development, environment, agriculture and social policy.

He was also appointed as Chairman of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

Prior to joining the World Bank he worked with UNICEF and spent five years in Bangladesh. He left the World Bank in 2006 and has since then undertaken a number of advisory positions in the public and private sector.

He is Chairman of a carbon market research company based in the UK; is senior advisor to GLOBE International and Chairman of its Land Use and Ecological Services Commission; was a member of the Swedish Commission on Climate Change and Development; and has acted as an advisor to the UK government, the UNFCCC and IFAD and a number of consulting companies.

Johnson is an economist and has studied at the universities of Wales, Sussex and Harvard.


Luc Gnacadja

Luc Gnacadja is the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. Before taking up his position as UNCCD Executive Secretary, Gnacadja served as Minister of Environment, Housing and Urban Development of Benin from 1999 to 2005. He gained first-hand knowledge of the UNCCD process over a number of years in his capacity as Head of Delegation to the Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD.

Gnacadja was also Head of Delegation to the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC as well as CBD. His pronounced leadership qualities enabled him at the national level to initiate and build synergies between the Rio Conventions, in conjunction with the National Commission on Sustainable Development.

He has served as Chairman of several international ministerial Conferences, meetings and workshops related to the environment, urban and regional development, and sustainable development, including the African Ministers Conference on Environment and the Commission on Sustainable Development.

Veerle Vandeweerd

Veerle Vandeweerd (Belgium) is Director of the Environment and Energy Group of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).  Directing a global team of more than 180 staff both at headquarters and in the field, Vandeweerd holds overall responsibility for an environment programme that disbursed more than $325 million in 2008 with significant funding from the Global Environment Facility, Multilateral Fund of the Montreal Protocol, and the Governments of Japan, Norway, Spain and others.

Veerle has been instrumental in promoting UNDP’s work in all of these areas but, in particular, has played a key role in expanding the scope and range of UNDP’s work in the area of climate change. This has included support to countries in the lead up to the global climate change conference in Copenhagen and improved cooperation both within the UN and with the UN’s many partners including the World Bank, Global Environment Facility, and others.

Prior to joining UNDP in September 2007, Vandeweerd served in the United Nations Environment Programme for more than 25 years. Among other assignments, she headed the Global Programme of Action for Protection of the Marine Environment, led the Programme on Regional Seas, Coral Reefs and Small Island Developing States, and initiated and directed the Global Environmental Outlook (GEO) report series. Before joining the UN, Veerle served as Director of Environmental Assessment and Reporting for the Flemish Region in Belgium and spent a number of years working on humanitarian assistance projects in Africa.

Vandeweerd holds Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Antwerp and has lectured at the University of Lusaka in Zambia.

Robert Carlson

In January of 1997, Robert Carlson was elected president of North Dakota Farmers Union, the largest farm organization in the state of North Dakota with 42,000 member families. As president, he leads the Farmers Union Mutual Insurance Company and the Farmers Union Service Association, an insurance agency wholly-owned by NDFU.

Prior to his election, Carlson served as vice president of NDFU for 10 years.

In the national arena, Robert Carlson represents North Dakota as a board member for National Farmers Union and Farmers Union Enterprises. He serves as chairman of the NFU budget committee on the National Farmers Union board. Carlson serves as Director for International Relations for National Farmers Union and has represented family farm interests at world food summits and International Federation of Ag Producers’ gatherings in many countries and has participated in trade missions to Cuba, China and Brazil. He recently represented NFU at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.

Carlson earned a master’s degree in history from the University of North Dakota.

Sálvano Briceño

Director of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction Secretariat (UNIS) since 2001. His career has focused on management of environmental and sustainable development programmes at United Nations, IUCN and Venezuelan Government.

Prior to UNIS, he was Coordinator of BIOTRADE and GHG Emissions Trading Initiatives at UNCTAD (1999-2001); Deputy Executive Secretary of the UNCCD (1996-1999); Coordinator of Intergovernmental and Institutional Support of the UNFCCC (1991-1996); and first Coordinator of UNEP Caribbean Environment Programme at Kingston, Jamaica (1987-1991).

He has a Doctorate on Administrative Law (University of Paris II, Pantheon-Sorbonne, 1975) and a Master on Public Administration (Harvard University, 1984).


Orlando Ernesto Rey Santos

Orlando Ernesto Rey Santos is Director of Environment with the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment (CITMA), Cuba, since 1999. He has worked for two decades in the development and implementation of environmental policies, programmes and strategies. Since 2007 he has been  attending the climate change negotiation.

Nana Künkel

Nana Künkel has a background in Agricultural Economics and Political Science. She currently works as an expert on adaptation to climate in GTZ’s Climate Protection Programme, advising on climate policy, climate finance, adaptation in agriculture and water management, and on climate information systems, and managing small adaptation pilot projects in Asia and Africa. She has negotiated in the UN climate negotiations and has profound knowledge of the UNFCCC’s work on adaptation to climate change. 

She currently works as an expert on adaptation to climate in GTZ’s Climate Protection Programme, advising on climate policy, climate finance, adaptation in agriculture and water management, and on climate information systems, and managing small adaptation pilot projects in Asia and Africa. She has negotiated in the UN climate negotiations and has profound knowledge of the UNFCCC’s work on adaptation to climate change.

Chris Reij

Chris Reij is a senior Sustainable Land Management specialist of the Centre for International Cooperation, VU University Amsterdam. He works in Africa since 1978. Although he has always maintained a focus on the Sahel,

Chris Reij has been involved in numerous studies and consultancies for bilateral and multilateral donors as well as NGOs in Africa, but also in Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific. His main fields of interest (and publications) are: soil and water conservation in ylands; farmer innovation in agriculture; long-term trends in agriculture and environment and analysis of successes in agriculture and land management in Africa.

He is currently facilitator of “African Re-greening Initiatives”, which supports farmers to adapt to climate change and to develop more productive and sustainable farming systems. The approach of this initiative is to scale up existing successes in re-greening (agroforestry, participatory forest management) by individual farmers and communities. The initiative, which is currently operational in Burkina Faso and Mali is now expanding to Niger and Ethiopia. It collaborates with the World Wide Web Foundation and VU University’s Network Institute in a Web alliance for Re-greening Africa.

Richard Kinley

Richard Kinley is the Deputy Executive Secretary of the Climate Change Secretariat (UNFCCC). Since joining the Climate Change Secretariat in 1993, Richard Kinley has held a number of senior positions including as Coordinator; Intergovernmental and Conference Affairs (2000 to 2006) and Coordinator; Resources, Management and Coordination (1996-2000), overseeing the secretariat’s teams dealing with intergovernmental process management, conference affairs, administration and budget, and national communications. He was Secretary of the Conference of the Parties from 1996 to 2007 and lead the secretariat support for the negotiation of the Kyoto Protocol (1995-1997). He was Officer-in-Charge of the secretariat from September 2005 to August 2006, and as of December 2006 Deputy Executive Secretary. In 2007 he lead the inter-agency team preparing for the Secretary-General's high-level event on climate change on 24 September 2007.

Prior to joining the Climate Change Secretariat, Mr. Kinley was an official in the Government of Canada, working in the areas of international environmental policy, northern environment and resource management, and international climate policy.

He studied political science and international relations, holding a Bachelors degree from the University of Manitoba and an M.A. from Carleton University.

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