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.