Panel Members

Mark Stafford Smith

Dr. Mark Stafford Smith is based in Canberra, Australia, and contributes to research on adaptation and sustainable development.  He has recently retired from CSIRO, Australia’s national research organisation, where he had been oversighting a highly interdisciplinary program of research on many aspects of adapting to climate change, as well as regularly interacting with national and international policy issues around sustainable development. He continues as a CSIRO Honorary Fellow, and in several international roles. 

Mark has over 30 years’ experience in drylands systems ecology, management and policy, including senior roles such as CEO of the Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre in Alice Springs.  His significant international roles include being past vice-chair of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme’s Scientific Committee; co-chair of the Planet Under Pressure: New Knowledge Towards Solutions conference in 2012 on global environmental change in the lead up to Rio+20; and through 2013-17 Chair of the inaugural Science Committee for Future Earth, which helps to coordinate research towards global sustainability worldwide. He continues to publish, adding to over 200 peer-reviewed contributions to science, as well as many presentations and publications for less-specialized audiences.

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Rosina Bierbaum

Dr. Rosina Bierbaum’s experience extends from climate science into foreign relations and international development. She is a Professor and Dean Emerita at the University of Michigan with appointments in both the School of Natural Resources and Environment, and the School of Public Health. She also served on President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, and is a lead author of the U.S. National Climate Assessment, and an Adaptation Fellow at the World Bank. Previously, Dr. Bierbaum served for two decades in both the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. Government, and ran the first Environmental Division of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). She was selected by the World Bank to co-direct its prestigious World Development Report in 2010, which focused on climate change and development.

Dr. Bierbaum is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Ecological Society of America, and received the American Geophysical Union’s Waldo Smith award for “extraordinary service to Geosciences”, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Climate Protection Award”. She is also a board member for the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Federation of American Scientists, the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, and the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement.

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Saleem Ali

Saleem H. Ali is an environmental planner whose research and practice focuses on ways of resolving ecological conflicts through technical and social mechanisms, as well as exploring novel ways of peace-building between corporations, governments and communities. He holds the Blue and Gold Distinguished Professorship in Energy and the Environment at the University of Delaware, and is also a Senior Fellow at Columbia University's Center on Sustainable Investment and Georgetown University's Center for Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Studies.

Professor Ali has held the Chair in Sustainable Resources Development at the University of Queensland’s Sustainable Minerals Institute in Brisbane, Australia (where he retains professorial affiliation). Previously, he was Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School of Natural Resources where he was founding director of the Institute for Environmental Diplomacy and Security.

His books include Treasures of the Earth: Need, Greed and a Sustainable Future, (Yale Univ. Press); Environmental Diplomacy (with Lawrence Susskind, Oxford Univ. Press), Mining, the Environment and Indigenous Development Conflicts (Univ. of Arizona Press) and Islam and Education: Conflict and Conformity in Pakistan’s Madrassas (Oxford Univ. Press). He has also authored over one hundred other peer-reviewed publications and been the editor of acclaimed anthologies including “Peace Parks: Conservation and Conflict Resolution” (MIT Press) and “Diplomacy on Ice: Energy and the Environment in the Arctic and Antarctic” (with R. Pincus, Yale Univ. Press). 

Corporate and government experience includes employment in General Electric’s Technical Leadership Program; a Baker Foundation Fellowship at Harvard Business School and a Research Internship at the UK House of Commons. Professor Ali was chosen as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2011 and received an Emerging Explorer award from the National Geographic Society in 2010. He is a member of the United Nations International Resource Panel, The IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas, and serves on the board of the Diamonds and Development Initiative. He is also a series co-editor for the University of Chicago Press on Environmental Science, Law and Policy.

Professor Ali received his doctorate in Environmental Planning from MIT, a Master’s degree in Environmental Studies from Yale University and Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Tufts University (summa cum laude). He is a citizen of Australia, Pakistan and the United States.

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Brian Child

Brian Child earned a B.Sc. (Hon) degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Zimbabwe, and a D.Phil. from the University of Oxford (Rhodes Scholar) with a comparative study of the ecology and economics of livestock and wildlife in drylands in southern Africa.  He provided extension and research to private conservation landholders in Zimbabwe, and played a leading role in the development of Zimbabwe’s Communal Area Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE).  In Zambia he developed a sustainable park management system and a community conservation program in the Luangwa Valley, and introduced performance-based law enforcement in the greater Kafue ecosystem.  He chaired IUCN’s Southern African Sustainable Use Specialist Group for six years, promoting the concept of conservation as a local development strategy, and facilitating southern practitioners to publish five books or journal special editions.  He is currently an Associate Professor at the University of Florida, with his research focusing on the institutional economics and governance of state, private and community conservation, but with a primary interest in developing new research/education approaches that bridge research and practice.  He has published or co-polished seven books and 60 peer-reviewed articles.   As a consultant he has planned or reviewed over seventy projects on park and community sustainability or educational capacity building for numerous development agencies (UNDP/GEF, NORAD, USAID, World Bank, Danida).   He also works for The Nature Conservancy to develop governance, livelihoods and economic monitoring systems for large landscapes.

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Ricardo Barra

Dr. Barra received his degree in biochemistry in 1988 from the University of Concepción and is Ph.D. in environmental Sciences from the same university in 1993.  He has been postdoctoral research fellow (Marie Curie) at the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Milan, Italy during 1995-1996 period.Since 1993 Dr. Ricardo Barra, is at the Faculty of Environmental Sciences/EULA-Chile Environmental Sciences. His areas of specialization are, environmental chemistry, ecotoxicology and regulatory issues.

During the last years Dr. Barra has been working in different areas in the field of  environmental chemistry and toxicology, mainly in the field of environmental fate and effects of Persistent Organic Pollutants, emerging contaminants and mercury compounds.  In 2001 he was appointed as regional coordinator  (South American region) of a project  for performing a regionally based assessment of persistent toxic substances, then coordinated  by UNEP-Chemicals and in 2003 was part of a team that released a global report for UNEP regarding Persistent Toxic Substances. During 2004-2007 period was appointed by the National Commission on the Environment (CONAMA) on behalf of the Chilean University Council as advisor of the Consultative council of the Commission. Since 2004 was deputy director of Research and Education at the EULA Chile Environmental Sciences Centre, University of Concepción and in 2011 was designated as Director. In October 2007 – December 2008 he was nominated President of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry Latin America (SETAC LA). In 2008 he receipts the Bio-Bio regional prize on the Environment granted by the Regional Commission on the Environment and the Presidency of the Biobio region. In 2008 he was nominated as a member for a 4 year period of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC) of the Stockholm Convention where he chaired the group for the analysis of the endosulfan proposal to be nominated as POP. In  2011, he was granted with the municipal prize in applied research by the city major of Concepcion. In 2010-2011 he contributed as coordinating lead author to the chapter Chemicals and Wastes in the Global Environmental Outlook GEO-5, released in June 2012 just before the Rio+20 conference. In 2010 he contributes to the development of the GEF Guidance of  Emerging chemicals management issues, together with Henk Bowmann (South Africa) and Minh H Wong (Hong Kong, China). In 2014 was appointed as a panel member of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel of the Global Environmental Facility (GEF). Currently, he is involved in research regarding chemical risks of POPs and emerging contaminants in Chile. He has published over 80 papers in international peer reviewed journals and several book chapters.

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Graciela Metternicht

Professor Metternicht has 24 years of research experience in environmental management and policy to address land degradation, and has worked at a range of prominent institutions around the world. Since 2012 Graciela is Professor of Environmental Geography at the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, UNSW Sydney.

Previously (5 years) she was Senior Officer of Early Warning and Assessment at UN Environment working on integrated environmental assessments and early warning, providing independent scientific and technical advice to Ministries of Environment of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Professor Metternicht has expertise and leadership in global environmental issues and sustainable development, and applications of geospatial technologies to these issues, supported by peer-reviewed publications relevant to the GEF; experience in scientific research, in the application of results to real world issues in developing countries; experience of working in developing countries; and in the design and implementation of programs involving multilateral environmental agreements.

An expert in land degradation, ecological sustainable development, land use planning and natural resource management; she has the capacity to initiate and manage multi-stakeholder applied research that provide science-based evidence to policy and decision-making; and has provided independent and expert advice on matters related to land degradation, environmental management, with emphasis on assessment, surveillance and monitoring.

Since 2014 she has served as Science Policy Interface Member of the UNCCD, was appointed to the Science Advisory Committee of a GEF project on Land Degradation Monitoring, and advised on the preparation of the methodological framework for the FAO-IUCN Participatory Rangeland and Grassland Assessment (GEF-funded in five countries).

Since January 2018 serves on the Scientific Steering Committee of the Future Earth Global Land Programme, an international network of experts in land system science, and chairs the Biodiversity Conservation Advisory Panel of the State of New South Wales.

Co-leads the IUCN Dryland Ecosystem Specialist Group; was a member the Assessment Methodology Group of the 6th Global Environment Outlook (GEO-6), and coordinated the LAC chapter of the GEO-5.

Born in Santa Fe, Argentina, she is a native Spanish speaker. 

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Thomas E. Lovejoy

Dr. Thomas Lovejoy is an innovative and accomplished conservation biologist who coined the term “biological diversity” in 1980. He serves as Senior Fellow at the United Nations Foundation.  In 2010 he was elected University Professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at George Mason University.  He served as President of the Heinz Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment from 2002-2008 and was the Biodiversity Chair of the Center from 2008-2013. It was also during this time that Dr. Lovejoy served as the Chair of STAP, and he continues to inform the work of STAP in his role as Senior Adviser to the current Chair.

Dr. Lovejoy has been Assistant Secretary and Counselor to the Secretary at the Smithsonian Institution, Science Advisor to the Secretary of the Interior, U.S., and Executive Vice President of the World Wildlife Fund–U.S. He conceived the idea for the Minimum Critical Size of Ecosystems project (a joint project between the Smithsonian and Brazil’s INPA), originated the concept of debt-for-nature swaps, and is the founder of the public television series Nature. In 2001 he was awarded the prestigious Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement. Dr. Lovejoy served on science and environmental councils or committees under the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton administrations. He received his B.S. and Ph.D. (biology) degrees from Yale University.

Dr. Lovejoy is the author of over 240 papers and 8 books and is an authority on biodiversity and sustainable forest management and on climate change and its impacts on living systems. He is particularly well-known for his extensively published work on Amazonian ecology, and he currently advises more than 100 international, governmental and non-governmental organizations and is the recipient of many awards and honors.

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Ferenc L. Toth

Dr. Ferenc L. Toth received his M.Sc. (1978) and PhD (1982) in economics from the Budapest University of Economics and a second doctorate (1994) in economics from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Dr. Toth worked as Senior Energy Economist and Unit Head at the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) in Vienna, Austria between 2003 and 2015. Previously he worked as a senior scientist and project leader on climate change, sustainable development, energy, and environmental studies at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg, Austria and at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Potsdam, Germany. His current activities are also in the domains of climate change, sustainable development, energy-economy-environment linkages, and energy economics. Dr. Toth served as Coordinating Lead Author and Lead Author of several chapters in the Working Groups II and III of several Assessment Reports and Special Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

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Blake Ratner

Dr. Blake Ratner is Executive Director, Collaborating for Resilience—a cross-regional initiative working to address environmental resource competition and strengthen governance and livelihood resilience in interconnected resource domains and landscapes. The initiative works with partners to build capacity for structured, multi-stakeholder dialogue to assess the roots of resource conflict and to foster innovations that build resilient local economies, sustain critical ecosystem services, and increase social and economic well-being.

Dr. Ratner is the immediate past Director General of WorldFish, the CGIAR research institute dedicated to strengthening livelihoods and increasing food and nutrition security through fisheries and aquaculture. As chief executive, Dr. Ratner launched a six-year strategy, leveraging science to pursue transformational shifts in policies, institutional capacities and investments in these sectors, emphasizing private entrepreneurship, gender equity, and climate resilience. CGIAR, the global partnership for a food secure future, combines the efforts of over 10,000 scientists and staff working in over 60 countries across the globe.

Dr. Ratner has published widely on rights, equity, and accountability in environmental decision-making, drawing on insights from action research to inform both policy and practice. As member of the GEF Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel, he has responsibility as adviser on international waters, comprising both marine and freshwater systems, and works across focal areas on integrated approaches to achieve global environmental benefits and enhance environmental security.

Dr. Ratner has been based in Southeast Asia for 13 years (Thailand, Cambodia, and Malaysia), and has led program implementation in China, India, Laos, Myanmar, Uganda, Vietnam, and Zambia. Early in his career he led a regional program on mountains, forests, and watershed governance at the World Resources Institute, co-led an initiative on stakeholder engagement in lending programs and policy advisory services at the World Bank, and worked with social entrepreneurs in Guatemala and the Palestinian Occupied Territories. He is fluent in French, Spanish, and Khmer, and holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Sociology and a Masters in Development Administration, both from Cornell University.

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Rosie Cooney

Dr. Cooney has eighteen years of experience working across the interface of research, policy and practice in governance, conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, using a transdisciplinary perspective integrating insights from diverse disciplines and stakeholders.

Dr. Cooney leads the work (until December 2018) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group, a joint initiative of the Species Survival Commission and the Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy. This is a global network of over 300 leading experts in the sustainable use of wild resources and its contribution to livelihoods, focused on building and synthesising knowledge, developing authoritative guidance, and influencing practice and policy. She has worked for a number of leading international conservation organisations in collaboration with colleagues across the globe; acted as an independent consultant to governments, NGOs and the private sector; and carried out research and teaching at two leading Australian universities.

Her particular areas of expertise and interest are sustainable use of wild species; poaching and illegal wildlife trade; wildlife trade and CITES; biodiversity governance models; aligning rights and incentives in policy design for sustainability; indigenous and local community rights and livelihoods and their intersection with biodiversity conservation; institutions for management of common property resources; conservation conflicts; and dealing with uncertainty and the precautionary principle. She holds or has recently held a number of leadership positions at international level providing insight and advice or coordinating policy interventions and action on these issues.

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