International Speakers

Ms. Patricia Espinosa

Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

Ms. Patricia Espinosa

Ms. Patricia Espinosa is the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) since 18th July 2016. Ambassador of Mexico to Germany since 2012 and from 2001 to 2002, Ms. Espinosa was Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mexico from 2006 to 2012, bringing more than 30 years of experience at highest levels in international relations, specialized in climate change, global governance, sustainable development, gender equality and protection of human rights.

As Mexico’s representative on multilateral bodies and international organizations in Vienna, Geneva and New York, Ms. Espinosa has been engaged as leader in the global challenge to address climate change and its consequences, notably as Chair of the 16th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC leading to the adoption of the Cancun Agreements. Named by the UN Secretary-General to the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post 2015 Development Agenda, she is a tireless supporter of multilateralism as a way to improve conditions for development in all regions of the world, understanding the inextricable link between the aims of the Paris Climate Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Dr Thomas E. Lovejoy

Senior Fellow, United Nations Foundation and Professor, Environmental Science and Policy department at George Mason University

Dr Thomas E. Lovejoy

Often referred to as “the Godfather of Biodiversity”, Dr. Thomas Lovejoy is an innovative and accomplished conservation biologist who in 1980 coined the term “biological diversity.” In 2010 he was elected professor in the department of environmental science and policy at George Mason University. He is senior fellow at the United Nations Foundation in Washington, DC. He also served as president of the Heinz Center from 2002 to 2008 and held the Biodiversity Chair until till 2013. He was the World Bank’s chief biodiversity advisor and lead specialist for environment for Latin America and the Caribbean. Spanning the political spectrum, Lovejoy has served on science and environmental councils under the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton administrations in USA. At the core of these many influential positions are Lovejoy’s seminal ideas, which have formed and strengthened the field of conservation biology. In the 1980s, he brought international attention to the world’s tropical rain forests, and in particular to the Brazilian Amazon, where he has worked since 1965. Lovejoy also developed the now ubiquitous “debt-for-nature” swap programs and led the Minimum Critical Size of Ecosystems project. He founded the series Nature, a popular, long-running program on public television. In 2001, Lovejoy was awarded the prestigious Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement. In 2009, he was the winner of a BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the ecology and conservation biology category. That same year, he was appointed Conservation Fellow by National Geographic. In 2012 he received the Blue Planet Prize. Lovejoy holds BS and PhD (biology) degrees from Yale University.

Dr. Tom Brooks

Head of Science and Knowledge at IUCN, Gland, Switzerland

Dr. Tom Brooks

Thomas Brooks is Head of IUCN’s Science and Knowledge Unit. He is responsible for supporting the scientific underpinning to IUCN’s knowledge products, ensuring IUCN’s scientific engagement in peer biodiversity-science-related networks, and helping to strengthen the culture of science across the union. Before joining IUCN in January 2013, Tom was Vice President for Science and Chief Scientist of NatureServe and held biodiversity science positions in The Nature Conservancy and Conservation International, as well as visiting appointments at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in the University of the Philippines Los Baños and the University of Tasmania. His field experience is primarily from tropical forest hotspots: in Kenya, Paraguay, Indonesia and the Philippines. Tom is an ornithologist by training, with a B.A. in Geography and a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. He served on the Executive Committee of the BP Conservation Leadership Programme and co-chaired the IUCN-Rio Tinto Net Positive Impact Protocol & Review Panel Team. He has a long-standing involvement with IUCN, and serves as co-chair of its joint taskforce on ‘Biodiversity and Protected Areas’, the Steering Committee of its Species Survival Commission, and its Red List Committee. He has authored 203 scientific and popular articles, including 23 in ‘Nature’ or ‘Science’. He has served on the SSC Red List Sub-Committee since 2001, on the SSC Steering Committee since 2004, and on the SSC-WCPA Joint Taskforce on ‘Biodiversity and Protected Areas’ Committee since 2009.

Dr Hans R. Herren

President, Millennium Institute, USA

Dr Hans R. Herren

Dr. Hans R. Herren is a Swiss entomologist, and farmer specialized in holistic, integrated and sustainable agriculture and food systems. He managed agriculture and bio-science research organizations and now is active at the policy development level. President and CEO of the Millennium Institute USA (2005-Present); Chief Executive and Director General of the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology Kenya (1994-2004); Director Biological Control Program and Director Plant Health Management Division of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture Nigeria (1979-1994); Coordinator of the Agriculture chapter of the UNEP Green Economy Report (2011), and of the UNEP Report on the Ecological Bases of Food Security (2012); Co-Chair of the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (2003-2009). Laureate of Right Livelihood Award 2013, World Food Prize 1995, Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement 2003 and Foreign Associate US National Academy of Sciences 1999, Member Third World Academy of Sciences 2005. He was involved in the preparations of the United Nations’ Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development with Biovision Foundation and Millennium Institute.

Renate Künast

Former Minister of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture, Germany

Renate Künast

Ms. Renate Elly Künast is a German politician of Alliance ’90/The Greens and a lawer. She was the Minister of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture in Germany from 2001 to 2005. In 2010, Künast was named by Foreign Policy magazine to its list of top global thinkers, for taking Green mainstream. She was a pioneer in the area of consumer protection, and was involved in many reformative steps in Germany including empowering consumers and their rights, supporting organic farming, and improving animal welfare. She is one of the loudest voice in the arena of organic food production, and author of books in the fields of ecology and health. She also played a key role in making Germany a leader in wind power production and the second most leading country in solar power in the world. Today Künast is often known as Berlin’s most powerful Green and is a strong voice in the fight against global climate change.

Mr. Andre Leu

International Director, Regeneration International, Queensland, Australia

Mr. Andre Leu

Mr Andre Leu is the International Director of Regeneration International, an organization that promotes food, farming and land use systems that regenerate and stabilise climate systems, the health of the planet and people, communities, culture and local economies, democracy and peace. Author of ‘Poisoning our Children’ and the ‘Myths of Safe Pesticides.’ He is the president of IFOAM – Organics International, the world change agent and umbrella body for the organic sector. Andre has a degree in Communications, with a double major in Video/TV Production and Socio-political Theory. He has post-graduate qualifications in adult education. He lectures and teaches at universities, institutions and workshops around the world. He speaks at numerous conferences, seminars, workshops as well as United Nations events on every continent. He meets with governments, industry, farmers, consumers and NGOs on the multi-functional benefits of regenerative organic agriculture. He has an extensive knowledge of farming and environmental systems across Asia, Europe, the Americas, Africa and Australasia from over 40 years of visiting and working in over 100 countries.

Prof. Hilal Elver

Special Rapporteur on Right to Food by the United Nations Human Rights Council

Prof. Hilal Elver

Ms Hilal Elver is the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food by the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2014. She is a Research Professor, and global distinguished fellow at the University of California, Law School Resnick Food Law and Policy Center. She has a law degree, a Ph.D. from the University of Ankara Law School, and SJD from the UCLA Law School. She started her teaching career at the University of Ankara Faculty of Law.  She was also appointed by the Turkish government as the founding legal advisor of the Ministry of Environment, and the General Director of Women’s Status. In 1994, she was appointed to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Chair in Environmental Diplomacy at the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies, University of Malta. Since 1996 she has been teaching at several Universities in the United States and abroad. Throughout her career, she has done extensive work with national and international human rights NGOs. Her publications have focused mainly on international environmental law, women’s rights and international human rights law. Her book, Peaceful Uses of International Rivers: Case of Euphrates and Tigris Rivers, was published in 2002. Her most recent book, The Headscarf Controversy, Secularism and Freedom of Religion published in 2012 by the Oxford University Press.

Ms. Nadia El-Hage Scialabba

Senior Officer for Environment and Sustainable Development, FAO

Ms. Nadia El-Hage Scialabba

Nadia El-Hage Scialabba is the Senior Officer for Environment and Sustainable Development of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). As the first trained ecologist of the Organization, she organized the first FAO Conference on Environment and Agriculture in 1991, which resulted in the inclusion of Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development into the Earth Summit agenda (i.e. Chapter 14 of Agenda 21). Through her carrier, Ms. El-Hage Scialabba has worked at the interface between environmental, social and economic challenges of food systems and advised member countries on the integration of environmental considerations into agricultural policy and planning. Since 1999, Ms. El-Hage Scialabba leads FAO’s programme on organic agriculture, including normative work, policy advice and technical support to member countries.

Dr. Luca Montanarella

European Commission- Joint Research Centre, Italy

Dr. Luca Montanarella

Dr. Montanarella has been working as scientific officer in the European Commission since 1992. He has been leading the Soil Data and Information Systems (SOIL Action) activities of the Joint Research Centre in support to the EU Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection and numerous other soil related policies, like the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the UNCCD, UNFCCC, CBD, among others. Dr. Montanarella is responsible for the European Soil Data Centre (ESDAC), the European Soil Information System (EUSIS) and the European Soil Bureau Network (ESBN). More recently he is in charge of supporting the establishment of the Global Soil Partnership at FAO. He is currently the Chair of the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS) of the GSP and the co-chair of the Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Land Degradation and Restoration Assessment (LDRA). Dr. Montanarella has more than 300 publications, books and reports, and has received numerous awards and memberships.

Prof. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber

Director, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Germany

Prof. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber

Dr. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber is the Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Germany. He is Professor for Theoretical Physics at the University of Potsdam, Senior Research Fellow at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, and Member of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU). He is the ex-chair of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU). As a long-standing member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which was jointly awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, Schellnhuber has been a coordinating lead author of the synthesis chapter of Working Group II of the IPCC’s Third Assessment Report. In 2002, Schellnhuber received the Royal Society’s Wolfson Research Merit Award, and in 2005, the National Academy of Sciences (US) appointed him as a member. He was awarded the German Environment Prize in 2007. In 2017, Schellnhuber was awarded the Blue Planet Prize of the Asahi Glass Foundation. One of the leading climate scientists worldwide, Dr Schellnhuber has published more than 250 scientific papers and has authored, co-authored, or edited 50 books or book chapters.

Ms. Karenna Gore

Director, Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary. 

Ms. Karenna Gore

Karenna Gore is Director of the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary. Previously, she worked in the legal center of Sanctuary for Families and as Director of Community Affairs for the Association to Benefit Children (ABC). She has also worked as a writer and is the author of Lighting the Way: Nine Women Who Changed Modern America. She is a graduate of Harvard College, Columbia Law School and Union Theological Seminary. She lives in New York City and serves on the boards of the Association to Benefit Children (ABC) and Riverkeeper.

Mr. Nnimmo Bassey

Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) and Coordinator of Oilwatch International.

Mr. Nnimmo Bassey

Mr. Bassey is director of an ecological think-tank, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) and Coordinator of Oilwatch International. He chairs the Board of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria, an organization he co-founded and led as executive director from 1993-2013. From 2008-2012 Bassey chaired Friends of the Earth International, the world’s largest grassroots environmental advocacy network with members in 74 countries. Bassey is a licensed architect and practices from Benin City, Nigeria. Bassey has authored books on the environment, architecture and poetry. He was named Time Magazine’s Hero of the Environment in 2009 and was a co-recipient of the 2010 Right Livelihood Award also known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize”. In 2012 he received the Rafto Human Rights Award.

Ms. Christine von Weizsäcker

President, European Network for Ecological Reflection and Action (ECOROPA), Germany

Ms. Christine von Weizsäcker

Christine von Weizsäcker is biologist, author, researcher/ activist, and working on technology assessment for civil society since the Mid-Seventies. She participated in the negotiations of the Rio Process on Sustainable Development since 1992, and has been nominated and appointed as the expert for the Major Group “Women” in the negotiations leading up to Rio+20. Since 1994 she has participated as an NGO representative in the negotiations of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and its Protocols: the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, the Subsidiary Protocol on Liability and Redress to the Cartagena Protocol, and the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-Sharing. She has been member of many Government and Church bodies and committees. Presently, she is president of Ecoropa, president of Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF), member of the Advisory Committee of the German Society for Human Ecology and Board member of the Federation of German Scientists. Her many publications and lectures have contributed to the scientific and public debate on nuclear technology, genetic engineering, sustainable consumption and production patterns, and, of course, addressed many aspects of the wide biodiversity agenda, where the well-being of people and biodiversity are intrinsically linked.

Dr. Saamdu Chetri

Former Executive Director of Gross National Happiness (GNH) Centre, Bhutan

Dr. Saamdu Chetri

Dr Chetri is the Visiting Faculty at IIT Kharagpur, Department of Humanities and Social Science, Rekhi Centre for Science of Happiness, Bhutan and former Executive Director of Gross National Happiness (GNH) Centre, Bhutan. He holds PhD in Commerce, Master in Commerce and Post-Graduation Certificate in HRM. He also carries 18 years’ of experiences in socio-economic development working as Bhutanese Head for bilateral development agencies at Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and Helvetas. During this period, he was a member of number of development programmes in and outside Bhutan. He has carried out many consultancies for organisations like UNDP, UNCDF, and Helvetas. His experiences and expertise range from rural development, microfinance, teaching, research, to management of projects and administration. In 2012, he was given the heroic task to develop, build and institute a Centre in Central Bhutan, Bumthang, for Gross National Happiness. Dr. Chetri has several publications to his credit and many interviews on radio, TV and magazines around the world. He has travelled to many countries in Asia, Europe, US, Australia, and Africa sharing the seeds of Gross National Happiness, the development paradigm of Bhutan.

Dr. Richard Anderson Falk

Professor emeritus of international law, Princeton University

Dr. Richard Anderson Falk

Dr Richard Anderson Falk is an American professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University. In 2008, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) appointed Falk to a six-year term as a United Nations Special Rapporteur on “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. He currently directs “Global Climate Change, Human Security, and Democracy” project. He is Chair of the Board of Directors, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, an NGO located in Santa Barbara. He is also a member of the editorial board of several journals and magazines, including the American Journal of International Law, Third World Quarterly, Globalizations, The Nation, and The Progressive. Formerly, he was for many years North American Director of the World Order Models Project. He is the author of Law, War, and Morality in the Contemporary World; The Role of Domestic Courts in the International Legal Order; Legal Order in a Violent World; The Status of Law in International Society; This Endangered Planet; A Study of Future Worlds; Human Rights and State Sovereignty; The End of World Order; Reviving the World Court; The Promise of World Order; Revolutionaries and Functionaries; Revitalizing International Law; Explorations at the Edge of Time; On Humane Governance: Toward a New Global Politics; and Law in an Emerging Global Village: A Post-Westphalian Perspective, and editor or co-editor of more than twenty books.

Dr. James P Buchanan

Professor and Executive Director, The Edward B. Brueggeman Center for Dialogue, Xavier University, USA

Dr. James P Buchanan

Dr. JP Buchanan serves as the Professor and Executive Director, The Edward B. Brueggeman Center for Dialogue, Xavier University, USA. He studied comparative religions and ethics at Yale University and the University of Chicago, where he completed a Ph.D. He also studied and taught in Paris, Moscow, Beijing and Hong Kong. Buchanan formerly held the Besl Family Chair and Professorship in ethics/religion & society at Xavier and the Carolyn Werner Gannett Chair in humanities at the Rochester Institute of Technology. He has lectured worldwide and published widely on a range of global ethical issues.