Combating drought, land degradation and desertification
for poverty reduction and sustainable development

The contribution of science, technology, traditional knowledge and practices 

9-12 march 2015, Cancún, Mexico

Combating drought, land degradation and desertification for poverty reduction and sustainable development

The contribution of science, technology, traditional knowledge and practices 

9-12 march 2015, Cancún, Mexico


Scientific Advisory Committee


Mariam AKHTAR-SCHUSTER is a German scientist currently working for the non-governmental organization DesertNet International, as the coordinator of the advisory board.      

She holds a Ph.D. in physical geography. Her research work has focused on the potential of traditional knowledge and resources use patterns for the development of more sustainable land use systems in the Sahel and in Southern Africa. She has been involved in training local communities in the long-term scientific monitoring of natural rangelands, and worked with local authorities to develop pathways to combat the further degradation of rangelands and enhance the economic resilience of local communities. 

Cristobal Felix DIAZ MOREJON

Cristobal Felix DIAZ MOREJON is an environmental specialist working for the Environmental Directorate of the Cuban Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment.      

He holds a Ph.D. in the management of water resources and the environment. He has carried out research and teaching activities in the field of water resources management (including drought and floods) at the Agricultural University of Havana and the Technical University of Havana in Cuba. He has been involved in several working groups in the framework of the UNFCCC, the CBD and the UNCCD. 

Gordana GRUJIC

Gordana GRUJIC is an environmental specialist from Serbia, holding a M.Sc. in geochemistry. She has carried out several expertise duties for the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Energy and Mining in Serbia.      

She has also been involved in the implementation in Serbia and in the Balkans of several environmental projects funded by international organizations. She also acted as a national UNCCD focal point for Serbia and Montenegro, initiating and coordinating the process of ratification of the UNCCD in cooperation with all concerned ministries, governmental bodies and stakeholders (scientific institutions and non-governmental organizations). 


Ashot KHOETSYAN is a professor at the Department of physical geography and hydrometeorology of the Yerevan State University and Armenian State Pedagogical University in Armenia.      

He is a doctor of science in geography and ecology, academician of International Ecological Academy and vice-president of Armenian Geographic Society. He has been actively involved in the development and implementation of the strategy to combat desertification defined by the Ministry of nature protection of the Republic of Armenia. 

William Albert PAYNE

William Albert PAYNE is Dean and Professor at the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology, and Natural Resources and Director of the Nevada Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of Nevada, Reno, USA.     

He holds a Ph.D. in soil science. Previously, he has served as the Director of the CGIAR Research Program on Drylands Systems, hosted by the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), based in Lebanon; and Assistant Director for Research of the N.E. Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture at Texas A&M University, USA. During his career as a plant physiologist and soil scientist, he has led several research projects related to combating desertification, land degradation and drought.


Graham Paul VON MALTITZ is a senior researcher, completing a Ph.D. in ecology, working for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research of South Africa (CSIR).      

His research works have been focusing on the interface between human development and natural resources management, with a particular focus on areas in Africa of customary land tenure. As such, he has long term field experience with rural communities, looking at using sustainable land management as a means to improving local livelihoods. 

Miriam DIAZ

Miriam DIAZ is a full emeritus professor at the National Experimental University Francisco de Miranda in Venezuela, Center for Ecology and Arid Lands.      

She holds a Ph.D. in tropical ecology of arid and semi-arid areas. She has dedicated her research and teaching activities to the combat against desertification, by proposing alternative models for sustainable agroforestry, based on native and introduced succulent crops and native tree species. In all of this work, the incorporation of traditional knowledge and experiences of native communities have been the key factor for successful applications, not only in Venezuela but also in other countries with similar problems. 


Patrice DJAMEN NANA is a scientist from Cameroon, working in Burkina Faso for the non-government organization African Tillage Network, as the sub-regional coordinator for West and Central Africa.      

He holds a Ph.D. in agriculture and sustainable development. His work promotes the development of innovative techniques and approaches for the sustainable management of lands as a means to improve the livelihood of smallholder farmers in West and Central Africa. The generation of informative and operational knowledge, training of relevant stakeholders and collective learning on conservation agriculture and climate-smart farming practices are at the heart of his activities. 

Sahibzada Irfanullah KHAN

Sahibzada Irfanullah KHAN is the Provincial Project Coordinator for the Sustainable Land Management Program (SLMP) to combat land degradation and desertification in Pakistan.      

This program is implemented by the Planning and Development Department, and Ministry of Environment, Government of Pakistan. He holds an M.Sc. in forestry ,and Post Graduate Diploma in Disaster Risk Management. He has work experience of more than 17 years working for sustainable resource management, dryland management, rural development and institutional development. He is Fellow of the LEAD International from Pakistan and also member of the IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management. 


Pietro LAUREANO is the founder and director of Ipogea, an organization based in Italy, which is recognized by the European Union as possessing the highest degree of excellence in the protection and enhancement of European Cultural Heritage, involved in the management of multilateral activities, in programs for developing countries and in co-ordination of multidisciplinary groups of international experts.      

He is also the founder and President of the International Traditional Knowledge Institute, which is currently building a worldwide database on traditional knowledge and practices of success. He has been leading many projects dealing with the innovative use of traditional techniques to mitigate the effects of climate change. 


Mélanie REQUIER-DESJARDINS is a French scientific administrator at the International Center for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM), an intergovernmental organization founded in 1962 now gathering thirteen member states.      

She holds a Ph.D. in economics of the environment and natural resources, and is conducting research and teaching activities at the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Montpellier, one of the four CIHEAM centers, in the field of sustainable rural development, the multifunctional role of agriculture, environmental economic assessment. She is also a member of the French Scientific Committee about Desertification (CSFD). 


Tao WANG is working for the Chinese Academy of Sciences, as the Director of the Key Laboratory of Desert and Desertification and as Research Professor at the Cold and Arid Regions Environmental & Engineering Research Institute.      

He holds a Ph.D. in physical geography and desert environment. Through the research activities for 30 years, he has made significant contributions for understanding and combating the process of desertification in China. He is also involved in the board of many associations linked with desert and desertification research, training and development.