Plenary Description

2015 will be a decisive year to take the necessary steps for the transformation to sustainability. The United Nations General Assembly is set to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to chart the way forward for the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

To kick off the Global Soil Week 2015, the Opening Plenary will demonstrate why and how soils must be perceived as the substance of transformation. How we manage our soils is central to the achievement of several SDGs. Land and soil management will determine their implementation or at least strike a balance between their inherent demands. Soil is a non-renewable and increasingly scarce resource. It needs to be managed wisely in order to achieve environmental sustainability and to preserve the basis for people´s lives today and in the future. Social sustainability requires equitable access to soil as a prerequisite for food security and the eradication of extreme poverty. Hence, sustainable management of soils is needed to ensure: that we do not exceed our planetary boundaries and ensure a life in dignity for everyone. Soil is the substance of transformation.

This message of the Global Soil Week 2015 will be conveyed by an inspiring group of speakers. The session will start with the premiere of our second soil film followed by a keynote address by Prof Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director of the IASS. He will then be joined by an opening panel. Our guest of honour, his Excellency Minister Aroldo Cedraz, will conclude the session and build the bridge from the Global Soil Week 2013 to the Brazilian Soil Governance Seminar and the Global Soil Week 2015.

toepferKlaus Töpfer
Executive Director, IASS – Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (Germany)

Klaus Töpfer is currently Executive Director of the Institute for Advanced Sustainable Studies (IASS) in Potsdam. From 1987 to 1998 he was Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety
and subsequently Minister of Regional Planning, Building and Urban Development. He held the position of Executive Director of UNEP in Nairobi until 2006.

barbutMonique Barbut
Executive Secretary, UNCCD – United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (Germany)

Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), has over 30 years’ experience in sustainable development, international diplomacy, governance and finance. From 2006 to 2012, she was Chief Executive Officer and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and World Bank Vice President. Prior to that she was a UNEP director, preceding which she oversaw diverse functions in the French Aid system, ranging from aid evaluation to serving as Executive Director of Agence Française de Dévéloppement. She played a key role in the 1992 Rio Earth Summit finance negotiations and GEF’s
creation thereafter.

islamSirajul Islam
Programme Head, Agriculture and Food Security Programme, BRAC – Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (Bangladesh)

Sirajul Islam has a PhD in Agronomy from Bangladesh Agricultural University. He is now Programme Head of BRAC’s, Agriculture and Food Security Programme. His work is focused on planning and implementing BRAC’s overall agriculture and food security programme, conducting innovative adaptive research on different crops, rice-based agricultural and aquaculture technology validation and dissemination among farmers field for sustainable intensification of rice-based cropping and aquatic agricultural systems.

simelJoseph Ole Simel
Executive Director, MPIDO – Mainyoito Pastoralist Integrated Development Organization (Kenya)

Joseph Ole Simel has been a forefront activist for Indigenous Peoples Human Rights for over 20 years, especially on land and natural resources. He is a board member of several networks and many organizations locally
and internationally, such as board member of the UNDP Civil Society Advisory Committee. Joseph Ole Simel was the African Representative for the Indigenous Peoples Global Summit on climate change and is currently a member of the Global Coordinating Group (GCG) representing the Africa Region for the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.

bucellaPia Bucella
Director, Directorate B – Natural Capital, DG Environment, European Commission (Belgium)

Pia Bucella’s current responsibilities include the development and implementation of the strategy and policies that serve to protect and enhance biodiversity, and to promote better understanding of the value of biodiversity to our society through the Natura 2000 network (Habitat and Birds Directives). She is also involved in the integration and development of strategies and policies for agriculture, forestry, soil and nitrates. Her previous tasks in the Environment Department included the management of the Directorate of Legal Affairs and Environmental Integration in the cohesion policy as well as the TENs. She was also responsible for developing the European disaster preparedness and response system.

cedrazMinister Aroldo Cedraz
Minister of the Federal Court of Accounts (Brazil)

Since 2007, Aroldo Cedraz is the Minister of the Brazilian Federal Court of Accounts and its President since January this year. He held four mandates as Federal Deputy of the State of Bahia during the years 1991 to 2007. As a congressman, Aroldo Cedraz favoured the areas of health, education, defense, science and technology, external relations and mines and energy. He left his parliamentary mandate to hold the office of Industry, Commerce and Mining Secretary of Bahia State from 2000 to 2002. On this occasion, he was also President of Ford Executive Group. Other public offices held are Secretary of Water Supply and Irrigation Resources of Bahia State, Chief Secretary of the City of Salvador Civil House and President of Rural Engineering Company of Bahia State.

achouriMoujahed Achouri
Moujahed Achouri, Director, Land and Water Division, FAO – Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (Italy)

Moujahed Achouri, a national of Tunisia, is a specialist in soil and water conservation as well as in watershed management sciences, with a broad coverage of technical and socio-economic related sciences and disciplines. He started his professional career in 1982 in the Forestry Department of the Ministry of Agriculture in Tunisia. His experience with International Organizations started in 1988 when he served for FAO/UNDP as National Chief Technical Advisor. He joined FAO in 1995 and since then has worked in Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Egypt and Italy. Before joining the Land and Water Division Moujahed Achouri served in Cairo as Deputy Regional Representative for the Near East and as Head of the Multi-disciplinary Team for Oriental Near East and FAO Representative in Egypt. He holds a B.Sc. in Rural Engineering and Soil and Water Conservation from the Institut National Agronomique de Tunis, Tunisia, and an M.Sc. in Watershed Management Sciences from Utah State University, USA.

L_Ivonne Lobos AlvaIvonne Lobos Alva
Research Associate Global Soil Forum and Renewable Resources and the SDGs Forum, IASS – Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (Germany)

Ivonne Lobos Alva is an environmental engineer from Guatemala with a focus on agroecology and environmental governance. Her work focuses on the development of strategies to address soil and land degradation at the global level. She currently advocates the protection of soil and land resources in the United Nations negotiation process to develop universal sustainable development goals. Prior to joining the IASS, she had over seven years of work experience with international development organizations such as the Canadian International Development Agency and the European Commission in rural development, disaster risk reduction and natural resource management projects.