Tropentag 2024:

Explore opportunities... for managing natural resources and a better life for all

September 11 - 13, 2024
organised by
University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU), Austria

Plenary session addresses

Opening session 11.09.2024

Anja GassnerDr. Anja Gassner
Managing Director, CIFOR Germany gGmbH; Director Europe
The Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF)
Anja has more than 25 years of experience in rural development projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America, working at the interface of livelihood development and sustainable resource management. She joined World Agroforestry in 2010 as the head of the Research Methods Unit. She led the Sentinel Landscape Initiative 2012-2016, coordinating 10 teams across eight landscapes that provided evidence of the importance of forests and trees for the livelihoods of rural communities. Since 2017 she is leading a global policy project for integrating trees-on-farms targets into national plans to support governments’ commitments to the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity. She joined the Global Landscapes Forum as science and policy advisor in 2020. Anja has a PhD in Agroecology from the University of Braunschweig, Germany, and a master’s degree in Environmental Geochemistry from the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Feras ZiadatFeras Ziadat (PhD)
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Feras Ziadat serves as a Land and Water Officer at the Food and AgricultureOrganization of the United Nations (FAO), specialized in land resource management and planning. Feras earned his PhD in GIS and remote sensing for land use planning from Cranfield University, United Kingdom, and his MSc in land management and soil conservationfrom the University of Jordan. His passion lies in advancing integrated land and water management, facilitating participatory land use planning to enhance food security, combating land degradation and desertification in the face of climate change, conductingassessments and models for wind and water erosion, promoting soil conservation, exploring soil-landscape modelling, and advocating for sustainable land management to bolster resilience and livelihoods. Before his current role, Feras held the position of SeniorScientist in land management at ICARDA and served as an Associate Professor at the University of Jordan. Currently, he leads the coordination of FAO's flagship report, "The State of the World's Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture – SOLAW," andcoordinates the update of the "Guidelines for Land Use Planning". Furthermore, he chairs the UN Coalition on Combating Sand and Dust Storms.

Lerato ThakholiLerato Thakholi (PhD)
Lecturer, Sociology of Development and Change Group, Wageningen University and Research, The Netherlands
Senior researcher, Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies, University of the Western Cape, South Africa
Current Project: Living Landscapes: disrupting, transforming and renewing conservation in Southern Africa
Lerato Thakholi is a lecturer at the Sociology of Development and Change Group at Wageningen University and Research. Her research investigates the historical development of property rights in land and environmental resources and how this has evolved in tandem with shifts in labour regimes. Empirically, she has studied this in southern Africa using ethnographic and archival methods which have enabled her to capture the impacts of conservation land use on waged and unwaged workers. Theoretically, she is inspired by critical geographers and thus begins her work from the premise that capital produces spaces and labour regimes that are integral for its expansion and intensification. Themes that have been central to her work include: racial capitalism, spatial justice and social reproduction. Lerato is also a senior researcher in the Living Landscapes in Action project at the Institute for Poverty Land and Agrarian Studies, University of the Western Cape, South Africa. The multi-year project seeks to create the basis for systemic redesign of the conservation sector in Southern Africa.

Closing session 13.09.2024

Nzula KitakaProf. Nzula Kitaka
Egerton University, Dept Biological Science, Kenya
Nzula Kitaka is an associate professor and a researcher of Aquatic/Water Science at Egerton University, Kenya. Currently she is the Vice President of Africa-UniNet; a Research consortium of African and Austrian Universities. She is the former director Board of Postgraduate Studies (BPGS), Egerton University.

Prof Kitaka has been involved in several collaborative research projects; Team Leader of the Kenyan case Study on “Trans-Path-Plan: Water Transformation Pathways Planning project”; a Transdisciplinary consortium of 16 partners from Africa, Asia, Europe & South America focusing on Water for foods & River Basins & Deltas. Funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs under DUPC 3 under Water and Development Partnership Programme, Large-scale projects from 2022 among others.

Similarly, she has been involved in several capacity development initiatives; “Three weeks Tropical Limnology Course – Influence of Activities & Processes in the Watershed on Inland Water Ecosystems” from 2004 to 2008, organized by Egerton University and Austrian Academy of Sciences Institute for Limnology, Mondsee. This course evolved to become a major regional training programme for water scientists and managers initially as Limnology of Wetland Ecosystems (LWE) from 2009 to the International Joint Degree in Limnology and Wetland Management (LWM) from 2012 between Egerton University-Kenya, BOKU, Austria and IHE-Delft former UNESCO-IHE, The Netherlands.

Prof Kitaka is a member of the Joint Management Committee (JMC) of the Joint Master’s Degree in Ecosystem Aquatic & Ecosystem and Environment Management (AEEM) between Addis Ababa University, Bahir Dar University both in Ethiopia and Egerton University, Kenya funded by Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC). She is also the Egerton University coordinator of Erasmus Students Mobility between BOKU and Egerton and a member of the steering committee of the Nile Students Exchange Project coordinated by Nile Basin Capacity Building Network (NBCBN), Egypt, IHE- Delft, and Wageningen University & Research, The Netherlands. She has been a member of several Advisory Boards; Scientific Advisory Council (SAC) member for the European Union Water Initiative European Research Area Network (ERA-Net) “SPLASH” project in water and sanitation (2007-2014), Council member of the Kenyan National Council for Science and Technology (NCST) between 2010-2013 which transformed to current “National Commision for Science & Technology (NACOSTI), a member of the National Steering Commitee for NETFUND Green Innovations Award. (NETFUND-GIA) under the Kenyan Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources in 2014. Currently Prof Kitaka is a member of the Independent Advisory Board (IAB) of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Water and Waste Infrastructure Systems Engineered for Resilience (Water-WISER) which is a consortium of University of Leeds, Loughborough University and Cranfield University in the UK since 2019 among many more.

Jennie BarronProf. Jennie Barron
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Dept. for Soil and Environment, Uppsala, Sweden
I am professor in ‘Agricultural Water Management’ (‘Jordbrukets vattenhushållning och vattenkvalitet’) at Department of Soil and Environment, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Uppsala Sweden since October 2017. My research interests are in agriculture, soil health and water management, such as soil physical properties and functions, drainage, irrigation and storage for sustainable intensification in tropical and temperate regions. I currently explore agro-climatic trends about soil physical properties in rainfed systems, to better understand rainfed systems potential in future climate and food supplies, with empirical and modelling approaches. Over the last 25 years, I have worked with interdisciplinary agricultural, water and land management-related research, policy and development in sub-Sahara Africa and Asia with explicit outcome-impact orientation. My work regularly contributes to various international and national research and policy processes incl., including EU Mission Soil projects, the Swedish Environmental Advisory Council, FAO, and CG System institute on water, agricultural development and sustainability.

Johannes M. WaldmüllerJohannes M. Waldmüller (PhD)
Department of Political Science, International Politics, University Vienna, Austria
As a post-doc at the IPW in the field of International Politics, Johannes is also directly connected to the Latin America Research Network. Previously, he was Senior Expert in Green Transition Politics at the Centre for Social Innovation, Visiting Professor at the University of Vienna (2021/2022) and Research Professor in Environmental Politics at the Universidad de Las Américas in Quito, FLACSO and Polytechnic University of Ecuador (2016-2021). He has been simultaneously active in European election observation and development cooperation in Latin America and Africa for over 10 years. Johannes was a postdoctoral fellow at New York University (2015-2016), holds a PhD in Development Studies from the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, and Master's degrees in Philosophy and International Development from the University of Vienna.

Research interests: Human Rights Politics in Andean Latin America; International Environmental and Disaster Politics; Green Transition and Sustainability Ethics, Research, Technology and Innovation as well as Development Cooperation in North-South Relations (focus on EU-LAC); Science and Diplomacy; Blue Economies and Coastal Community Management; Indigenous and Afro-Andean Well-Being.

Johanna JacobiProf. Dr. Johanna Jacobi
Department of Environmental Systems Science, Agrarökologische Transitionen, ETH Zürich, Switzerland
ETH Zürich
Johanna Jacobi leads the Agroecological Transitions research group at ETH Zürich. She studied Geography, Biology and Social Anthropology at the University of Freiburg. For her PhD studies at the University of Bern, she researched with the organic cooperative El Ceibo on the resilience of cocoa farms in Bolivia to climate change. After a postdoctoral project at the University of California, Berkeley, on agroforestry, she lived and worked in Bolivia for several years, researching food system sustainability and resilience in Latin America and Africa. Her research focuses on agroecology as a transformative science, a practice and a social movement using participatory action research, transdisciplinary methods and approaches from political ecology.

Invited speakers

Achille AssogbadjoProf. dr. ir. Achille Assogbadjo
Lab of Applied Ecology, Faculty of Agronomic Sciences, University of Abomey-Calavi, Cotonou, Benin
Achille Ephrem Assogbadjo is born on 03rd May 1974 at Savalou in the Republic of Benin. He is an agronomist and forester interested in non-timber forest products and orphan crops. He holds a PhD in Applied Biological Sciences (Ghent University, Belgium). He is a Full Professor of Conservation genetics, Forest ecology and Ethnobotany at the University of Abomey-Calavi in Benin. He doubles as a visiting Professor at Université Félix Houphouët Boigny in Côte d’Ivoire, University of Costa Rica in Costa Rica, University of Florianopolis in Brasil and Chuo University in Japan. Professor Achille Ephrem Assogbadjo has earned international renown for his outstanding contributions to biodiversity conservation and sustainable resource management across Africa. With an H index of 45 on Google Scholar, the research of Professor Assogbadjo encompasses a broad spectrum, among others, utilizing ethnobotanical and conservation genetics methodologies in ecosystems ranging from natural settings to agroforestry and intensive farming practices. As a globally recognised expert in the diversity and utilisation of the African baobab (Adansonia digitata L.), he has revealed the intricate interplay between genetics and morphology across varying climatic zones. Professor Assogbadjo's innovative approaches to managing underutilised plants revolve around community engagement and traditional knowledge, emphasising a holistic approach. To date, Professor Assogbadjo has been granted 12 International prizes and awards, including the Georg Forster Research Awards provided by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Germany), and the Young African Research Award provided by the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology (ASRT) of Egypt. He has been nominated for the honorary title “The Name in Science” by decision of the Socrates Committee (Oxford, United Kingdom), recorded in the World Register of Outstanding Scientists of the 21st Century with awarding a Medal of Frame for Contribution to World Science. Prof Assogbadjo has to date won 25 research grants and 10 regional or international research projects, participated to more than 150 international conferences and 20 training workshops in Africa, Europe, South and North America, Asia and Middle East. He has contributed to 248 peer reviewed papers and 26 books. Prof Assogbadjo is belonging the National Academy of Sciences of Benin and to more than 20 scientific networks and research groups worldwide.