Leadership Dialogue 3: Biographies

Arunabha Ghosh

Arunabha Ghosh (India)

Dr Arunabha Ghosh is an international public policy expert, author, columnist, and institution builder. He is the founder-CEO of the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, and has led CEEW to the top ranks as one of Asia's leading policy research institutions and among the world’s 20 best climate think-tanks. He played a formative role in creating the International Solar Alliance and was a founding board member of the Clean Energy Access Network. Co-author/editor of four books and with experience in 45 countries, he previously worked at Princeton, Oxford, UNDP (New York), and WTO (Geneva). Arunabha advises governments, industry, civil society and international organisations around the world. He currently serves on Government of India’s G20 Finance Track Advisory Group for India’s G20 Presidency in 2023. Most recently, the UN Secretary-General appointed him to the High-level Expert Group on the Credibility and Accountability of Net-Zero Announcements by Non-State Actors. In 2018, the UN Secretary-General nominated him to the UN Committee for Development Policy, re-nominating him this year for a second term until December 2024. In 2020, the Government of India appointed him Co-Chair of the energy, environment and climate change track for India’s Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (STIP2020). He has also been appointed the Co-Chair of the T20 Task Force on climate and energy for Indonesia’s G20 Presidency in 2022. He is co-Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Clean Air, a member of the international high-level panel of the Environment of Peace initiative, and serves on the Board of ClimateWorks Foundation. A frequent speaker and adviser to governments, industry and international organisations, he writes two monthly columns among other articles, has hosted or featured in several documentaries, and his 2019 TED Talk on air quality (Mission 80-80-80) has crossed 250,000 views. He holds a D.Phil. from Oxford.

Johan Rockström

Johan Rockström (Sweden)

Prof. Dr. Johan Rockström is the Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Professor at the Institute of Earth and Environmental Science at Potsdam University. He is an internationally recognized scientist on global sustainability issues, who led the development of the new Planetary Boundaries framework for human development in the current era of rapid global change at the Stockholm Resilience Centre. He is a leading scientist on global water resources, with about 25 years of experience from applied water research in tropical regions, and more than 150 research publications in fields ranging from applied land and water management to global sustainability. In addition to his research endeavors, which have been widely used to guide policy, Rockström provides strategic scientific guidance as a member of the European Commission’s Expert Group ‘Mission Board for Adaptation to Climate Change, including Societal Transformation’ and the ‘Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences’ and consults several governments and business networks. He acts as an advisor for sustainable development issues at noteworthy international meetings, such as the World Economic Forum, the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conferences (UNFCCC). Furthermore, he chairs or co-chairs the advisory board for the EAT Foundation, the Earth Commission, and the Earth League, is Chief Scientist of Conservation International, member of the European Investment Bank Advisory Group, and elected member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.

Catherine Odora Hoppers

Catherine Odora Hoppers (Uganda-Sweden)

Professor Hoppers is a scholar and policy specialist on International Development, education, North-South questions, disarmament, peace, and human security. She is a UNESCO expert in basic education, lifelong learning, information systems and on Science and Society; an expert in disarmament at the UN Department of Disarmament Affairs; an expert to the World Economic Forum on benefit sharing and value addition protocols; and the World Intellectual Property Organisation on traditional knowledge and community intellectual property rights. She got a Masters and PhD in International Education from Stockholm University, Sweden; was a recipient of an Honorary Doctorate in Philosophy from Orebro University (Sweden), and an Honorary Doctorate in Education from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa. In South Africa, Professor Hoppers was awarded Professor Extraordinarius in 2019 at University of South Africa (Pretoria). She held a South African Research Chair in Development Education at the University of South Africa (2008-2018) a National Chair set up by the Department of Science and Technology. Prior to that, she was a technical adviser on Indigenous Knowledge Systems to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Arts, Culture, Science and Technology (South Africa) and led the Task Team to draft the national policy on Indigenous Knowledge Systems. She is a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf, 2002), and a Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS, 2012). In July 2015, she received the Nelson Mandela Distinguished Africanist Award from HE Thabo Mbeki for her pursuit of the total liberation for the African continent through the promotion of Indigenous Knowledge Systems of Education.

Roy Steiner

Roy Steiner (Canada-USA)

Roy Steiner, PhD, is the Senior Vice President for the Food Initiative at The Rockefeller Foundation, where he leads a team focused on creating access to nourishing food for millions of people in the U.S. and around the world, and supporting scientific advances in dietary quality and regenerative food systems. Roy comes to The Rockefeller Foundation from the Omidyar Network, where he served as Director of the Intellectual Capital team since 2015, focused on helping Omidyar achieve its strategic objectives at all levels including in the agriculture space. He dedicated nearly a decade of his career to leadership positions at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where he was a founding member of the Agricultural Development initiative and helped create the Ethiopia’s Agricultural Transformation Agency, initiate the Human Centered Design Toolkit, AGRA and the Agriculture Gender program and facilitate dozens of other partnerships critical to the fight against food insecurity around the world. Before the Gates Foundation, Roy spent eight years in Africa where he was founder and CEO of Cyberplex Africa, one of the largest web development and knowledge management companies in southern Africa. Early in his career, he was an original founder and managing director of Africa Online, which pioneered the delivery of Internet service in Zimbabwe. Additionally, he was a founding member of CH2MHill’s Strategies Group and has consulted for McKinsey & Company in the areas of technology innovation, growth strategies and international development. Roy holds a PhD and a Master of Science in agricultural and biological engineering with minors in economics and international development from Cornell University, as well as two bachelor’s degrees in mechanical engineering and biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Ibrahim Thiaw

Ibrahim Thiaw (Mauritania)
Official bio

Ibrahim Thiaw Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). Before joining UNCCD, he was Special Adviser to the Secretary-General for the Sahel, where he supported the implementation of the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel (UNISS) and the development of a UN Support Plan for the Sahel. From 2013 to 2018 he served as Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). In this role, he shaped UNEP’s strategic vision and mandate, oversaw the development and implementation of the mid-term strategy, and strengthened collaboration with governments and global environmental governing bodies.  Before that, Thiaw was the Director of UNEP’s Division for Environmental Policy Implementation, and he also served as the Regional Director for West Africa, and later Acting Director General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).  Earlier in his career, Thiaw spent ten years in the Ministry of Rural Development in Mauritania. He holds an advanced degree in forestry and forest product techniques.

Christianne Zakour

Christianne Zakour (Trinidad and Tobago)

Christianne Zakour is a young environmental advocate from Trinidad and Tobago. She is the SIDS Regional Facilitator for UNEP MGCY for the period 2020-2022 as well as one of the tree-planting ambassadors for the Caribbean Philanthropic Alliance, a member of Sustainable Ocean Alliance, and a 2022 Island Innovations Fellow, as well as a volunteer in several local NGOs. Christianne has been concerned with environmental affairs her whole life, which informed her academic and volunteer decisions. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Biodiversity, Conservation, and Sustainable Development at the University of the West Indies where she is writing her thesis on youth in climate resilience. In 2021, she was selected to participate in the first Virtual Caribbean Youth Parliament on Climate Justice, hosted by the Caribbean Climate Justice Project in collaboration with the Caribbean Regional Youth Council, where she debated a 13-point resolution on climate justice for Caribbean citizens. Christianne is aiming for a career in environmental governance and sustainable development with a focus on climate justice, transparency, and peacebuilding.

Karthik Balakrishnan

Karthik Balakrishnan (USA)

Karthik Balakrishnan builds and leads teams that solve emerging technology problems at the intersection of the public and private sectors. He is President and Co-Founder of Actual, a technology platform that enables organizations to collaboratively build action plans for complex sustainability transformations. Previously, he founded Airbus’ A^3 Altiscope (now called Airbus UTM) to modernize the air traffic control system, working closely with regulators in the EU, USA, China, Singapore. He was also the CTO and co-founder of Coin (acquired by Fitbit/Google), a consumer electronics and fintech company.

Valerie Hickey

Valerie Hickey (Ireland)

Valerie Hickey is the incoming Global Director of Environment, Natural Resources and Blue Economy (ENB) at the World Bank. Valerie takes this role having worked as the manager for Advisory and Operations in the Climate Change Group, where she oversaw the implementation of the World Bank’s commitments on climate change, climate mainstreaming and climate finance, and before that the Practice Manager for ENB in Latin America and the Caribbean where she managed a cross-sectoral team that supported countries and communities on issues related to climate change, sustainable forest management, integrated conservation and development, integrated coastal zone management, fisheries, pollution management and environmental health, environmental economics and environmental risk management. Nineteen years ago, Valerie joined the World Bank as a specialist in East Asia and the Pacific, working on environment and rural development projects in Cambodia, China and Lao. Valerie has since worked across the Bank’s regions providing design and implementation support to a variety of operations, including in fragile states, where she led the Bank’s environment portfolio in Haiti following the earthquake in 2010. After joining the World Bank's global team, Valerie became chair of the blue economy, biodiversity and wildlife crime communities of practice and convened the Bank’s deep technical expertise in pursuit of providing policy advice and implementation support to accelerate the role of natural resource management in getting people out of poverty and into the middle class.  Valerie also managed the Bank’s natural resources and environment risk management portfolio across Europe and Central Asia. Before joining the World Bank, Valerie worked for World Wildlife Fund, Wildlife Conservation Society and the US National Park Service where she worked on invasive species programs in Lake Mead, the reservoir to the Hoover Dam. Valerie holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Policy from Duke University.

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