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Dignitaries addressing the High Level Segment


Heads of State and Royalty

His Excellency Issoufou Mahamadou

His Excellency Issoufou Mahamadou

President of the Republic Of Niger

HE Issoufou Mahamadou was born in 1952 in the district of Illela located in the region of Tahoua (Niger).  He was elected as the President of the Republic of Niger on 7 April 2011 for a five-year term. 

HE Issoufou Mahamadou obtained his Bachelor of Science Degree in Mathematics from the University of Niamey in 1975, his Masters Degree in Sciences (option: Mathematics and Basic Application) from the University of Montpellier (France) in 1976 and his Pre Doctoral Degree in Probability and Statistics University of Paris VI Jussieux of Paris (France) in 1977.  He obtained a Civil Engineering Degree in Mining from the National Higher School of Mining Studies of St Etienne (France) in 1979.

HE Issoufou Mahamadou served as the Director of Mining Department at the Ministry of Mine and Industry.of Niger from 1980 to 1985 and served the Societe des Mines de l'air (SOMAIR) from 1985 to 1992 in different capacities as Secretary General, Director of Exploitations Department and Technical Director. 

HE Issoufou Mahamadou was elected several times as National deputy by the constituency of Tahoua  in Niger (1993,1995, 2004 and in 2011). He served as the President of the National Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS-Tarraya), from December 1990 to March 2011   and served as the Leader of the Opposition Party in the National Assembly from 1999 to 2009.

HE Issoufou Mahamadou served as the Prime Minister of the Republic of Niger from 17 April 1993 to 28 September 1994 and as the Chairman of the National Assembly from 18 February 1995 to 27 January 1996.  He was elected as the President of the Republic of Niger on 7 April 2011.

HE Issoufou Mahamadou received the Award of Grand Cross of the National Order of Niger in April 2011.

HRH the Prince of Orange, Chair of UNSGAB

HRH the Prince of Orange, Chair of UNSGAB

HRH the Prince of Orange has been playing prominent role in raising awareness and galvanizing actions in international efforts to improve global water and sanitation situation, since he took the post of Patron of Global Water Partnership in 1998. He chaired 2nd World Water Forum in the Hague in March 2000, a pivotal event that helped world's attention drawn to the need to change "business as usual" on water and sanitation management into more coherent, integrated approach. In 2002, he was appointed as Member of the Panel of Eminent Persons convened at the request of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to issue recommendations for the UN conference on sustainable development in Johannesburg. The Prince served on the Panel as an expert on water management. In 2006 the Prince was appointed by the Secretary-General as chair of the UN Secretary-General's Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB). Since then he has advocated for higher political priority to be given to water and sanitation challenges.  He has recently promoted the need for water and sanitation to be reflected in the preparation of the post-2015 development framework.


Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Federal Republic of Nigeria

Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Federal Republic of Nigeria

Dr. Adesina a distinguished agricultural development expert with 24 years of experience in developing and managing successful agricultural programs across Africa. He graduated with Bachelors in Agricultural Economics with First Class Honors from the University of Ife, Nigeria (1981), where he was the first student to be awarded this distinction by the university. He obtained his PhD (Agricultural Economics) in 1988 from Purdue University, USA where he won the Outstanding PhD Thesis for his research work.
Until his appointment as the Honourable Minister of Agriculture in 2010, he was the Vice President (Policy & Partnerships) for the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). Dr. Adesina has held senior leadership positions in some of the foremost agricultural institutions in the world. He was Principal Economist and Social Science Coordinator for the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (1995-1998), Principal Economist and Coordinator of the West Africa Rice Economics Task Force at the West Africa Rice Development Association (1990-1995), and Assistant Principal Economist at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics. He was Associate Director (Food Security) at the Rockefeller Foundation where he worked for a decade (1998-2008) in senior leadership positions, including as Regional Office Director and Representative for Southern Africa.

He has published extensively and served on Editorial Board of several leading journals. He was the President of the African Association of Agricultural Economists from 2008-2010. He has received several global awards for his leadership and work in agriculture. In 2007 he was awarded the prestigious YARA Prize in Oslo, Norway for his leadership in pioneering innovative approaches for improving access of farmers in Africa to agricultural inputs. He was awarded the Borlaug CAST Award in 2010 by the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, USA, for his global leadership on agricultural science and technology. He received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Purdue University in 2008, and the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Obafemi Awolowo University in 2009. He was awarded Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by Franklin and Marshall College, USA, in 2010, for his global leadership on agriculture and improving the lives and livelihoods of the poor.

He was appointed by the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon as one of the 17 global leaders to spearhead the Millennium Development Goals. His passion is to use agriculture to end hunger, create wealth and jobs and drive equitable economic growth in Africa to lift millions out of poverty.

He has brought that passion to his native home of Nigeria, in his position as the Federal Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, where he is spearheading major reforms to transform Nigerian agriculture. Dr. Adesina has aggressively implemented bold policy reforms, ended decades of corruption in the fertilizer sector and pursued innovative agricultural investment programs to expand opportunities for the private sector to add value to crops produced in Nigeria. His passionate commitment is driving a new wave of change in agriculture in Nigeria, moving it away from a development program into a business, to reduce dependency on food imports, generate wealth and create jobs.

The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, recently conferred on him the second highest National Honor (Commander of the Order of Niger) for his outstanding service to his country over the last one year. In November 2012, Dr. Adesina was named as one of the 100 most influential Africans by The New African Magazine. He is married to Grace Oluyemisi Adesina, and they have two sons.

Honourable Mass Axi Gye

Honourable Mass Axi Gye
Minister of Fisheries and Water Resources – The Gambia

Honourable Mass Axi GYE was appointed Minister of Fisheries and Water Resources in October 2012. Prior to this appointment, Honourable GYE was The Gambia’s High Commissioner (Ambassador) to the Republic of Senegal.

Mr. Gye holds a Diploma in Professional Development in Public Management with specialization in Performance Auditing and Public Financial Management from the University of Connecticut, USA. He worked with the Gambia Ports Authority, rising from Audit Clerk in 1978 to Senior Auditor before taking up the appointment of Minister of Youths and Sports in 2008.

Mr. Gye loves sports and football in particular, where he has served in various capacities, from Trainer of the National Football Squad to being Chairman of the Technical Committee. He served as 2nd Vice President of the Gambia Football Association (GFA) and was recently appointed by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) as Match Commissioner.  

Dr. David Korenfeld Federman

Dr. David Korenfeld Federman

Dr. David Korenfeld Federmanis currently the Chairman of the National Water Commission in Mexico. He earned his B.A. (Law), Master and Ph.D. in Public Administration from Anahuac University (Mexico). He was the Mayor of Huixquilucan Municipality (2003-2005) and Water & Public Works Ministry of the State of Mexico (2005-2011).

Dr. Korenfeld has a broad experience within the Water Sector; he has held different chief executive officer positions in several Water organizations from the public and private sectors in Mexico. He has also been a member of the American Water Works Association and the World Water Council Board of Governors, and has participated as editor, coordinator and author of different books regarding Water issues and protection.

Due to his career and achievements in the Water field, he has been honored with the “Netzahualcoyotl” Prize, granted by the Civil Engineering College of the State of Mexico, and the George Warren Fuller Prize, awarded by the American Water Works Association (2009).

Heads of UN Agencies and International Organizations

Ambassador William Lacy Swing, Director General, International Organization for Migration (IOM)

Ambassador William Lacy Swing, Director General, International Organization for Migration (IOM)

On 18 June 2008, Ambassador William Lacy Swing of the United States was elected as the Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). He assumed his post on 1 October 2008.

From May 2003 till January 2008, as UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ambassador Swing successfully led all facets of the largest UN peacekeeping operation in history.

Before his appointment to the DRC and since November 2001, Ambassador Swing was the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Western Sahara and Chief of Mission, United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).

William Lacy Swing was a career member of the Senior Foreign Service of the Department of State, (USA). His diplomatic career has spanned some forty years including five postings as Ambassador to African countries – South Africa, Nigeria, Liberia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (ex-Zaire), and the former People’s Republic of the Congo (Congo Brazzaville) and Haiti.

William Lacy Swing was named Ambassador to the Republic of South Africa in 1989, shortly before Nelson Mandela’s release from prison. The posting was a culminating experience for William Lacy Swing, who began his diplomatic career twenty-six years before in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, 1963 to 1966. As a Fellow at Harvard University from 1976 to 1977, William Lacy Swing published a monograph, U.S. African Policy and the Case of South Africa: Dilemmas and Priorities. Mr. Swing was Deputy Director for Central African Affairs and Country Officer for Zaire at the Department of State, 1977-79. He was Ambassador to the People’s Republic of the Congo 1979-1981 and Ambassador to Liberia, 1981-85. Between 1985-89, he occupied senior positions in the Department of State, Washington, DC. In 1992, William Lacy Swing became Ambassador to Nigeria, and from 1993-98, served as Ambassador to Haiti.

William Lacy Swing was born in 1934 in Lexington, North Carolina. He graduated from Catawba College (BA 1956) in North Carolina, and Yale University (BD, 1960) and did postgraduate studies at Tuebingen University, Germany. On 26 June 2012, Ambassador Swing received the American Foreign Service Association Award for Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy.

Reza Ardakanian

Reza Ardakanian 

Reza Ardakanian (*1958 in Iran) holds a PhD in water resources management. He is a faculty member of Sharif University of Technology (Tehran, Iran) and a former Deputy Minister for Water Affairs in the Ministry of Energy of Iran.

Dr. Ardakanian sat on the Boards of various international organizations such as UNESCO-IHP, UNESCO-IHE, the International Hydropower Association and UNU-EHS.

Since 2007 he is serving UN-Water as Founding Director of the UN-Water Decade Programme on Capacity Development (UNW-DPC), and in October 2012 he was appointed as the Founding Director of the new United Nations University Institute for Integrated Management of Material Fluxes and of Resources (UNU-FLORES) in Dresden.

Prof. Anantha Duraiappah

Prof. Anantha Duraiappah

Prof. Anantha Duraiappah is Executive Director of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (UNU-IHDP). He is an experienced environmental-development economist whose work largely focuses on the equity of access and use of ecosystem services. In his  previous post as Chief of the Ecosystem Services and Economics Unit of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Prof. Duraiappah helped to initiate the Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and has since then played a pivotal role in its recent approval. He additionally served on the scientific committee of DIVERSITAS, one of the Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP) partners. He has authored two books on environment and international aid and development, as well as articles in several internationally recognized journals. Prof. Duraiappah continues to successfully incorporate his expertise in science-policy interaction, economics, development and ecosystem services into his work at IHDP.

Mahmoud El Solh

Dr Mahmoud El Solh

Dr Mahmoud El Solh, Director General of ICARDA, holds a PhD in Genetics from the University of California, Davis, USA, and has an impressive record of scientific publications. He has more than 30 years’ experience international agriculture research and development in developing countries particularly in dry areas. He started his professional career in the Ford Foundation starting in 1972, then with ICARDA, the American University of Beirut, and FAO, before assuming the position of Director General of ICARDA. He in-depth knowledge of the needs and aspirations of the national agricultural research and development systems in non-tropical dry areas,  particularly in West, Central and South Asia and North and East Africa. Throughout his career his activities have focused on contributing to food security, alleviating poverty, and developing sustainable agricultural research systems; planning, implementation, and evaluation of agricultural research projects for research and development; institutional and human resource capacity development; and promoting north-south and south-south cooperation. Dr. El Solh is the author of more than 120 publications/papers and articles including books and chapters of books. His contribution to agricultural research and development has been recognized through several prestigious awards and honors.

Luc Gnacadja

Luc Gnacadja

Luc Gnacadja is the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)

Since becoming Executive Secretary of the UNCCD in October 2007, Mr. Gnacadja has dedicated himself to mobilizing political will for the fight against desertification, land degradation and to mitigate the effects of drought. As a passionate advocate for land and soil, he is calling for a goal of sustainable land use for all and by all along with a target of Zero Net Land Degradation, to secure the continuing availability of healthy and productive land for present and future generations.

Born in Benin, he is an architect by profession.

Before taking up his present position, he served as Minister of Environment, Housing and Urban Development of Benin from 1999 to 2005. He gained firsthand knowledge of the UNCCD process, over

these years, in his capacity as Head of Delegation to the Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD, to UNFCCC and to CBD.

In March 2003 he was honored with the "2002 Green Award" in Washington by the World Bank. 

Heads of UN Agencies and International Organizations

José Graziano da Silva

José Graziano da Silva

Dr José Graziano da Silva of Brazil was elected Director-General of FAO by the Organization’s Conference of Member nations on 26 June 2011. His term runs from 1 January 2012 to 31 July 2015.

In 2001 he led the team that designed Brazil’s "Zero Hunger" (Fome Zero) programme. In 2003, he was charged with its implementation by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva who named him Special Minister of Food Security and the Fight against Hunger. Between 2003 and 2010, the “Zero Hunger” programme helped lift 28 million people out of extreme poverty. It also inspired a new set of public policies aimed at promoting economic and social development in Brazil.

Prior to his election in June 2011 as FAO’s eighth Director-General, Graziano da Silva headed the Organization’s regional office for Latin America and the Caribbean between 2006 and 2011. In that role, he actively supported the “Hunger-Free Latin America and the Caribbean Initiative”, which made the region the first in the world to commit to totally eradicating hunger by 2025, emphasizing the importance of family farming, rural development and the strengthening of rural institutions to guarantee food security.

In addition, Graziano da Silva has encouraged joint initiatives with other United Nations agencies, supported South-South cooperation, and opened up the Regional Office to civil society. He actively participated in FAO’s internal reform process, with a special emphasis on decentralization.

An academic by training, Graziano da Silva started teaching at Brazil’s State University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in 1978. He also chaired the Master’s and Doctoral Programme in Economic Development and Environment of UNICAMP’s Institute of Economics and supervised 26 doctoral theses and 13 Master dissertations.  He has written and edited 26 books on rural development, food security, and agrarian economics.

Graziano da Silva holds a Bachelor's Degree in Agronomy and a Master's Degree in Rural Economics and Sociology from the University of São Paulo (USP) and a Ph.D. in Economic Sciences from the State University of Campinas. In addition, he has two post-Doctorate degrees in Latin American Studies (University College London) and Environmental Studies (University of California - Santa Cruz).

Brazilian and Italian by nationality, Graziano da Silva speaks English, Portuguese and Spanish. He was born on November 17, 1949. He is married to Paola Ligasacchi and has two children and two grandchildren.

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picture ©FAO/Alessandra Benedetti.

Dr Ania Grobicki

Dr Ania Grobicki - Executive Secretary Global Water Partnership

Dr Ania Grobicki became Global Water Partnership Executive Secretary in March 2009. Before joining GWP, Dr. Grobicki was the Head of Secretariat within the World Health Organization established to prepare for the 2008 Global Ministerial Forum on Research for Health.

Dr. Grobicki has spent most of her working life establishing and growing a range of organizations, and working on water-related issues at the sub-national, national and international levels. For 10 years she managed a consulting firm in the UK and South Africa, where she developed projects on water supply, wastewater reuse, water quality, and integrated catchment management issues as well as water law reform. She has worked on the water needs of industry, energy, agriculture, health and the environment.

Dr. Grobicki has worked extensively with various NGOs and UN agencies and is a prolific writer of books and papers, including for the 2nd World Water Development Report. She was the first Coordinator for the CGIAR’s Challenge Programme on Water and Food (now renamed Water, Land and Ecosystems)  and has lectured at universities in South Africa and the UK. Dr. Grobicki has a BA in Economics, a BSc in Chemical Engineering and a PhD in Biotechnology from Imperial College, London.

Michel Jarraud 

Michel Jarraud

Michel Jarraud has been the Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization since 2004.

Mr Jarraud was appointed by the Fourteenth World Meteorological Congress and took up the post on 1 January 2004. He was re-appointed by the Fifteenth World Meteorological Congress for a second four-year term starting 1 January 2008, and by the Sixteenth World Meteorological Congress for a third and final four-year term, which commenced on 1 January 2012.

In 2012 he also assumed the Chair of UN-Water, the inter-agency mechanism that coordinates and strengthens the work of United Nations organizations and programmes on all issues relating to fresh water.

Before joining the WMO Secretariat as Deputy Secretary-General in January 1995, Mr Jarraud devoted part of his career to the internationally renowned European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). He was appointed Deputy Director of the Centre in 1991, having been Director of the Operational Department since 1990. From June 1978 to December 1985, he was a researcher in numerical weather prediction at ECMWF. Mr Jarraud started his career with the French National Meteorological Service, Météo-France, as a researcher (September 1976-May 1978). He joined Météo-France again in January 1986 as Director of the Weather Forecasting Department, until December 1989.

Mr Jarraud is a scientist and a meteorologist with degrees from the prestigious French Ecole Polytechnique and the Ecole de la Météorologie Nationale. He is a fellow of the American Meteorological Society (USA), a member of the Société Météorologique de France, the Royal Meteorological Society (United Kingdom) and the African Meteorological Society, as well as an Honorary Member of the Chinese Meteorological Society and the Cuban Meteorological Society.

Mr Jarraud is fluent in French and English. He was born in 1952 in Châtillon-sur-Indre, France. He is married and is the father of two children.

Mahboub Maalim, Executive Secretary of IGAD

Mahboub Maalim, Executive Secretary of IGAD

A registered Engineer with The Kenya Engineers’ Registration Board and a member of the Institute of Engineers of Kenya, Engineer Maalim is also an Associate member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Eng. Maalim earned his M.Sc in Civil Engineering in 1992 at Texas A& I University in USA where he had previously acquired his BSc degree in Civil Engineering. Before going to study in the USA he  trained on water Technology for two years in the Kenya Water Institute, completing in 1978. He spent one year, from June 1978 to June 1979 as an inspector of water responsible for water supplies, planning, construction, and operation and maintenance in Mandera, Kenya, before being promoted to the position of District Water Engineer. In which position he served in three of the major towns in Kenya namely: Mandera, Mombasa and Garissa consecutively between 1979 and 1994.

After earning his M.Sc in Civil Engineering, Eng. Maalim's career quickly changed over the next six years to executive level and expanded far beyond that of engineering field to become coordinator in multinational projects among them World Banks' credit financed project known as: The drought Recovery Project of Wajir District in Kenya for two years from 1994 to 1996 that gave him experience in planning, budgeting, financing and implementing multi-sectoral development programmes. On completion of the World Bank project he oversaw the success of yet another major project as a deputy National Project Coordinator and National coordinator, Arid Lands Resource Management Project for another three years between 1997 and 2000.

Eng. Maalim' s career accelerated in the next five years to another level of senior civil servant position of Permanent Secretary (PS) in two of Kenya's Ministries; Permanent Secretary Ministry of State for Special Programs, Office of The President from July 2004 to August 2005 and later Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Water and Irrigation a position he held till his prestigious appointment to become the first Kenyan to hold the office of The Executive Secretary for the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) since 2008.

Throughout it all Eng. Maalim has repeatedly proven his ability to lead through diverse and challenging situations that have led to him winning some of the most prestigious National and International awards and Honors, which includes: The order of Grand Warrior of Kenya (OGWWK) and Chief of Burning Spear of Kenya (CBS - Kenya). As an excellent agent of change and with a documented track record of accomplishments, he has equally been recognized by the academic institutions in the USA and he is in The dean’s list; Fall of 1987 St. Edwards University Austin Texas (USA), in the Who is Who among International Students in American Colleges and Universities, 1988/89 and 1989/90 and also in the Who is Who among students in American Colleges and Universities, 1990-1991.

With vast executive, management and administrative experience and well publicized career, Eng. Maalim has equally been entrusted with activities that he has undertaken in collaboration with partners across the board among them; USAID Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET), The United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Drought emergency Project, Violence Reduction in Pastoralist Conflicts in Garissa District, Collaboration with Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) food security, UNICEF's Nutrition Survey and OXFAM -GB's formation of important structures. 

Ms. Margareta Wahlström

Ms. Margareta Wahlström

Ms. Margareta Wahlström is the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction. She has a career spanning of more than 30 years in international disaster response and humanitarian work, during which she has held wide range of posts in the humanitarian and international sphere and has either worked in or undertaken missions to more than 100 countries, including many across the Middle East and North Africa, Southeast Asia, Southern Africa and Latin America.

Her latest appointment as the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction also carries responsibility direct to the UN Secretary-General for the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action. Prior to this, Ms. Wahlström has served the United Nations as the Executive Secretary to the United Nations Secretary-General’s Panel on the Safety and Security of UN Staff and Premises under the Chairmanship of Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi.

From 2002 – 2004, Ms. Wahlström was the Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Assistant Secretary-General in the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, UN New York (OCHA). During the initial phase of the international response to the Indian Ocean Tsunami, Ms. Wahlström served as the Secretary General’s Special Coordinator for the Response Coordination.  From June 2002 until June 2004, she also served the UN Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) as Deputy Special Representative to the Secretary-General Relief, Rehabilitation & Recovery, and as Chief of Staff to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General.

During the period 1989 – 2000, Ms. Wahlström worked for the Geneva-based International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies as Under-Secretary-General for the Disaster Response and Operations Coordination division and prior to this, as Deputy Director Operations.

Ms. Wahlström has an academic basis of economic history, political science, social anthropology, archaeology and philosophy of science.




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