Christine E. Edwards

Conservation Geneticist at the Missouri Botanical Garden


Presentation theme: Conservation genetics

Christine Edwards is a Conservation Geneticist at the Missouri Botanical Garden, an honorary Adjunct Professor at Washington University in St. Louis and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Dr. Edwards received a B.A. degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Spanish from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1999 and a Ph.D. in Botany from the University of Florida in 2007. She held a postodoctoral position in the Department of Botany at the University of Wyoming from 2008-2011. In 2011, she joined the Environmental Laboratory of the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center as a Research Biologist. Dr. Edwards moved to the Missouri Botanical Garden in 2013 and leads the Conservation Genetics Lab and associated research program. Dr. Edwards’ research focuses on using population and quantitative genetics approaches to help understand the ecology and evolutionary biology of endangered plant species.  Her research also involves using genetic data to aid in applied in-situ and ex-situ conservation efforts.

Martin Beniston

Professor of Climate Science and Head of the Institute of Environmental Sciences at the University of Geneva.


Presentation theme: Climate change

Martin Beniston has studied atmospheric and climate physics in England (BSc and MSc), France (PhD) and at ETH-Zurich (Habilitation degree). He has worked in research Institutions in Australia, France, Canada, Germany and Switzerland, including ETH-Zurich.He was from 1992-1997 a vice-chair of one of the climate-impacts working groups of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize) as well as part-time senior scientist in climate research at ETH-Zurich. He was appointed full professor and head of the Institute of Geography at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, from 1996-2006. In 2006 he was appointed full professor at the University of Geneva and Director of its Institute for Environmental Sciences. From 2008-2014 he coordinated a major European project on climate and water ( He was also the initiator and scientific leader of the 2013 “Planet Solar Deep Water” expedition in the North Atlantic, using “Planet Solar”, the world’s largest solar-powered ship that was designed in Switzerland.
He has close to 190 publications in the international literature, and is editor or associate editor of several journals and book series with international publishers. In 2000, he was elected to the Academia Europea, the European Academy of Science.

Marie Haga

Executive Director at Global Crop Diversity Trust

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Presentation theme: Food security

Marie Haga joined the Global Crop Diversity Trust as Executive Director in March 2013. She had previously been member and Deputy Chair of the Global Crop Diversity Trust Executive Board. Ms. Haga has a background from Foreign Service as a career diplomat, from politics and private sector. She has held various positions in the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affaires including to the Norwegian Mission to the United Nations in New York and the Embassy in New Delhi. She was politically appointed and held the position as State Secretary/Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affaires 1997-1999. Ms. Haga has wide experience from politics and served as a Member of Parliament in Norway from 2001-2009. She was political advisor to the Minister for Development cooperation from 1997-1998. She was Chairperson of the Centre Party from 2003- 2008. Ms. Haga has held three Ministerial positions: Minister of Cultural Affairs (1999-2000), Minister of Local Government and Regional Development (2005-2007) and Minister of Petroleum and Energy (2007-2008). Marie Haga has held the position as Director for Renewable Energy in the Federation of Norwegian Industries (2009-2011) and as Secretary General of the Norwegian Air Ambulance (2011-2013) – the biggest voluntary organization in Norway. Ms. Haga has been on several boards, including as Chair of the Governing Board of the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA) (2009-2013) and Chair of the Governing Board of the Industrial Development Corporation of Norway (2010-2013). She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Regional Environmental Center (REC). Ms. Haga is also elected chairperson of the PRIO Board for the period 2016-2018. Marie Haga has also published three books – one novel and two on Norwegian politics.

Noëline Raondry Rakotoarisoa


Raondry Rakotoarisoa, Noeline

Presentation theme: Biocultural Heritage

With a PhD in Plant Ecology, Noëline Raondry Rakotoarisoa started her professional career in Madagascar as a lecturer-researcher in plant biology and ecology. From 1984 until 2000 she taught successively at the University of Mahajanga and the University of Antananarivo. She was the first Dean of the Department of Natural Sciences of the University of Mahajanga from 1984 to 1989. Between 1994 and 2000, she coordinated the projects of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme in Madagascar for UNESCO. From 2000 to 2003, she was Head of the UNDP Environment Unit in Madagascar before joining UNESCO / MAB in January 2004. She served successively in the Regional Offices for West Africa (Dakar) and East Africa (Nairobi).
She is a Senior Programme Specialist in the Division of Ecological and Earth Sciences and Head of the Biosphere Network and Capacity Building at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris since 2011.
She chaired the organizing committee of the international conference “What botanists for the 21st century?: Professions, Challenges and Opportunities “organized by UNESCO and its partners in September 2014 at the headquarters of the organization in Paris.