Currently Browsing Alumni of: 2007

Valentina Antonella Lira


Country: CHILE




Nowadays I’m the Head of Forestry Conservation & Development Program of the Forestry Area of Fundación Chile ( Our mission as an area is to develop high-impact innovations in sustainable forest-based products and services and nature tourism through research, management and technology transfer.

I have been working at my present job for 2 and a half years.

Before this, I used to work in a forest company. The second largest forest company in Chile. My responsibilities there as a Research and Development Engineer were mainly based in the analysis of the best options to optimize the process between the forest and the industrial plants.

My program aims to generate models of sustainable use for the forest resource, by increasing the value supply of wood products and forest-based services. This is achieved with complementary elements like non-wood forest products (NWFP) , nature services and the generation of opportunities in the carbon market and forest biomass.

As part of my work I’m also Technical Secretariat of the Chilean System for Sustainable Forest Management Certification CERTFORCHILE (, a private corporation that takes in charge the administration and periodic update of the forest sustainability standards, promote forest sustainability by establishing the bases of a participative process and to seek the acceptable and accepted use, maintenance, enrichment and preservation of Chile’s forest resources potential.

I also coordinate the international projects of the Forestry Area. At the present we have a project for the “Development and Enhancement of the Forest Resources and the Forestry Sector in Mexico”, being our client the Forestry Commission of the Forestry Commission of the Michoacan State, Mexico (COFOM). I have to coordinate a multinational group of professionals coming from different cultures working together for the same objective.

I’m an Industrial Engineer. I studied at the Universidad de Chile.

I also have a diplomat in Sustainable Forest Management Certification which I did in Sweden, 2001.

TA Dinh Thi

TA Dinh Thi

Chief of Secretariat to MONRE’s Leaders / Personal Assistant to Sr. Vice Minister

Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE)


4/2003 – 9/2003: Official, Ministry Office (Cabinet), Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE)

9/2003 – current: Chief of General Affairs and Secretariat, Ministry Office (Cabinet), MONRE and Personal Assistant to the Senior Vice Minister of Natural Resources and Environment

My responsibilities as Chief of General Affairs and Secretariat include

-policy research and recommendations in the area of environment and sustainable development at the national level for MONRE’s leaders;
– participating in planning for execution of adopted policies and laws;
– gathering opinions and feedback on policy implementation from local executive offices and making recommendations for amendments if necessary;
– participating in drafting new policies as assigned by the MONRE’s leaders and according to country law-making agenda;
– responsible for other activities related external affairs.
As Personal Assistant to Senior Vice Minister of MONRE I am responsible for general affairs and secretariat activities to MONRE leaders; advising the MONRE leaders at the policy level.


o  New and possibly innovative approaches for environment and sustainable development in the world, and how to adapt those innovative and more advanced techniques and methodologies to the Vietnamese context.

o  Lessons from other countries so that Vietnam can know what to avoid and what it should consider while maintaining successful economic and development achievements in recent years.

o  How to enable civil society to be an active partner in environment management and protection; how resources have been mobilized for environment work.


PhD. Candidate – Environmental economics and political economy, National Economics University, Hanoi, Vietnam

Master Degree – Public Management, Potsdam University, Potsdam, Germany

Bachelor of Science – Business Administration and Economics, National Economics University, Hanoi, Vietnam

Engineering – Environmental Technology, Hanoi University of Technology, Hanoi, Vietnam

Certificate International Institute of Rural Reconstruction, Cavite, the Philippines

Certificate Life Academy, Sweden

Certificate Life Academy, Malaysia

Michelle May Pawson

Name: Michelle Pawson

Country: New Zealand

Organization: Department of Conservation, New Zealand (NZ).

Title: Senior technical support advisor – Marine Conservation Unit.

I’m interested in sustainable environmental management, water-use, coastal processes and the protection of marine habitats.  In particular, the integration of indigenous rights and the balance of social and ecological dimensions within resource management.

My previous role was with the Ministry of Fisheries, NZ, working as a Policy Analyst in the Spatial Allocations Team. Our team advised the Minister of Fisheries on the allocation of New Zealand’s marine area, using resource management tools such as marine reserves, fishing closures and customary fishery tools.

I am currently working as a Senior Technical Support Advisor within the Marine Conservation Unit, Department of Conservation, NZ.

New Zealand is about to implement a new marine protection strategy. My role involves the national coordination, design and development of new systems to implement the MPA policy. I am also involved in the development of inter-agency procedures and standards for improving the public understanding of marine issues.

The team I work in provides advice to the Minister of Conservation on issues related to marine protection and marine sites and species. On a daily basis I am involved in project management, research analysis and managing the relationship and expectations of stakeholders and other government agencies.

-Bachelor of Science in Zoology/Ecology, Otago University, NZ.

-Post Graduate Diploma in Science Marine Science/Ecology, Otago University, NZ.

-Masters of Science in Marine Science, Otago University, NZ.

-Postgraduate Graduate Certificate in Resource Management, Massey University, NZ. (current extramural)

Oleg Guchgeldiyev

Name:  Oleg Guchgeldiyev

Country: Turkmenistan

Organization: UNDP/GEF project

Title: Chief Technical Advisor

Oleg Guchgeldiyev has seven years of increasing responsibilities in development related jobs with international institutions in Turkmenistan.  He has more than 4 years project management experience of various projects, from large-scale capacity building to small community mobilization.  For the last five years he works on environment issues, advising the regional Caspian Environment Programme at the local level.  Working for UNDP, UNOPS, WB and TACIS, he participated in developing the priority investment project portfolio for the country, managed the investment grant programme, initiating the coastal community development and leading the public participation work in the Turkmenistan Caspian Sea coast.  At his present position, a chief technical advisor, he assumes the responsibility of the manager and technical advisor for the USD 3 million UNDP/GEF-funded project to improve protection measures of the wetlands nature reserve.  He is the experienced trainer in management and project preparation for adult auditorium.

His interests include the environmental and agricultural economics and policy, public administration.

Currently Oleg is a Chief Technical Advisor of the project which is aimed at the strengthening the conservation capacity of the important wetland area, improved cross-sector capacity to manage landscapes around the protected areas and to establish the community-based natural resource management in selected communities around the reserve.  As a chief technical advisor, Oleg takes the responsibility for the routine project management and for advice on technical aspects of the project implementation.  The most of activities are aimed at the organizational improvement of the protected area management, strengthening its scientific and enforcement capacity.  It also works extensively with communities around the Reserve, providing social-economic development of these communities.

The project is financed by the GEF, local UNDP office and other donors.  The local partners of the project include local municipalities (two towns and two districts), environmental agencies, and industrial enterprises (oil refinery, port authorities and fishery enterprises).  One of the major tasks of the project is to create the effective working relationships with the project’s key partners at the local level, as well as building partnerships among protected areas and other institutions in the coastal zone.

Oleg has received MSc Public Economic Management from the University of Birmingham (1999), UK; completed one-year advanced business administration training course from the Economics Institute at the University of Colorado (1996), USA; and obtained the higher education in Automation of Management System from the Russian Oil and Gas Academy in Moscow (1992), Russian Federation.

He also has completed Environment and Diplomacy course of the University of Geneva, received further training in Economic Evaluation of the Environment (WB) and participated in training on Public Sector Advisory, Modern Teaching methods and Conflict Prevention.

Miia Pritta Toikka

Name: Miia Toikka

Country: Finland (currently residing in Kenya)

Organization: United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Title: Associate Programme Officer

I am a social scientist with work experience related to international development and environment issues. Since August 2006 I have been working as an Associate Programme Officer at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi.

Before joining UNEP I worked for five years as a campaigner and advocacy officer for a Finnish umbrella organization for NGOs active in development cooperation (Service Centre for Development Cooperation, KEPA). As my main task I coordinated a campaign that aimed to raise public awareness of the causes of hunger related to agricultural and trade policies and to influence the government positions on e.g. WTO negotiations. This job enabled me to develop skills and gain experience on various fronts, from lobbying civil servants and parliamentarians and representing Finnish civil society in international summits, to training and mobilizing member organizations and their activists to conduct public campaign activities around Finland. As part of my work I also acted as a vice-member of the Development Policy Committee, a multi-stakeholder advisory body to the Finnish government on development issues, which exposed me to many different dimensions of the international development policy debate.

During my studies I was active in several Finnish NGOs working on development cooperation and globalization, doing both voluntary and paid work. Among other things, I coordinated a development project to support the Kenyan Green Belt Movement (women’s tree-planting movement founded by the Nobelist Wangari Maathai), which taught me to appreciate the close linkages between poverty and environment in Africa.

I work in the Poverty and Environment Unit in the UNEP headquarters in Nairobi. Our unit is responsible for activities under the UNDP-UNEP Poverty and Environment Initiative (PEI), a global partnership of the two UN agencies to scale-up support for developing countries to integrate environment and sustainable livelihoods issues into their national development processes. Currently, we support pilot programmes in seven African countries. I’m the focal point for Tanzania and Uganda.

In the PEI country programmes we work closely with the environment ministries and agencies but also with the ministries responsible for planning and finances, sector ministries, local government authorities and civil society organizations, aiming at the inclusion of environmental sustainability as a key objective in national development strategies. We also build the long-term capacity of governments to mainstream environment into the implementation of development plans and budgets, including establishment of sustainable financing mechanisms for environmental investments.

As the UNEP focal point, I’m responsible for monitoring and supporting the planning and implementation of the country programmes through e.g. commenting on draft workplans and outputs, sourcing technical assistance as required, facilitating exchange of experiences with other countries implementing PEI programmes etc. I also work with UNDP and other donors in order to scale-up, coordinate and harmonize the donor support to mainstreaming of environment into development in the countries.

I graduated in 2001 with a Master’s degree in social sciences from the University of Helsinki. I studied sociology as my major and development studies and economic and social history as minors. For one term I studied as an exchange student at the University of Stirling, Scotland.

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