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2014 Iscol Lecturer: Luc Gnacadja (flier)

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Tuesday, April 22 - Lecture

Grounding Human Security: Land and Soil in the Global Sustainability Agenda

Schwartz Auditorium, Rockefeller Hall

Land is the crucial natural capital resource at the nexus of our food and water security. We need fertile soil—the skin of the land—as much as the air we breathe, yet we routinely take soil for granted. Land degradation is accelerating, especially in the developing world, threatening both environmental health and human security. Soil security is a prerequisite for human security and must be a vital part of the sustainable development goals we set. The global community can work together to balance land degradation and restoration for a more resilient future.


Classroom Visits:

  • 9:05am, 125 Riley-Robb Hall
    Mr. Gnacadja joins the Society and Natural Resources class for a Q&A session exploring international sustainable development goals to build human security while protecting natural resources and environmental health.
    Facilitator: Prof. Richard Stedman (NTRES)
  • 1:25pm, 100 Caldwell Hall
    Mr. Gnacadja joins Environment and Society students for a discussion of how international measures to guarantee a land degradation–neutral world can further both soil security
    and human security.
    Facilitator: Whitney Mauer, Lecturer, Development Sociology

Wednesday, April 23 - Panel Discussion

Waterless Lands and Languishing Livelihoods

  Yale-Princeton Room, Statler Hotel

The recent United Nations Environment Programme report Assessing Global Land Use: Balancing Consumption with Sustainable Supply is the starting point for this panel discussion exploring the potential and consequences of expanding global cropland to meet ever-growing demand. Hosted by the Institute for the Social Sciences Land Theme Project.

Panelists: Prof. Robert Howarth (UN Report Author, EEB); Prof. Gail Holst-Warhaft (IES); Prof. Prabhu Pingali (AEM); Prof. Rebecca Schneider (NTRES)

Facilitators: Prof. Wendy Wolford (DSOC) and Prof. Charles Geisler (DSOC)
For advance registration, call Paula Euvrard (255-7535).


Classroom Visit:

  • 12:20pm, 116 Kennedy Hall
    Mr. Gnacadja joins Environmental Conservation students for a Q&A session about how land degradation threatens environmental health and strategies for restoring arid land.
    Facilitator: Prof. Joseph Yavitt (NTRES)







About Luc Gnacadja

Mr. Gnacadja served as Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and UN Assistant Secretary-General from 2007 to 2013. He was a guiding voice for sustainable land development in the negotiations leading up to Rio+20, the June 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development. Gnacadja argued, “A land degradation–neutral world is the final piece of the puzzle that unites the challenge of land degradation with the tools at our disposal and the level of ambition needed to achieve the future we want.” The international community affirmed this goal in The Future We Want, the outcome document adopted in Rio.

Born in Benin, Gnacadja earned an architecture degree at the African Crafts School of Architecture and Urbanism in Lomé, Togo, and later studied at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and the World Bank Institute. Gnacadja was Benin’s minister of environment, housing, and urban development and represented Benin as the head of delegation to UNCCD and the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change and Convention on Biological Diversity.

A passionate advocate for landscapes and their ecological restoration, Gnacadja continues to work for international policies to ensure land stewardship and restoration, so that future generations will enjoy the benefits of healthy and productive land. Gnacadja received a 2002 Green Award from the World Bank for promoting  environment-friendly public expenditure reform in Benin.

About the Iscol Lecture

The Jill and Ken Iscol Distinguished Environmental Lecture brings prominent scholars, newsmakers, scientists, and leaders to Cornell to address environmental issues of paramount importance to humankind. Recognizing scholarship on the frontiers of scientific inquiry, the Iscol Lecture provides opportunities for Cornell students, faculty, staff, and the public to gain new knowledge about pressing environmental issues and enriches the intellectual character of the university and the community. A faculty award committee, representing a cross-section of academic disciplines, annually selects the Jill and Ken Iscol Distinguished Environmental Lecturer.

Past Iscol lecturers; 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, and previous Iscol Lectures.