Keynote speakers

Several keynote speakers will talk about the overarching conference theme 'Ecosystem Services for SDGs in Africa'. 

Hereby an overview of the keynote speakers, arranged in alphabetical order:

Prof. John M. Gowdy (Thursday 24 November, 08:30 – 09:30):

'ES and greener economies in Africa: What prospects?'

Dr. Pushpam Kumar (Monday 21 November, 11:45 – 12:15):

'Macro-economic policies, ES and SDGs.'

Vimal Shah (Tuesday 22 November, 08:30 – 09.30):

'Public-private partnerships for delivering ES and sustainable development in Africa.'

Dr. Tony Simons (Monday 21 November, 10:00 – 10.30):

'Opening remarks.'

Prof. Judi Wakhungu (Monday 21 November, 11:00 – 11:30):

‘Natural resources, ecosystems services and sustainable development in Africa: Policy challenges and prospects.’


John M. Gowdy

Professor of Economics, and Professor of Science and Technology Studies, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York USA.  His current research is in the broad transdisciplinary fields of ecological and evolutionary economics. The starting point for these fields is the economic process as a social, not individualistic, phenomenon taking place within a finite biophysical universe. His specific areas of research include the evolution of the human economy as an ultrasocial system, behavioral economics and environmental policy, economic valuation of biodiversity, and microeconomic theory and policy. He has worked with the TEEB project (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity), a project with the Garrison Institute on Mind, Behavior, and Climate Change, and initiatives on economics and evolution with the Evolution Institute. He is currently involved in a study of the economic, social and environmental values of the Sudd wetland in South Sudan. 

Prof. Pushpam Kumar 

Chief, Ecosystem Services Economics Unit, Ecosystems Division of the UN Environment since 2010 where he works on mainstreaming of natural capital including ecosystem services into development policy. During 2015/2016, Dr. Kumar served as the Coordinator of Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services Branch of UNEP. Currently, he provides leadership to a number of initiatives. He is Report Director for Economics of Land Degradation (Africa and Asia); he coordinates Inclusive Wealth Report. He is a member of UNEP Steering Committee-led ‘New Enquiry on Greening the Financial Systems’, member of the UN Committee of Experts on Environmental Accounts (UNCEEA) New York, Advisory Board member of the Gulbenkia Ocean Initiative (Lisbon) and is closely involved in designing and conceptualization of UNEP’s Green Economy. Dr. Kumar Co- Chaired the Technical Committee of the WAVES Programme of the World Bank (2011-16). Dr. Kumar has published in peer-reviewed journals such as Science, Bioscience, Ecological Economics, Ambio, Ecosystem Services and International Development. In recent years, he has delivered plenary / key note talk in Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP); Environment for Development (EfD) Arusha; CIFOR-Earth Institute Initiative, NY; Bioecon, Cambridge; CSIR, Pretoria; and World Natural Capital Forum, Edinburgh.

Vimal Shah 

One of Kenya's and East Africa’s eminent and most respected business leaders. Together with his father and brother, Mr. Shah has transformed Bidco from a humble soap manufacturing enterprise into a Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) behemoth. Bidco is presently East Africa’s leading manufacturer of edible oils and hygiene and personal care products with over 40 brands and a footprint in 18 African countries. He is a recipient of multiple awards and accolades. Vimal was the 2012 recipient of the East African Entrepreneur of the Year award awarded by All Africa Business Leaders Awards (AABLA) in partnership with CNBC Africa and Forbes Africa. In recognition of his contribution to national development, Former President Mwai Kibaki awarded him the ‘First Class: Chief of the Order of the Burning Spear (CBS) in December 2011-the highest national honour for a private citizen in Kenya. Shah is regarded as one of Africa’s most distinguished and visionary business leaders and was named as a finalist in the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2011, a position he held together with his brother and business partner, Tarun Shah.  He is a much sought-after speaker and mentor on entrepreneurship, leadership and manufacturing and has given talks all over the world. He is a Fellow of the Kenya Institute of Management, a Fellow of the Marketing Society of Kenya and the Institute of Certified Public Secretaries of Kenya. 


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