Keynote speakers

Nine keynote speakers gave a talk about the overarching conference theme 'Ecosystem Services for Nature, People and Prosperity'. 

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

Richard Cowling (Friday 13 November, 08:30):

'Why mainstreaming biodiversity and ecosystem services is like swimming upstream, and what can be done about it'

Lorenzo Fioramonti (Friday 13 November, 15:00):

‘What we talk about when we talk about….growth’

Sarah Frazee (Thursday 12 November, 08:30):

'Engaging the private sector in ecosystem services conservation and livelihood improvement: opportunities, challenges and lessons learned'

Mark Gough (Monday 9 November, 10:00):

'Ecosystem services and prosperity : including natural capital in decision making for our shared benefit; The Natural Capital Protocol.'

Gwarega Mangohze (Thursday 12 November, 08:30):

'Engaging the business sector: Ecosystem Services and the Consumer Goods Sector of South Africa'

Christo Marais (Monday 9 November, 10:00):

'Ecosystem services and livelihoods: the evolution of the SA Natural Resource Management Programmes and its contribution to improving rural livelihoods.'

Kiruben Naicker (Tuesday 10 November, 08:30):

'Africa’s Green Growth Potential: Enhancing African Economies through the concept of Natural Capital'

Rosimeiry Portela (Tuesday 10 November, 08:30):

'Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: Maximizing Benefits in Conservation Decision-Making and Management'

Belinda Reyers (Monday 9 November, 10:00):

'Ecosystem services and Nature: Ecosystem service approaches to implementing the sustainable development goals'


Richard Cowling

Prof. Richard Cowling has over three decades of experience as a vegetation ecologist and conservation scientist. His research has focussed on the ecology, biogeography, evolution, diversity and conservation of South Africa's fynbos, succulent karoo and subtropical thicket biomes, all globally recognised hotspots of biodiversit. A secondary research interest of his is the comparative ecology and evolution of the world's Mediterranean Climate Ecosystems. His work has gained him recognition as a world-leading ecologist and conservation scientist. In 1987 the Foundation for Research Development (the forerunner of the National Research Foundation) awarded him the President's Award for Outstanding Young Scientists. In addition to his formal academic career, Cowling has engaged in numerous community-based projects dealing with the conservation of South Africa's flora and vegetation. He was listed by ISI, in 2009, as being among the 250 most cited researchers in Ecology/Environment between 1981 and 2005.


Lorenzo Fioramonti 

Lorenzo Fioramonti ( is Full Professor of Political Economy at the University of Pretoria (South Africa) and he is the founding director of GovInn. He is also Senior Fellow at the Centre for Social Investment of the University of Heidelberg and at the Hertie School of Governance (Germany) and Associate Fellow at the United Nations University. Lorenzo is the first and only Jean Monnet Chair in Africa and also holds the UNESCO-UNU Chair in Regional Integration, Migration and Free Movement of People. In 2012, he received the UP Exceptional Young Researcher Award.

His most recent books are How Numbers Rule the World: The Use and Abuse of Statistics in Global Politics (Zed Books 2014) and Gross Domestic Problem: The Politics Behind the World’s Most Powerful Number (Zed Books 2013), which deal with the political interests behind economic statistics and market governance. 

Sarah Frazee

Sarah Frazee is passionate and dedicated to global biodiversity conservation with a keen interest in the role of business and economics in conservation.  Born in the US to a family of  historians, her extensive travel in her youth as a “faculty brat”  gave rise to a fascination of the linkages between economics and nature which has motivated her eighteen year career with Conservation International.  Sarah has worked in Indonesia, the Phillipines, Madagascar, and Ghana.  After completing her Masters at University of Cape Town on modelling the costs of conserving the Cape Floristic environment in 2000, Sarah became the Director for Conservation International’s programme in South Africa.  The programme became an independent NGO, Conservation South Africa in 2010. Sarah now guides a portfolio that focuses on the role of healthy ecosystem’s role in greening economic development, food security and land reform, and building resilience to climate change.  In the last five years she has led the design several business engagement efforts aiming to deliver major social upliftment, job creation, and ecosystem restoration outcomes.

Mark Gough

Mark Gough is the Executive Director of the Natural Capital Coalition, a role he took on in March 2015. A strong believer in integrating sustainability into decision making where it becomes everyone’s opportunity, Mark previously worked for The Crown Estate, helping to develop its integrated vision and approach to value measurement. Prior to this he was the Global Environmental Manager for the information company, Reed Elsevier. Mark is a Director of the Aldersgate Group, which brings together business, politics and civil society to drive action for a sustainable economy, and has sat on a number of national and international committees, including the Steering Committee of the United Nations CEO Water Mandate and the Board of the Alliance for Water Stewardship.


Gwarega Mangohze

Chief Executive Officer Gwarega Mangozhe joined CGCSA in January 2012 from International Mueller Chemicals Distribution (IMCD) South Africa (a subsidiary of the Rotterdam based IMCD Group), where he served as Financial Director. He has a Bachelor of Business Science (Finance Honours) degree from the University of Cape Town and is a qualified Chartered Accountant. He then went on to complete his MBA as well as an Executive Development Programme at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS).

Prior to joining IMCD South Africa, Gwarega held senior management positions in Sales, Operations and Finance at Avis Fleet Services South Africa, a division of the Barloworld Group. He also has extensive knowledge of the public sector as he has consulted with several government entities in the areas of compliance, strategy and organisational re-engineering.

Christo Marais

Christo Marais grew up on a wine, deciduous fruit and dairy farm in the Breede River (Wide River) valley north east of Cape Town in South Africa. In 1983 he obtained a diploma in forestry from the Saasveld School of Forestry, and in 1986 graduated with forestry, majoring in nature conservation from the University of Stellenbosch. In 1988 he obtained an honours and in 1998 a Ph.D. in Nature Conservation. The title of his dissertation, “An economic evaluation of the invasive alien plant control programmes in the mountain catchment areas of the Western Cape Province, South Africa.” 

Since 1987 he worked as natural resource manager in conservation agencies in South Africa and contributed to and edited a number of scientific reports as well as local and international conference proceedings focusing on invasive alien plants and watershed management.This led to the publication of local and international refereed scientific papers and book chapters on the restoration of ecological infrastructure and payments for ecosystem services with him as co-author and some as first author.  The publications were mostly based on his academic work and experience as senior manager in the Natural Resource Management Programmes of the Department of Environmental Affairs in South Africa. These include the Working for Water, Working on Fire, Working for Wetlands, Working for Forests and Working for Ecosystems programmes all part of the environmental and social cluster of South Africa’s Expanded Public Works Programme. 

He is currently Chief Director: Natural Resource Management Programmes in the Department Environment Affairs. Since its inception the programmes showed an exponential growth in financial turnover. Expenditure since its inception in 1995 have been more than $1.28 billion (R12.82 billion) and more than 45, 000 people benefit directly from the programmes annually.

Kiruben Naicker

Kiruben Naicker is a Director at the National Department of Environmental Affairs in South Africa, leading the science policy interface agenda and the work programme of the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). He has gained valuable experience in development planning issues and is the key champion for mainstreaming Biodiversity cross sectorally. He has championed the TEEB process which has resulted in the institutionalization of the Biodiversity Economy in South Africa. Kiruben is qualified and experienced, having obtained a Master of Science Degree from the University of the Witwatersrand. His international exposure as the scientific technical delegate for South Africa’s International Biodiversity Agenda has led him to complete a 2nd Master of Science Degree in Conservation Biology from the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, University of Kent, Canterbury. His research in resource economics has taken him to the Himalayas in India where he worked with local mountain communities. He is presently pursuing his PhD in Natural Capital Accounting at the Albert Luthuli Centre for Responsible Leadership, University of Pretoria. 

Rosimeiry Portela

Rosimeiry Portela is an Ecological Economist/Senior Director and lead of the Economics Team of the Moore Center for Science and Oceans at Conservation International (CI). Dr. Portela's research focuses primarily on nature’s provision of ecosystem services and their contribution to the human economy and well-being. ​Her current research explores the integration of environmental- economic information into national accounting systems, as well as into business management and decision-making. She is co-Principal Investigator of the  Ecosystem Values and Accounting (EVA), a pilot research on the implementation of experimental ecosystems accounting in Peru, and the lead of the Technical Group developing the  Natural Capital Protocol, a framework for business to integrate​ natural capital information ​into business management and decision-making. Dr. Portela is originally from Brazil and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Belinda Reyers

Belinda Reyers began her research career in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment – a global study to measure declines in the world’s ecosystems and the consequences of these declines for human wellbeing.  Subsequent to this global effort, Prof Reyers has gone on to further develop this research on the links between ecosystems and human wellbeing in Southern Africa, building the knowledge, tools, policy context and capacity in the region for this work. She is currently based at the Stockholm Resilience Centre in Sweden where her research involves regional and international collaborations which aim to integrate knowledge on ecosystems and their role in supporting resilient societies into the policies and practices of decision makers. This work has supported several new collaborations between science and the private and public sectors in unlocking new investments, policy shifts and partnerships for improved ecosystem stewardship. Prof Reyers plays a number of advisory roles to national government and international bodies including: Vice Chair of the Science Committee of Future Earth; the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, and the Global Earth Observation: Biodiversity Observation Network. She is also an extraordinary Professor at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. Her publications include over 80 articles in scientific journals and chapters in books.

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