Keynote Speakers’ Bios

Speakers in alphabetical order.

Dr. Braulio Ferreiro de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary, Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity

Braulio DiasBraulio Ferreira de Souza Dias has over three decades of experience in biodiversity science and policy and its implementation at national and international levels. He brings a unique combination of scientific training and extensive experience in negotiation. He obtained a BSc in Biological Sciences from the University of Brasilia and went on to obtain his PhD in Zoology from the University of Edinburgh in 1981. He has occupied leading positions in the Brazilian Federal Government administration. Before joining the Secretariat, he was Secretary of Biodiversity and Forests at the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment since September 2010, and before that was Director for Biodiversity Conservation since 1999, overseeing national biodiversity and forest programs directly implemented by the Ministry of the Environment and the national programs implemented by institutes subordinate to the Ministry. Mr. Dias joins the Secretariat at the beginning of the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity and the first years of implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020.

Mr. Dias has since participated in each of the meetings of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity as a member of the Brazilian Delegation, and was one of the co-organizers of the eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, held in Curitiba Brazil in 2006. He has also been a member of the Brazilian Delegation in most of the meetings of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA), and was vice president of the SBSTTA bureau representing Latin America 1994-1996. During the period 1992-2011, he participated extensively in the major inter-sessional meetings and workshops of the CBD, and played a prominent role in the preparation, conception and negotiation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its Aichi Biodiversity Targets, which was adopted by Governments in Nagoya Japan in October 2010.

Dr. Brian Freer, CEO, Enterprise Systems Analytics (ESA)

Brian Freer’s career has been characterized by a strong commitment to both professional and scholarly pursuits. On the professional side, Brian founded and has over fifteen years experience leading professional service and software firms. His executive leadership continues at these firms. Brian holds a Ph.D. from York University (Toronto) in Anthropology and his scholarly work on environmental history has been ongoing for over twenty years. In professional services and engineering, Brian started his career with CH2M Hill working on the Environmental Restoration Contract at the US Department of Energy’s Hanford Site. At ESA teams that Brian manages provide professional services and engineering for government, non-profit, and private sector customers. Brian’s academic experience includes teaching and research as a visiting scholar and postdoctoral scholar at the University of Washington. He is also on the Board of Directors of Pacific Crest School in Seattle.

Brian’s professional background includes extensive experience implementing management systems for international standards. His international standards experience includes sustainability management (Global Reporting Initiative), ISO 14001 (environment), ISO 9001 (quality), ISO 50000 (energy) ISM (International Safety Management), and other management system standards. He also has direct project experience with software development, regulatory compliance, engineering management, and technical services to government, multi-modal transportation companies (including maritime), manufacturing facilities, and service organizations throughout North America and internationally. He has managed the development and implementation of compliance software for international standards in the management of administration, operations, maintenance, compliance, environment, and quality systems.

Brian’s scholarly work has been characterized by an interest in relationships amongst place, landscape, technology, temporality, and environment and the ways that organizations, academics, and professionals develop understandings of these aspects through time. A persistent theme of his academic work has been the uses of history and heritage by organizations in the aftermath of the Cold War. Among several current projects, Brian is at work on a co-authored book on the opportunities and challenges of doing future-oriented environmental history at sites of ongoing environmental cleanup. He is also in process on a monograph, Future Remains, a project concerned with questions pertaining to the communication of environmental and technological information to future generations. Other areas of scholarly interest include museum studies, in particular, the role of museums in inter-generational communication.

Dr. David Galbraith, Head of Science, Royal Botanic Gardens, Burlington; President, Canadian Botanical Conservation Network

Dr. David GalbraithDavid Galbraith is Head of Science at Royal Botanical Gardens, in Hamilton and Burlington, Ontario, Canada. He leads RBG’s efforts in plant taxonomy, floristics, historical studies, and in sustainability. His department is responsible for RBG’s herbarium, library, and many archival collections. He is involved in many networking and partnership-building programs in aid of conservation.

A wildlife biologist by training, David was named the first Angus d’A. Bellairs Fellow at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, and in 1993 he was appointed Executive Director and Curator of the Centre for Endangered Reptiles, an accredited conservation breeding and research centre. He joined RBG in 1995 to establish the Canadian Botanical Conservation Network, which he still serves as president.

David is a passionate advocate for the conservation of biodiversity and restoration of natural systems, including those in urban areas. He serves as the National Focal Point for Canada for the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation and as Adjunct Professor in the Biology Department of McMaster University.

Robert Höft, Environmental Affairs Officer, Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity

 hoft-photo Robert Höft is an Environmental Affairs Officer at the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity and responsible, among other things, for promoting implementation of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation. Robert is a botanist who received a masters and doctoral degree from Bayreuth University in Germany, having worked on plant ecology in Tanzania and Kenya respectively. Between 1994 and 2002 he was responsible for UNESCO’s contribution to the ‘People and Plants Initiative’, a training program on ethnobotany, co-sponsored by WWF and Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.

Timothy W. Luke, University Distinguished Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University,Blacksburg, Virginia

cropped-TLuke_660x-600-300x272Timothy W. Luke is University Distinguished Professor and Chair in the Department of Political Science in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia.   He also serves as Program Chair for Government and International Affairs for Virginia Tech’s School of Public and International Affairs in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, and he was the founding Director of the interdisciplinary Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Social Thought (ASPECT) doctoral program in the both of these colleges at Virginia Tech. He is the co-editor of Fast Capitalism, book line editor for Telos Press Publishing, and the author or co-editor of several books, including: Gun Violence and Public Life (2014, co-edited with Ben Agger); Putting Knowledge to Work, Letting Information Play: The Center for Digital Discourse and Culture (2012, co-edited with Jeremy Hunsinger), There is Gunman on Campus: Tragedy and Terror at Virginia Tech (2008, co-edited with Ben Agger), Museum Pieces: Power Plays at the Exhibition (2002), Capitalism, Democracy, and Ecology: Departing from Marx (1999), The Politics of Cyberspace (1998, co-edited with Chris Toulouse), Ecocritique: Contesting the Politics of Nature, Economy and Culture (1997) and Shows of Force: Power, Politics and Ideology in Art Exhibitions (1992). His research interests include applied ecocriticism, modern cultural and political theory as well as the workings of contemporary environmental movements, international politics, museum politics, and material culture.

Leigh Morris, incoming Director of Community Conservation at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, President of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture

Leigh Morris_2014_02 - LowRes

Leigh Morris is the Director of Community Conservation at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (, based at Edinburgh Zoo, responsible for all aspects of discovery and learning across the society. Leigh joined RZSS in September 2014, moving from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE), where he was responsible for RBGE’s wide ranging exhibitions, events, interpretation and formal education programmes. Leigh’s original background was horticulture before moving to the delivery and management of tertiary education in colleges.

During his 10 years at RBGE their formal education offer expanded greatly, with a new BSc in Horticulture with Plantsmanship, a number of RBGE branded Certificates and Diplomas, a Train the Trainer course and most recently the development of on-line and blended learning programmes on RBGE’s virtual learning platform ‘Propagate Learning’ ( Leigh was also involved in a number of global botanical conservation and capacity building projects including the development of botanic gardens in countries including China, Haiti, Jordan, Kurdistan, Laos, Thailand and Oman.

Leigh holds an MSc in International Horticulture and is a Trustee of the UK Marine Conservation Society ( He recently completed an active two-year tenure as President of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture, now remaining engaged as a Trustee ( Leigh is increasingly passionate about community engagement with biodiversity conservation, and this led him to move across the City of Edinburgh into his new exciting role.

Dr. Sara Oldfield, Secretary General of Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI)

Sara OldfieldSara Oldfield is Secretary General of Botanic Gardens Conservation International, a post she has held since May 2005. In this role, Sara leads the strategic development of BGCI, a membership organisation that brings together around 600 botanic gardens. She is also responsible for the organisation’s world-wide programmes, addressing the conservation and sustainable of plant diversity, environmental education and biodiversity policy objectives.

Prior to joining BGCI, Sara worked for a range of conservation organisations. From 1998 to 2004, Sara was the Global Programmes Director at Fauna & Flora International (FFI), responsible for the management and development of global programmes including FFI’s Global Trees Campaign. This programme, which is now run jointly with BGCI, aims to save globally threatened tree species and their habitats worldwide.

Sara is Chair of the IUCN/SSC Global Tree Specialist Group, responsible for promoting and implementing projects to identify and protect globally Red Listed tree species. She has published and edited a wide range of books, reports and papers on biodiversity conservation, endangered species, rainforests and deserts.

Dr. Esther Turnhout, Associate professor, Wagneningen University, Netherlands

Esther Turnhout photoEsther Turnhout is associate professor at the Forest and Nature Conservation Policy Group of Wageningen University, the Netherlands. Her research and teaching focus on the relation between science, politics and society in the field of biodiversity governance and nature conservation. Her current research focuses amongst others on amateur natural history, the science-policy interface, Natura 2000, public participation, ecological monitoring and performance measurement, invasive species, and biodiversity knowledge politics. Recently she has been researching the mobilisation of the concept of Ecosystem Services in conservation and the UN Intergovernmental science-policy Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). She has published articles on these and other topics in journals such as Nature, Environmental Politics, Geoforum, Journal of Rural Studies, Science and Public Policy, Environment and Planning and Conservation Letters. She is associate editor of Environmental science & Policy and has also been selected as an expert for the IPBES deliverables.


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