Special ambassadors

Professor Claire Chenu (AgroParisTech, France)

Prof. Claire Chenu is a Professor of Soil Sciences at AgroParisTech with a strong academic track record, accomplished experience of the science-policy-practice interface and committed involvement in awareness raising activities where she makes use of her strong teaching skills and experience. Claire Chenu is the Vice-Chair of the CSPNB (Conseil Scientifique du Patrimoine Naturel et de la Biodiversité), an advisory committee on biodiversity and natural heritage to the Minister of Ecology (France) that recently published recommendations regarding soil policy at the national level.

As Chair of the scientific committee of the GESSOL program, a multidisciplinary research program of the French ministry of Ecology, she is also tasked to conceive and supervise the translation of stakeholders and public policy's knowledge needs into valid research questions and with the transfer to end-users of newly acquired scientific results from a wide range of disciplines, encompassing law, sociology, economy, ecology, hydrology and soil sciences. Under the framework of the GESSOL program, she actively contributed to numerous awareness raising activities. These activities include the coordination and dissemination of the French version of the European Atlas of soil biodiversity or the card game "The hidden life of soils". They also correspond to multiple invited talks, such as the French world soil day 2014 that took place at the French parliament, or training sessions for future high-level civil servants.

At the international level, she is a member of the steering committee of the Swiss National Science Foundation Research Program on soils (NRP68), member of the scientific committee of the German Biodiversity observatories and member of the advisory board of the SNOWMAN network, a European network on research related to soil sustainable management.

Her personal research deals with soil organic matter in soils, its dynamics, stabilization processes explaining carbon storage in soils, interaction with soil structure and changes with cropping practices. She is co-editor in chief of the journal Soil Biology and Biochemistry.


Professor Tekalign Mamo (Adviser to the Minister of Agriculture, Ethiopia)

“Born in Lekemt, Ethiopia, Professor Mamo graduated with a Ph.D. in Soil chemistry and fertility at Aberdeen University, Scotland. From a strong academic basis, Professor Mamo has expanded beyond a purely academic role. Currently adviser to the Ethiopian Minister of Agriculture and state minister, Professor Tekalign has long been a key contributor to the country's food security, soil health and natural resources programs.

In 1985, he and a team of experts launched a national project to improve the country's vast clay soils, especially those that get waterlogged and impair crop productivity. The results have benefited millions of farmers to date. In 2005, he led the work on a watershed development strategy, focusing on community ownership and the use of proven technologies. Using this approach, Ethiopia reversed degradation on about 13 million hectares of land, and turned them into productive assets. The rehabilitated watersheds are now being legally transferred to landless and jobless rural youth, who can use it to generate income while preserving the environment.

He has also engaged in several initiatives on soil fertility, addressing both acidic soils and nutrient deficiencies. Through his recommendations and leadership, a new conceptual and operational framework for fertilizers has been developed. A national digital mapping of soil fertility at a district level has been undertaken, and new fertilizers have been introduced which improve past approaches. Over 40,000 new fertilizer demonstrations have been conducted. Many consider this the beginning of a new era of fertilizer use in the country.

Professor Mamo's achievements have also led to his position as one of 13 global commissioners for Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, and him serving as one of 27 leading global experts in the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils, and as the sole winner of the prestigious 2014 AGRA Award. He still guides and supervises graduate students, and he is the founder of the Ethiopian Journal of Natural Resources. Prof Tekalign Mamo also received the prestigious Yara Prize 2014.”