Global Soil Partnership

Secretariat: meet our team!

The Global Soil Partnership (GSP) Secretariat is the coordination and facilitation body in charge of enabling the implementation of the GSP actions through its regional partnerships and networks. The GSP is hosted by FAO in view of its global mandate.

For any queries on the GSP, please write to [email protected]. For further information, you may directly contact the members of our team presented below.

Lifeng Li

Secretary of the Global Soil Partnership (officer in charge)
Director of the Land and Water Division

Lifeng Li joined FAO in August 2021 overseeing FAO's activities related to soil, land, water and geospatial issues. In addition to this role, he is FAO's focal point for the UNCCD and Ramsar Conventions, and co-leads the UN Decade for Ecosystem Restoration in collaboration with other senior FAO and UNEP officials. He brings a wealth of 15 years' experience in the fields of water policy, river basin management and freshwater ecosystems with organizations such as WWF China, WWF International (Switzerland) and Wetlands International (Netherlands). In addition, he has three years' expertise in climate finance, national climate planning and programming, and improving country readiness to access climate finance, gained during his tenure at the Green Climate Fund (GCF, South Korea). He holds a PhD in physical geography from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in China.

 [email protected]

Natalia Rodriguez Eugenio

Land and Water officer

Natalia is a soil scientist who joined the GSP Secretariat in 2017 to organize the Global Symposium on Soil Pollution. She currently coordinates and oversees the implementation of activities and projects on soil degradation and sustainable soil management, including the implementation of the RECSOIL initiative. Natalia provides technical support throughout the GSP project cycle. Prior to joining FAO, she worked as a soil expert in QC/QA and GIS for soil mapping in Ecuador and as a soil pollution expert at JRC-EC. She is a biologist and holds a MSc in Sustainable Soil Management and Soil Protection and a PhD in Soil Science.

[email protected]

Yuxin Tong

Land and Water Officer (Soil fertility and fertilizer)

Yuxin is a soil researcher who joined FAO in 2018 to coordinate the activities of the International Network of Black Soil (INBS) for the GSP Secretariat. He has supervised the implementation the Global Soil Laboratory Network (GLOSOLAN) and the International Network of Soil Fertility and Fertilizer (INSOILFER). He provides technical support to the project implementation on the topic of soil fertility and fertilizer recommendation. Before joining FAO, he was a researcher focused on the environmental effects of crop conversion in the black soil region and balanced fertilization. He holds a M.Sc. in Soil Science and a Ph.D. in Plant Nutrition.

[email protected]

Yusuf Yigini

Land and Water officer (Soil Information)

Yusuf is a soil scientist specialised in soil mapping and spatial data modelling with more than 15 years of research and policy experience. He joined the GSP Secretariat in 2017. At the secretariat, he coordinates Pillar 4 (Data and Information) and Pillar 5 (Harmonisation) activities, including the Global Soil Information System (GloSIS), SoilSTAT, GSP Global Data Products, and capacity development in member countries. Prior to his current assignment, he has worked at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission as Technical, Scientific Project Officer for 6 years, and more than 7 years in Turkey as a researcher. He holds a Ph.D., M.Sc., and BSc. degrees in Soil Science.

[email protected]

Isabelle Verbeke

Land and Water officer (Soil Communication)

Isabelle is a land and water officer at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). She joined FAO in 2002 and the Global Soil Partnership (GSP) secretariat in 2012. In her role, she leads the communication team and is responsible for crafting and implementing the GSP's communication strategy, including advocacy efforts with partners and the development and coordination of communication campaigns. She played a pivotal role in rolling out initiatives like World Soil Day (WSD) and the International Year of Soils (2015). Under her guidance, World Soil Day celebrations experienced remarkable growth, expanding from just 8 events in 2014 to 2300 celebrations in 2022, reaching a global audience of 4 billion (press coverage) and engaging 488 million users (social media platforms). She oversees the maintenance of 10 FAO soil-related websites and manages the publication workflow related to soil matters. She also coordinated the organizational and communication components of 5 policy-science symposia held between 2017 and 2022, addressing various critical soil threats such as soil organic carbon, soil pollution, soil erosion, soil biodiversity, salt-affected soils, and soils for nutrition.

[email protected]

Matteo Sala

Consultant (Art Director/Graphic Designer)

Matteo is a graphic designer with more than 20 years of working experience in the field of communication, design and content management for various clients, including FAO. In 2015, he started working for the FAO Land and Water division as a graphic and web designer. He handled many publications and multimedia material in relation to soils and is the art coordinator for the annual World Soil Day campaign, scientific symposia, communication campaigns, and for all GSP activities and products.

[email protected]

Giusy Emiliano

Consultant (Art Curator)

Giusy is an independent art curator. She works with artists who have made a mark on ‘arte povera’ in Italy. Since 2015, she has furthered her studies on the connection between art and science and she engages herself in the creation of international events and art exhibitions/ installations to bring the public closer to environmental issues through contemporary art.

[email protected]

Maria Cruz Ferro Vazquez

International Consultant (Sustainable soil management and GEF)

Cruz is a soil scientist with more than 15 years of experience in soil formation and sustainable management. She joined the GSP in 2022 to support the integration of the GSP tools for measuring, mapping, assessing, reporting and monitoring soil health in GEF projects. Cruz holds a BSc degree in Biology, an MSc in Natural Resources, an MA in International Studies, and a PhD in Soil Science from the University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain; and her previous work includes projects addressing the long-term effects of traditional agriculture on soils from environmentally diverse areas worldwide.

[email protected]

Carolina Olivera Sanchez

International Consultant (Soil Management)

Carolina is an agronomist with over 20 years of experience on soils in the field and in laboratory. She works with the GSP Secretariat as a facilitator for the Latin American and Caribbean Soil Partnership, and as a support in the field for Pillar 1 on sustainable soil management. Prior to joining the GSP, she worked as a consultant on soil fertility management in the livestock, viticulture and horticulture sectors and on development projects for international cooperation agencies. She holds a M.Sc. in Agronomy from Paris VI University.

[email protected]

Lucrezia Caon

Land and Water officer (Soil Management)

Lucrezia is a soil expert specialized in sustainable soil management, soil governance and land tenure. Since 2014, she has been working for the Global Soil Partnership, FAO, coordinating the activities of the Asian Soil Partnership, the Pacific Soil Partnership, the Near East and North Africa Soil Partnership, and the Global Soil Laboratory Network (GLOSOLAN). Since 2023, Lucrezia is based in the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific as Land Management Officer where she supports countries in the region in implementing sustainable soil management practices, building their capacities on the topic and developing country specific tools as needed. Lucrezia holds a B.Sc. in Environmental Sciences from the University of Udine, Italy and a M.Sc. in International Land and Water Management from the Wageningen University, Netherlands. Prior to joining FAO, she worked as researcher in European and international projects at the Wageningen University and the Wageningen Environmental Research (Alterra).

[email protected] 

Marcos Angelini

International Consultant (Soil Information)

Marcos is a data scientist, agronomy engineer from Argentina. He has a PhD in Digital Soil Mapping. He worked for the Soil Institute of the National Instituto of Agricultural Technology of Argentina Between 2004 and 2020, participating in different projects related to soil survey and mapping digital soil mapping and developing a soil information system.  He completed his Ph.D. at ISRIC World Soil Information and Wageningen University, the Netherlands, in 2018. His thesis covered topics related to digital soil mapping using structural equation modelling. In 2020, he completed a Postdoc position at INRAE Montpellier, France, where he worked on mapping soil quality indicators. Marcos will be contributing to several aspects of GloSIS development, implementation of AFACI project and our capacity development programme.

[email protected]

Giacomo Rocchegiani

Consultant (Soil Law)

Giacomo is a trainee lawyer, passionate about comparative law and specialised in several food-related topics. He joined the GSP as an intern in 2022 to support the implementation of the SoiLEX database on soil-connected policies and legal provisions, and to compile international, regional and national legal instruments with a relevance to soil protection. Prior to this experience, he worked as an intern for the ICQRF, the inspectorate of the Italian Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry for quality certification and food fraud repression. Giacomo holds a Bachelor degree in Law from La Sapienza University in Rome and an L.L.M. in Food Law obtained at LUISS. 

[email protected]

Sergejus Ustinov

International Consultant (Soil Pollution)

Sergejus is a soil pollution specialist with an extensive research knowledge in geology, geochemistry and ecotoxicology. Sergejus received his BSc from Trinity College Dublin and a research MSc from the University of Amsterdam (UvA) where he focused on investigating naturally polluted soils by trace elements emitted and deposited by volcanic eruptions in Italy, Spain, Greece and Peru. His industrial experience was gained in the area of ecotoxicology in Ireland and Belgium where he worked as a scientific consultant understanding the hazardous effects of POP’s, PBT’s, PFAS and other chemicals on the environment. He started working with FAO in 2021 with the main activities related to soil pollution in particularly the development of technical documents to support the full cycle of soil pollution, designing and implementation of field experiments for the remediation of trace element contaminated soils and managing an INSOP network.

[email protected]

Vinisa Santillan Saynes

International Consultant (Soil Fertility/Nitrogen)

Vinisa is a biologist specialized in  carbon and nitrogen cycling in the plant-soil-atmosphere system of agricultural lands forestry systems. She joined the GSP to support the activities in Pillar 1 (Soil Management) associated with CO2 and non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions and mitigation in agriculture. She is also supporting the implementation of The international Code of Conduct for the Sustainable Use and Management of Fertilizers. She holds a PhD. in Soil Sciences from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. 

[email protected]

Maria Konyushkova

International Consultant (Soil Salinity)

Maria is a soil salinity expert with almost 20-year experience in the field work and research in arid and salt-affected regions of Russia, Kazakhstan, Iran, Uzbekistan, and China. She joined the GSP Secretariat in 2021 to lead the work of the GSP in the topic of soil salinity. Prior to joining FAO, she worked as a soil scientist in the department of salt-affected soils of Dokuchaev Soil Science Institute and as a soil expert in the Eurasian Center for Food Security. She was an active actor in the work of the subregional Eurasian Soil Partnership and an expert from Europe in the FAO Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils. She holds a M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Soil Science.

[email protected]

Filippo Benedetti

International consultant (Soil management)

Filippo is a soil scientist who joined the GSP Secretariat in March 2020 to support the implementation of Global Soil Laboratory Network (GLOSOLAN) work plan. Since December 2022 he is also facilitating the activities of the African Soil Partnership. Before joining FAO, Filippo worked as soil surveyor (especially in vineyards) and formulated precision agriculture and sustainable soil management guidelines for a range of stakeholders. He holds a M.Sc. in Physical Land Resources (major Soil Science) from Ghent University, Belgium and a BSc in Geology from Rome University, Italy. 

[email protected]

Maria Chiara Humura

Consultant in Communication

Maria Chiara is a consultant who joined FAO in March 2023 and assists the GSP team with communications. She has a background in politics and international relations and has always been passionate about international politics, human rights, cooperation, gender issues, sustainability and communication. She has worked for the World Food Program and UNHCR as a communications expert and now supports the GSP secretariat in maintaining soil-related websites and the preparation of the World Soil Day campaign.

[email protected] 

Margherita Furenti

Consultant in Communication

Margherita holds a Master's degree from La Sapienza University of Rome in International Cooperation and Development Sciences. She brings experience in supporting and coordinating communication, awareness-raising, and stakeholder engagement activities in the fields of sustainable development and human rights. Prior to her role at FAO, Margherita has contributed her expertise to organizations such as UNDP and various non-governmental organizations and foundations, working on awareness-raising initiatives. At GSP, Margherita's responsibilities will include supporting communications activities, including those of the Global Soil Partnership program, updating and developing content for soil-related websites, assisting with the Global Soil Day 2023 campaign, and managing all matters related to the registration and liaison of new GSP partnership applications. Margherita is sitting in B708bis. 

[email protected]

Luis Rodriguez Lado

International consultant 

Luis is a soil scientist from Spain with expertise in digital soil mapping, environmental monitoring and data science. He has over 20 years of experience in research and private consulting. Before joining the GSP, he worked in several academic institutions such as the School of Agronomy of Rennes (France), the School of Agronomy "Luiz de Queiroz" in Brazil, the Joint Research Center of the European Commission (Italy), the Federal Institute for Aquatic Research in Dubendorf (Switzerland) as well as in the Department of Soil Science of the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Since 2018, his main work is related to providing scientific support to private and public research centers in the development of environmental protection policies, and the implementation of platforms and sensors for real-time monitoring of soil and water parameters. He joined the GSP in 2023 to provide support for digital soil mapping activities, capacity development, data management, and reporting under the GEF SoilCare project.

[email protected] 

Isabel Luotto

International consultant (Soil Information/Data)

Isabel is a soil information consultant who joined the FAO’s Global Soil Partnership in 2019. She holds a MSc from the University of Hohenheim in Tropical Agricultural Sciences.  She has extensive experience in handling and extracting valuable information from large datasets and has developed a passion for making complex soil data related topics approachable and scalable. Over the years she has trained hundreds of national experts in digital soil mapping and modeling.

[email protected]

Janet Nabwami

Soil scientist

Janet Nabwami is a soil scientist with a background in soil fertility management who joined the GSP Secretariat in 2023 to support the organization  the Global Symposium on Soil and Water. She supports the development and implementation of the Global Soil Doctors Programme ( GSDP) in African Countries. Furthermore, she supports the implementation of RECSOIL pilot projects in African countries. Prior to joining GSP Secretariat , Janet worked as a Soil management Specialist with FAO Uganda and has worked with various institutions and academia as a Researcher/Soil Scientist so we believe that she will be a great asset to the team and make a good contribution to FAO’s work. She holds an MSc in Soil Science and a PhD in Soil and Water Management

[email protected]

John Jacob Parnell

Soil biodiversity specialist

John Jacob Parnell is a soil biodiversity specialist with a broad background in microbial ecology and plant-microbe interactions. Jacob received his BS and MS from Brigham Young University in environmental science and soil chemistry and his PhD from Michigan State University's Center for Microbial Ecology. He has worked as a researcher in academia at Utah State University and North Carolina State University, with industry experience at Novozymes and BiomeMakers, and helped establish the soil ecology program of the National Ecological Observatory Network in the United States. He started working as a soil biodiversity specialist with FAO in 2023 tasked with managing the International Network on Soil Biodiversity (NETSOB) and supporting their efforts to design and implement the Global Soil Biodiversity Observatory (GLOSOB).

[email protected]

Michaela Brown

International consultant (Soil organic carbon and climate change)

Michaela holds a master's degree in Soils and Sustainability from the University of Edinburgh and bachelor's degree in International Agriculture and Rural Development from Cornell University. She brings experience in sustainable soil management, implementation of sustainable agricultural practices, soil carbon sequestration, and stakeholder engagement across the agrifood system. She has worked on farms to design and implement landscape restoration initiatives and in the private sector to develop strategies for farmers to implement sustainable soil management techniques. At the GSP, Michaela is supporting the implementation of the RECSOIL initiative and facilitate soil recarbonization through engagement with farmers, agricultural extension services, and local and national governments.

[email protected]

Newton Nyapwere

International Consultant (Soil information and data)

Newton is a soil and geospatial scientist specializing in soil information and data science. He has more than 15 years’ experience in soil surveys and research as well as 12 years in geospatial data analysis and manipulation. He joined the GSP in November 2023 and is focusing on soil data and information specialization. Before joining FAO, he has previously worked for Chemistry and Soil Research Institute in Zimbabwe. He was also part of the team that carried out national soil mapping project (1: 250000 scale) of Mozambique from 2010-2013. Newton also held several consultant roles at Midlands State University, FAO Zimbabwe, USAID and UNDP. Prior to his current assignment, he has worked as a Soil Prospection and GIS Manager at the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (ARDA) in Zimbabwe. He holds a M.Sc. Geoinformatics, MSc in Information Systems Management, and a BSc. Degree in Soil Science.

[email protected]

Yi Peng

International consultant (soil spectroscopy)

Yi is a soil scientist specialized in soil spectroscopy, soil mapping and geo-spatial modelling with more than 10 years of research and project development experience. He started working with FAO in 2018, mainly supporting the development of soil information systems. Since 2021, he joined GSP Secretariat as GLOSOLAN-Spec coordinator to coordinate activities related to soil spectroscopy, and support digital soil mapping activities. He holds a Ph.D. degree in soil science from Aarhus University, Denmark.

[email protected]

Bellington Mudyawabikwa

Consultant on Soil Laboratory

Bellington is a soil laboratory specialist with expertise in laboratory quality management, analytical method development and soil test results interpretation and validation.  He has over 15 years’ experience working in analytical chemistry laboratories. Prior to joining the GSP, Bellington worked as a laboratory research associate at ICRISAT and has worked as a research officer for various institutions and academia which include the University of Zimbabwe and Tobacco research board (Zimbabwe). Since 2013, he has been mainly working on soil health and more specifically, on the development and validation of soil testing methods in Southern Africa. He joined the GSP in November 2023 to provide support to the SoilFER project as an international laboratory consultant. Bellington holds an MSc. In Chemistry and an MBA.

[email protected]

Imane Slimani

International consultant (Soil fertility and fertilizers)

Imane is a soil biogeochemist who has recently joined FAO to support the activities of the International Network on Fertility and Fertilizers (INSOILFER). Prior to joining FAO, Imane served as Postdoctoral Research Scholar at the University of California-Davis (UC Davis) in the USA, where her focus was on the potential of regenerative agricultural practices to enhance soil health and carbon sequestration. Imane completed her Ph.D. at UC Davis, with her research covering topics related to nutrient cycling and mineral organic matter interactions. Prior to her doctoral studies at UC Davis, she obtained a degree in agricultural engineering from the Agronomic and Veterinary Hassan II Institute in Morocco.

[email protected]

Arturo Varela

International Consultant on Soil Fertility

Arturo, an Industrial Microbiologist, specializes in project management, coordinating soil sampling plans for soil study and characterization, and developing research protocols for biofertilizer production and agricultural microbiology. For six years, he worked at the Secretary of Agriculture and Livestock (SAG) in Honduras, successfully leading projects funded by the USDA and the Rural Development Administration (RDA) of South Korea. Arturo served as Honduras' focal point for the Global Soil Partnership in 2019-20. Presently, he supports the SoilFER project, aligning global objectives with national needs for Honduras and Guatemala.

[email protected]