Graduation at UNU-LRT

22 September 2014
The UNU-LRT fellows with the Minister
The UNU-LRT fellows with the Minister

The UNU-LRT six-month training programme 2014 has come to an end. On 18 September, 12 fellows, five women and seven men, graduated in a ceremony held at the Keldnaholt campus of the Agricultural University of Iceland (AUI).  The UNU-LRT fellows this year came from Ethiopia, Ghana, Mongolia, Niger, Uganda and Uzbekistan.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, addressed the fellows and the invited guests. In his speech he emphasized the dedication of Icelandic authorities to combating land degradation and restoring degraded land. This is evident by the fact that the Minister invited Ms Monique Barbut, the Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) to Iceland this year and that the UNU-LRT Director Dr Hafdis Hanna Aegisdottir was invited to be the key-note speaker at a panel discussion in New York planned by Iceland in connection with the negotiations on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There Dr Aegisdottir emphasized the importance of capacity building within the field of land restoration. Iceland is also one of the founders of the ‘Group of Friends of Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought’ which was initiated last year and aims at having desertification, land degradation and drought addressed in the new SDGs. The Ministers speech can be accessed here.   

The UNU-LRT Acting Director, Ms Berglind Orradottir also gave a speech at the ceremony as did Dr Magnus Johannsson on behalf of the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland and Dr Aslaug Helgadottir, vice rector of AUI. Two fellows, Mr Godwin Poreku from Ghana and Ms Yulduzkhon Abdullaeva from Uzbekistan spoke on behalf of the 2014 cohort of fellows.

Since the Land Restoration Training Programme was launched in 2007, 63 fellows have graduated from the programme, 30 women and 33 men. The programme has partnered with institutions in 11 countries from the beginning but is now actively cooperating with 9 countries in Central Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.