Sarah Lebel

Sarah Lebel is a postdoctoral scholar with STAP, conducting research and supporting the team’s work on climate change adaptation for least developed countries. She has a background in Bioresource Engineering from McGill University (Canada), where she primarily worked on natural resources management and food security issues in Peru and India in collaboration with the CGIAR. She then went on to complete a PhD at the University of Leeds (UK), supporting the Water Harvesting for Rainfed Africa (WAHARA) project. In that role, she developed integrated and multi-methods approaches to assess the sustainability and climate change adaptation potential of different water management technologies in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, and Tunisia.

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Virginia Gorsevski

Virginia Gorsevski comes to the STAP Secretariat with nearly two decades of experience working in the field of conservation and climate change in the United States and in developing countries. As a Programme Officer in the STAP Secretariat, Virginia is responsible for managing the biodiversity portfolio which includes developing practical guidance on issues related to protected area management and the illegal trade in wildlife. Prior to joining STAP, Virginia worked as a Program Manager at the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to develop projects and programs aimed at mitigating climate change through energy efficiency and renewable energy.

More recently she turned her focus toward monitoring land cover and land use change using satellite remote sensing as a researcher at the University of Maryland, where she received her Ph.D in Geographical Sciences. Her research focused on the impact of conflict on forest cover in South Sudan. Virginia also holds a Master’s Degree in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and a Bachelor’s Degree in International Affairs from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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Christopher Whaley

Christopher Whaley is a senior policy adviser with extensive experience of global agreements on climate change, biodiversity, chemicals, forestry, and sustainable development, working in the U.K., EU, internationally, as a diplomat and in the UN system.

At the U.K. Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, Christopher was Head of EU and International responsible for leadership and guidance on international environmental and sustainable development policy, including agriculture, food security, climate change, biodiversity, water, oceans, and sustainable consumption and production (2006-2015). He was a member of the U.K. team negotiating Sustainable Development Goals.

Christopher is a former STAP Secretary (2003-05).

From 1997 to 2001, Christopher was Counsellor at the British Embassy in Washington DC, representing the U.K. on science, technology, energy and the environment with the US administration, on Capitol Hill, with business, academia and non-governmental organisations. 

In addition, Christopher has served as: Business Development Manager at Canary Wharf Limited, a privately-owned property development company redeveloping London's docklands; Visiting Fellow at the World Resources Institute; Visiting Foreign Scholar at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, sponsored by the German Marshall Fund; and Chair of SEED, a non-governmental organisation which supports sustainable development projects in developing countries.  

Christopher holds an undergraduate degree in economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a masters degree in mathematical economics from the University of Birmingham.


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Sunday Leonard

Sunday Leonard joined the STAP Secretariat in April 2017. Prior to the joining the Secretariat, Sunday worked as the Special Assistant to the Chief Scientist of UNEP. His responsibilities included leading and managing projects and activities of the Chief Scientist Office targeted at bridging the science-policy gap and ensuring the scientific credibility of UNEP's work. His work focused on implementing processes and developing science-based policy-focused reports that help policymakers at the local, regional, and global levels make informed decisions that ensure development that is sustainable.

Since joining UNEP in January 2011, he led several projects including the UNEP Global Foresight Process on Emerging Environmental Issues and the UNEP Foresight Process on Sustainable Development Challenges and Opportunities in Small Island Development States (SIDS). In addition, Sunday has worked in developing several UNEP reports focus of various themes including climate change mitigation and adaptation; agriculture and food security; air pollution and human health; freshwater, marine & oceans; chemicals and wastes; energy; disaster risk reduction and resilience; and sustainable development goals (SDGs).

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Guadalupe Durón

Guadalupe Duron is Program Officer at the Secretariat of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) to the Global Environment Facility (GEF). She joined the STAP Secretariat in 2002. Her main tasks included managing a database of experts on environmental issues, and assisting STAP organize expert meetings to develop technical and policy advice for the GEF. Most recently, she began to work specifically on GEF sustainable land management activities. In doing so, she supports STAP to develop and deliver strategic advice for the GEF land degradation portfolio. She also supports STAP’s work on cross-cutting topics, such as land use and climate change. Guadalupe holds a Master of Science Degree in Development Studies with a focus on Agriculture, Environment, and Development from the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom.

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Robin Burgess

Robin began working with UNEP in 1997, supporting the Division of Global Environment Facility’s (GEF) Liaison Office, located in Washington, DC. Since 2002, she has been providing support on office administration and programmatic matters to the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) of the Global Environment Facility (GEF). Besides providing local administrative and financial support, she works collaboratively with colleagues at UNEP Headquarters and UNOPS to manage the contracting, financial, and procurement needs of STAP and organizes logistical arrangements for global STAP meetings.  Prior to joining UNEP, Robin supported a large team of commercial real estate brokers in the DC area. She has more than 20 years of experience in office administration, logistical arrangements, and finance.

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