Keynote Speakers



Rosalaura Romeo

Rosalaura Romeo is a national of Italy.  She holds an M.Sc. in Agriculture from the University of Tuscia and her expertise spans from agricultural and forestry research to international advocacy and donor relations. She is the Coordinator of the Mountain Partnership Secretariat hosted by FAO’s Headquarters.
Rosalaura devoted a large part of her career to the sustainable development of mountain regions and had a crucial role in 2002 in the creation of the Mountain Partnership, the only multi-stakeholder United Nations alliance dedicated to improving the lives of mountain peoples and protecting mountains, with over 500 members around the world.



Dr. Giovanni Di Stasi

Giovanni Di Stasi (Cercemaggiore, April 27, 1950) is an Italian politician. When he was mayor of the municipality of Casacalenda, he promoted important social, economic, and employment initiatives; Twice elected to the Italian Parliament, he was involved in Institutional Reforms, Agriculture, and European Affairs; During his time as President of the Molise Region, he was particularly involved in democratic development planning; As President of the Congress of the Council of Europe, he worked on territorial cooperation and good governance. He theorized and promoted the Adriatic Euroregion and the "Strategy for Innovation and Good Governance at the Local Level." This strategy is being implemented by the Council of Europe. He is currently involved in sustainable development and is the honorary president of the Molise Biodistrict



Sandra Carvão

​​​Sandra Carvão is Chief of Tourism Market Intelligence and Competitiveness at the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) since 2018. Before that, she was Chief, Communications, and Publications for 8 years where she was responsible for UNWTO’s strategic positioning. 

Sandra was Deputy Chief at UNWTO’s Market Trends, Competitiveness and Trade in Tourism between 2007 and 2010. During this period, Sandra coordinated UNWTO Tourism Resilience Committee in the context of the economic crisis of 2008-2009. Prior to joining UNWTO in 2003, Sandra was a market manager at the Portuguese National Tourist Office in Lisbon. Sandra has a degree in International Relations from, the Economics Branch, of the Instituto de Ciências Sociais e Políticas/Universidade Técnica de Lisboa and a postgraduate degree in Marketing from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid.


Dr. Mike Haynes

Dr. Mike Haynes is a seasoned International Project Development and Management Consultant, holding a strong footing in the areas of Heritage Management, Responsible Tourism, and Local Economic Development. Mike has amassed experience from diverse conservation, livelihood, and development projects. His involvement, specifically in South East Asia for 18 years, positions him as a trusted figure in this region. His clients have included notable organizations such as ITC, GIZ, ICIMOD, MIID, UNWTO, WWF, and Fauna & Flora International. His expertise has been harnessed in projects financed by renowned bodies such as SDC, SECO, BMZ, the EU, Danida, UNICEF, and the Government of Luxembourg. Mike is a team leader of the SDC-funded Local Economic Development project in regional Georgia implemented by HELVETAS. His Ph.D. research focused on exploring the intricate relationships between development partners and tourism development policy in Myanmar. 



Arūnas Gražulis

Arūnas Gražulis – regional policy expert from Lithuania, former vice-minister of Interior (in charge of regional policy), currently working as one of Interreg programme’s national contact points for Lithuania and also teaching regional and development policies related subjects at Mykolas Romeris University (Vilnius).

For nearly 20 years A. Gražulis has been working in regional policy, local development, efficient usage of EU funding, cross-border partnership building as well as the development of regional policy tools-related areas at the Association of Local Authorities in Lithuania, Ministry of Interior, Central Project Management Agency, as well as part of the staff of European Parliament, an expert of the European Union Committee of the Regions. Although not affiliated with any political party he has served as a consultant in the development of political parties' electoral programmes.


Prof. Dr. Vishwambhar Prasad Sati

Vishwambhar Prasad Sati, D.Litt. and Ph.D., a Senior Professor of Geography and Resource Management, is currently working at the Mizoram University (A Central University), Aizawl, India. With a teaching career of about three decades,  he has served in several higher education institutions within and outside India, some of them being ‘Eritrea Institute of Technology’, Asmara, Eritrea (NE Africa), ‘Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment’, Chengdu, China, ‘Madhya Pradesh Higher Education’, and ‘HNB Garhwal University’, Srinagar Garhwal. In the same field, he has deeply been involved in research, and has worked as a Visiting Professor and Visiting Scholar in the world’s various renowned research and academic institutions, including ‘The World Academy of Sciences’, ‘Chinese Academy of Sciences’, ‘Indian National Science Academy’, ‘Indian Council of Social Science Research’, and ‘Indian Institute of Advanced Studies’. With more than 160 research papers and articles, and about three dozen books published, his academic contribution is well-documented at national and international levels.


Dawid Lasek

Dawid Lasek Secretary General, Vice-President of the Association of the Carpathian Euroregion Poland. In 2016-2017, Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of Sport and Tourism. He graduated from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow with the faculties of Management and Social Communication and Law and Administration. Studied Political Science at the University of Silesia. The main place in his professional career has been taken by the Carpathian Euroregion and he was the Office Director, the head of cross-border programmes, and since 2007 - the vice president. He has had extensive experience in cooperation with Swiss institutions, where he developed the Carpathian brand "Carpathia" as part of the Swiss programme. He was a member of the sustainable tourism team of the Carpathian Convention. He coordinates the work of the Carpathian Sustainable Tourism Platform of the Carpathian Convention for the duration of the Polish Presidency until 2023.



Prof. Dr. Andreas Muhar

Andreas Muhar studied landscape planning and botany in Vienna. He had research and teaching positions at the University of Technology Vienna, at Griffith University Brisbane, Australia, and recently finished his career as a professor in sustainable landscape development, transdisciplinarity, and knowledge integration at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna. Visiting appointments at Universidad Nacional de Agraria, Lima, Peru, Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, Spain, Stellenbosch University, South Africa, and ETH Zurich, Switzerland, provided extensive international experiences. His current research focus is on sustainability transformation, landscape development in mountainous regions, and tourism.




Dr. Bernat Claramunt López

Doctor, researcher at CREAF, and professor of Ecology at the Department of Plant Biology, Animal Biology, and Ecology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. He has worked in various fields of forest and animal ecology, in arid and semi-arid systems around the world, and in mountain communities. Last 15 years, his activities have been focused on mountain ecosystems, leading projects in the Pyrenees related to the effects that global change may have on the alpine community, in relation to its distribution, the interactions between the various species, and how the human presence changes them. He is involved in projects aiming at understanding the relationships among the social, economic and environmental elements in the mountains. He is part of the Scientific Committee of the Pyrenean Observatory of Climate Change, a member of the Board of Directors of Euromontana, and the coordinator of the Network for European Mountain Research (NEMOR).



Prof. Dr. Joanna Zawiejska

Joanna Zawiejska is an associate professor in geomorphology at the Pedagogical University of Krakow (Department of Physical Geography). Her research interests focus on the following areas: fluvial geomorphology of mountain regions with a particular focus on natural and anthropogenic drivers of change and restoration of ecological quality of rivers, environmental education and education for sustainable development, and environmental perception (iv) sustainable tourism. She is also currently the chair of the international scientific network Science for the Carpathian.





Prof. Dr. Hans Dieter Knapp

Prof. Dr. Hans Dieter Knapp is a geo-botanist and landscape ecologist. He is one of the initiators of the Eastern German national park program and the International Academy for Nature Conservation Island of Vilm. Until his retirement, he has been director of the branch office of German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation. As an honorary professor, he also lectures at Greifswald University. He initiated the “European Beech Forest Initiative”, he was instrumental in the nomination of beech forests of Germany and Europe to the World Heritage List of UNESCO and involved in further nominations in Russia, Mongolia, Iran, and Georgia. His focus within the foundation lies on projects of international cooperation in Eurasia.




Carl Amirgulashvil

Carl Amirgulashvili is the Head of the Biodiversity and Forestry Department at the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia since 2016. He has a master’s degree in Regional Development and Natural Resources Management and in Ecology. He is a Bureau member of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, IUCN Councilor of East Europe, North, and Central Asia for the duration of 2021-2026, and Deputy Head of UNESCO/MAB National Committee of Georgia. He devoted a large part of his career to developing national forest policy, which led to the adoption of the new Forest Code of Georgia in 2020. Currently, he is one of the leading professionals and is actively dedicated to the ongoing protected area policy reform at the national level, which among others, covers the issue of ecotourism development in protected areas. 



Prof. Dr. Norman Backhaus 

Norman Backhaus is a Professor of Human Geography at the University of Zurich and leads the Space, Nature and Society unit. He is also co-director of the Department of Geography and the university's research focus 'Global Change and Biodiversity'. He researches and teaches on processes of spatial appropriation from a social geography perspective in Switzerland and Asia. The focus is on the use of natural resources and its consequences. Landscapes and protected areas and their different services play an important role in this





Dr. Baran Bozoğlu

Dr. Baran Bozoğlu graduated from the Middle East Technical University Environmental Engineering Department and his master's degree at the Department of Urban Policy Planning and Local Administrations. He completed a doctoral thesis on climate change and received his doctorate in 2018. He received Leadership Courses at Georgetown University, Washington DC. In 2007, he worked as Environmental Expert and lead inspector at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry and carried out environmental inspections in many sectors as the Environmental Lead Inspector. Worked as an expert for the US City of Washington DC in 2018 and as the Deputy General Director of Ankara Metropolitan Municipality Water and Sewerage Administration since 2020. He is a lecturer at Hacettepe University Environmental Engineering Department on Environmental Impact Assessment and a chairman of the Climate Change Policy and Research Association, founded in 2018.



Natia Chopliani

Natia Chopliani is an experienced Tourism Development and Communications professional with a demonstrated history of working on international, multidisciplinary development programs. Skilled in research, capacity building, strategic planning, and new tourist product and service development, she holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration, majoring in Organizational Management from Kingston University; She is certified by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council and Wageningen University and Research; She is a board member of the Sustainable Caucasus. She has been a team member of USAID-funded programs in Georgia for 15 years. She works towards fostering regional development and economic growth by introducing new concepts in alignment with environmental, cultural, and social sustainability. Natia provides local consulting services and technical expertise to international development organizations implementing Donor funded initiatives in Georgia. 



Dr. Asif Verdiyev

Mr. Asif Verdiyev, by his academic background, is a hydrology engineer. He has extensive experience working for the Azerbaijan State Committee on Hydrometeorology and the National Hydrometeorological Service of the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Azerbaijan. Since 2020 until today he has been leading Hydrological Centre in the Hydrometeorological Service. He is also an advisor of permanent representatives of Azerbaijan in the WMO. Mr. Verdiyev is actively working with students and young specialists in Azerbaijan in different higher education units. He also authorizes several scientific articles on water resource management and environmental protection in general.




Prof. Dr. Agnieszka Wypych

Agnieszka Wypych is an associate professor in climatology at Jagiellonian University in Krakow. Her main research fields cover climatology, hydroclimatology, and GIS in environmental sciences while her current research interests are mostly weather extremes as well as climate change and variability and its impact on the environment and society. She is currently a head of the Human-Environmental System Research Centre at Jagiellonian University and also a chair of the Commission on Climatology International Geographical Union. 





Ani Ghukasyan

Ani Ghukasyan is a Senior Specialist of the Climate Policy Department (CPD) in the Ministry of Environment, the Republic of Armenia. Main expertise – participates in the development of state policies, plans, strategies, draft legal acts, guidelines for climate change mitigation and adaptation, development of recommendations on the introduction of mechanisms aimed at fulfilling the obligations assumed by international agreements, and environmental treaties on climate change. Participated in the fulfillment of the requirements of the UNFCCC entrusted to the CPD.  She holds Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics and International Communications (Yerevan State Linguistics University, RA). She has experience in public administration bodies - Information Analytical Service of “Hydrometeorology and Monitoring Center” SNCO - collecting and analyzing data received as a result of monitoring environmental and hydrometeorological activities and providing information to state bodies, NGOs, and public


Rana Humbatova

Rana Humbatova is the Head of the Hydrogen and Green Technology Department at Azerbaijan Renewable Energy Agency under the Ministry of Energy. Advocates for the use of energy from renewable sources and is involved in the development of a regulatory framework to ensure the sustainable use of RES and decarbonization strategy for the energy sector. She holds a master's degree in Applied and Computational Mathematics with a special focus on statistical models and algorithms to analyze large‐scale datasets. She is an international expert in the climate change area with around 15 years of professional experience, a member of the UNFCCC roster of experts since 2013 – basic expertise areas: Technical review of GHG inventories and other annual information reported by Annex I Parties (Energy sector) and technical analysis (thematic areas: GHG inventory, mitigation actions, and their effects) Biennial Update Reports of non-Annex I Parties to UNFCCC.