Least Developed Countries Independent Expert Group

12 June 2013

The UN process provides opportunities for the Least Developed Countries – countries with low levels of socio-economic development – to frame international agendas and demonstrate leadership in developing a post-2015 agenda. The Independent Expert Group was formed in response to this opportunity.

Why a Least-Developed Country expert group?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have the potential to steer international collaboration to deal with the challenge of improving the lives of the poorest people while also reducing the harmful human impacts on ecological systems and resources. A successful and fair outcome will require listening to a diversity of voices and credible research, including voices and research from the least developed countries, or Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

The Independent Expert Group (IEG) aims to provide ideas and challenges that support a more ambitious, effective and fair global set of goals for environmental sustainability and human development.

The Independent Expert Group's mission

The IEG's mission is to ensure that UN-led processes to set international goals for development and sustainability take account of the perspectives and priorities of the LDCs, and promote leadership from the LDCs at the UN level.

To learn more about the IEG's vision for a sustainable future, read the LDC Framework paper [PDF].

Listen to this UN recording of Shaping the Post-2015 Development Agenda: the LDC perspective

Meet the experts

The IEG consists of 12 experts from LDCs, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cameroon, Eritrea, Gambia, Haiti, Mali, Nepal, Senegal, and Uganda. The former prime minister of Haiti, Michèle Duvivier Pierre-Louis, is the Chair. For more information about the experts please read their biographies below.

Fatima Denton

Fatima Denton. Photo: IISDMs. Denton is a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and was a member of UNEP's Scientific Technical Advisory Panel. She also currently works as the co-ordinator for the African Climate Policy Centre, and with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

Ms. Denton previously joined the International Development Research Centre in 2006 to lead on research on adaptation strategies. Prior to this she worked as a senior energy planner with the United Nations Environment Programme in Denmark. She also worked with the energy program of Enda Tiers Monde in Senegal on issues such as sustainable development and climate change vulnerability and adaptation, as well as food security, local governance, water, and energy poverty in the Sahel.

Ms. Denton has written articles on energy poverty, gender and energy, and climate change adaptation. She holds a PhD in political science and development studies from Birmingham University in the UK.

Mariteuw Chimère Diaw

Mariteuw Chimère Diaw. Photo: IISDDr. Diaw is the Director General of the African Model Forest Network and a member of the International Networking Committee of the International Model Forest Network. He is also the convener in Cameroon of the Forest Governance Learning Group, a network active in 11 countries.

Dr. Diaw has worked for 30 years as a researcher, 15 of which as an international scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture. He has led or contributed to several international programmes on adaptive collaborative management, governance, environmental services and rural livelihoods, alternatives to slash and burn agriculture, decentralising environmental management and sustainable forest management.

Dr. Diaw holds a PhD in Economic Anthropology from Laval University, Canada, an MA in Rural Sociology from Michigan State University, America and a Masters in Philosophy and Sociology from the University of Dakar in Senegal. His research interests and publications cover themes such as African history, migrations, fisheries, tenure regimes and property rights, climate change mitigation and REDD, governance of biodiversity and multi-stakeholder landscapes, model forests, participatory action research and interactive social methodologies.

Dipak Gyawali

Dipak GyawaliDr. Gyawali is a hydroelectric power engineer and a political economist who, during his time as Minister of Water Resources in Nepal, initiated reforms in the electricity and irrigation sectors focused on decentralization and promotion of rural participation in governance. He also initiated the first national review and comparison of Nepali laws with the guidelines of the World Commission on Dams.

Dr. Gyawali is chair of the Nepal Water Conservation Foundation and has served as a member of the panel of experts for the Mekong River Commission reviewing its basin development plan. He is the founding chair of Nepal's first liberal arts college, the Nepal School of Social Sciences and Humanities. He has been conducting interdisciplinary research on the interface between technology and society, and has published numerous articles on the topic of water, energy, dams, and climate change issues.

Dr. Gyawali has been involved, inter alia, as guest scholar and researcher at various institutions such as Queen Elizabeth House in Oxford, the Norwegian Center for Research in Organization and Management, the International Environmental Academy in Geneva, the London School of Economics, and the United Nations University in Yokohama as UNESCO visiting professor of water and cultural diversity.

Saleemul Huq

Saleemul HuqDr. Huq is a Senior Fellow at IIED, focusing particularly on issues of climate change. Before joining IIED, he was director of the Bangladesh Center for Advanced Studies, which he founded in 1984. He is founding director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development at the Independent University, Bangladesh.

Dr. Huq is a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), for which he has served as a Lead Author and Coordinating Lead Author in Working Group II, which focuses on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation. He is the lead author of the chapter on Adaptation and Sustainable Development in the third assessment report of the IPCC. He has published reports and articles on climate change, particularly on adaptation to climate change.

Pa Ousman Jarju

Pa Ousman Jarju. Photo: IISDMr. Jarju is the Director of the Department of Water Resources. As Director, he is the chief technical adviser to the government on water resources issues in the Gambia. He is also the focal point of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change of the Gambia, and the lead negotiator of the Gambia.

As the chairman of the national climate change committee, he coordinates and monitors all climate change issues in the Gambia. He is also the Chairperson of the Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation. He was appointed as the Special Climate Change Envoy of the Gambia early this year.

Mr. Jarju has more than seven years of experience in climate change and environmental issues. He was a lead negotiator for the African Group in the Kyoto Protocol matters prior to serving as the Chair of the LDC group from 2011 to 2012, and also served as a member of the Least Developed Countries Expert Group (LEG) from 2008 to 2010.

Farah Kabir

Farah KabirMs. Kabir is currently working as the Country Director of ActionAid Bangladesh and has held this post since 2007. Prior to this, she worked with the British Council for ten years both in the UK, on the Consultant Participative Democracy Governance Team, and in Bangladesh, as the Assistant Director of Governance.

Ms. Kabir is presently a board member of the Campaign for Popular Education, a member of Education Watch and a member of the Funding Committee of Civil Society Education Fund. She has also been a member of the Governance Board of Napier University (Scotland), the Board of Trustees for Zero Tolerance (Scotland), and the Beijing Plus Five National Review Committee with special responsibility for the Women in Politics sub-committee.

Ms. Kabir has been working in the field of development and research for the last 18 years. She studied at the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies. She specializes in governance and women’s issues, particularly women in politics, and has published widely on the topic. She is a longstanding activist on women's rights, gender equality and child rights and has also been a newscaster on both national television and radio, and works with the Children's Film Society in Bangladesh.

Rosebell Kagumire

Rosebell KagumireRosebell Kagumire is a Ugandan multimedia journalist working on peace and conflict issues in eastern Africa. Currently she is the Coordinator for Africans Act for Africa, a network of citizens and activists from across the continent that puts pressure on African governments to step up to various challenges.

Rosebell has worked as an editor and digital campaigner. She has experience in documenting and communicating women's war experiences in Uganda, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She has worked with Isis-Women's International Cross Cultural Exchange (Isis-WICCE) as a communications assistant writing on women in conflict and post-conflict settings on the African continent.

Her blog won the Waxal - Blogging Africa Awardsthe first African journalist blogging awards hosted by the Panos Institute of West Africa in 2009. She is an Internet Freedom Fellow with the US Department of State Human Rights Program designed to promote the work of online activists and journalists to enhance human rights coverage. The World Economic Forum also honoured Rosebell among 200 Young Global Leaders under 40 for 2013.

Essam Mohammed

Essam MohammedDr. Mohammed is an environmental economics researcher with IIED. He was previously the Head of the Fisheries Promotion Unit at the Ministry of Fisheries of Eritrea. In addition to his academic and professional experience as a fisheries scientist, he is an expert in economic valuation of the environment. His research has included economic valuations of artisanal fisheries, influencing policy processes to promote fair and equitable benefit sharing from REDD+ as well as Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES), mainly at the sub-national level. Dr. Mohammed also works on the role of economic instruments in policy mixes for biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services provision; payments for coastal and marine ecosystem services; and economic instruments for sustainable fisheries management.

He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Pastoral and Environmental Network in the Horn of Africa and a Visiting Lecturer on "economic valuation of ecosystem services" at the School of GeoSciences, the University of Edinburgh.

James Murombedzi

James MurombedziDr. Murombedzi has served as the Coordinator of the Responsive Forest Governance Initiative, an initiative focusing on environmental governance in Africa, since 2011. Prior to this, he was the Chief Technical Advisor (Environment and Energy) to the UN Development Programme in Liberia. He was previously the Regional Director for Southern Africa at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and the Environment and Development Programme Officer for Southern Africa with the Ford Foundation. He was a Research Fellow and Lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe for nearly ten years.

Dr. Murombedzi holds a D.Phil in Applied Social Science from the University of Zimbabwe. His research interests include the political economy of environmental and rural development, decentralising land tenure and natural resources management, climate change, resource rights and livelihoods.

Michèle Duvivier Pierre-Louis

Michèle Duvivier Pierre-LouisMs. Pierre-Louis served as Prime Minister of Haiti from September 2008 to November 2009. She is only the second woman to have held this position. During this time she also served as Minister of Justice and Public Security. Ms. Pierre-Louis was a member of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s private cabinet (1991). She has also served in the private sector, and is currently a university teacher.

Ms. Pierre-Louis also created the Fondation Connaissance et Liberté, a non-governmental organisation in Haiti which focuses on education, culture, community development, environment, gender equity and civil society. She directed FOKAL for 13 years before serving as Prime Minister, and returned as President after her term was over.

Ms. Pierre-Louis has an MA in Economics from Queens College of the City University of New York. She holds a "Doctorate Honoris Causa" in Humanities from Saint Michael College in Vermont and was a Resident Fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in 2010.

Youba Sokona

Youba Sokona. Photo: IISDA citizen of Mali, Dr. Sokona focuses on the energy, environment and sustainable development nexus and he has broad experience in Africa in policy development. He is currently a co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group III. In addition, he recently joined the South Centre as a Special Advisor on Sustainable Development. The South Centre is an intergovernmental organization of developing countries intended to meet the need for analysis of development problems and experience, as well as to provide intellectual and policy support.

Dr. Sokona has served as the Coordinator of the African Climate Policy Centre based in the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. He has also served as the Executive Secretary of the Sahara and Sahel Observatory. Prior to this, he worked for the "Environnement et Développement du Tiers Monde" in Dakar, Senegal and served as professor at Ecole Nationale d’Ingenieur of Bamako in Mali.

Throughout his career, Dr. Sokona has served in various advisory capacities to African governments. He has published several books and articles on the issues of energy, environment and development with a focus on Africa.

Chime P. Wangdi

Chime P. Wangdi. Photo: depaixyatra.orgMs. Wangdi has been the Secretary General for the Tarayana Foundation in Bhutan since 2005. Prior to this she worked in the Ministry of Agriculture for 18 years in various capacities. Ms. Wangdi has also been a social worker focusing on the importance and challenges of increasing women's participation and encouraging women leaders in Bhutan.


A 13th expert, Hama Arba Diallo, the Fifth Vice-President of the National Assembly in Burkina Faso, sadly passed away in September 2014.