Achieving sustainable resource use in the tropics is one of the greatest challenges we face today and one that can hardly be achieved by acting alone. Traditional sectorial approaches have not proven to be the most effective  when approaching such a complex issue. Collaborations between businesses, local communities, indigenous peoples, non-profits, government, and academic institutions, are slowly, but increasingly being considered the most viable way to achieve our goals. Yet, oftentimes, partnerships are not strategically created and fall short on their impact… How can we frame our problems to make them manageable? What are the main issues that partnerships in the tropics are trying to address? How do we create meaningful partnerships? What are the main challenges faced when building these relationships and how do we overcome them? How can partnerships create mutual value? Can partnerships make a genuine impact on the ground? These are some of the questions that will be addressed by this high-level panel composed of professionals from varied backgrounds. Experts will offer diverse perspective to help us unpack these complex issues in different scales, sectors and fields.


Dominique Bikaba

Executive Director, Strong Roots Congo
Dominique is the Executive Director of Strong Roots Congo, a conservation and sustainable development organization based in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which he helped creating in 2009. While working to find and achieve local solutions to environmental issues in Central Africa,  Strong Roots partners with other conservation bodies, universities, national research institutions and private sector to support conservation at Kahuzi-Biega National Park and adjacent forests. Current projects include development of corridors with community-based forests between protected areas for wildlife management while supporting livelihoods alternatives for local and indigenous communities on the landscape. 
Dominique has worked in the region for over 20 years now managing and supporting conservation and sustainable development programs that  balance  the  needs  of  local people  with  those  of  forests  and  wildlife. The last 12 months, Dominique has been managing the Maiko - Tayna - Kahuzi-Biega - Itombwe landscape under the USAID Central Africa Forest Ecosystems Conservation (CAFEC) project, of the Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment (CARPE). This landscape is the sole natural habitat worldwide for the endemic Grauer’s gorillas, which has dramatically declined from about 17,000 individuals in 1998 to less than 3800 today. Dominique holds a Master degree from the Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a Bachelor’s degree in rural development from ISDR College in DRC. 

Gary Dunning

Executive Director, The Forest Dialogue

Gary is the Executive Director of The Forests Dialogue (TFD), an organization based at Yale University in New Haven, CT, USA. TFD was created in 1999 to provide global and regional leaders in the forest sector with a neutral, multi-stakeholder dialogue (MSD) platform and process focused on developing mutual trust and a shared understanding while working towards collaborative solutions to the challenges in achieving sustainable forest management and forest conservation around the world. Gary is the first Executive Director of TFD’s Secretariat, since bringing it to Yale in 2000.  Gary works with a diverse 25 person strong, international Steering Committee to set priority on key forest related issues and develop multi-stakeholder dialogue-based initiatives to address those issues.  He oversees a small, Yale based staff.

Gary has been working on forest related issues for over 25 years and leading MSD’s since 1995.  Gary was the founding Executive Director of the Yale University’s Global Institute of Sustainable of Forestry and helped to create and lead the Yale Forest Forum. He was also the National Roundtable Coordinator for the Seventh American Forest Congress and the US Liaison to the World Commission on Forests and Sustainable Development. Gary was a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya where he taught agroforestry and forest extension techniques at the Kenya Forestry College in Londiani.  He holds a Master of Forestry degree from the Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a Bachelor’s degree from Humboldt State University in California.

Elmedina Krilasevic

Programme Officer, Forest Landscape Restoration, IUCN

Elmedina has over 10 years experience developing solutions on a broad set of policy issues, and managing the practical challenges of biodiversity conservation, environmental governance, climate change, desertification and land degradation, community engagement, environmental and social safeguards, and project monitoring and evaluation.  

As part of IUCN’s Global Forest and Climate Change Programme, Elmedina manages a portfolio of forest landscape restoration projects which aim to scale-up restoration activities through landscape approaches as a strategy to address cross-sectoral and multi-stakeholder issues.

Prior to joining IUCN, Elmedina collaborated with UN organizations and various international development institutions such as the World Bank, IFC and EBRD, as a specialist and project manager, working on development projects and strategic initiatives in both public and private sectors in South-East Europe, Central Asia and Latin America.

She holds a Forest Policy and Economics Master’s Degree and was a Fulbright Scholar at Yale FES. 

Chris Meyer 

Senior Manager, Tropical Forest Policy, Environmental Defense Fund 

Meyer has built a career around collaboration with different sectors, professions, and geographies. For nearly the last 8 years he has worked on a multidisciplinary team at the Environmental Defense Fund and now leads their tropical forest policy engagement at the UNFCCC and in multilateral processes. For his job, Meyer routinely collaborates with indigenous peoples, scientists, and experts from outside his organization to execute policy advocacy and generate relevant scientific information. Additionally, Meyer engages with the private sector on how to best integrate their zero-deforestation supply chain commitments with REDD+ policy.

Meyer could have been a fourth generation forester, but instead studied finance for his undergraduate and international relations/development for his masters. Indirectly, he happily finds himself in the family profession and has high hopes his two young children will pursue the forestry profession.

Sarah Price

Head, Projects and Development, PEFC International 

Sarah Price is Head of Projects & Development at PEFC International in Geneva.  Her work focuses on expanding PEFC certification internationally in both forests and markets. Working in the forest sector for over 15 years, Sarah’s experience spans the full spectrum: from operational forestry to international forest policy. She has held positions with The Forest Trust and The Forests Dialogue, and has spent many years living and working in the forests of North America, South America and Southeast Asia.

Sarah possesses a Masters of Forest Science from Yale University and a Bachelors of Science in Natural Resource Conservation from the University of British Columbia.


Seth Shames 

Director of Innovations in Policy and Markets, EcoAgriculture 

Seth Shames leads EcoAgriculture’s analysis of policies and financial mechanisms to support integrated agricultural landscape management and directs EcoAgriculture’s policy advocacy work. His areas of work have included finance for integrated landscape management, climate-smart agriculture, payments for ecosystem services, the integration of agricultural issues into the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, environment and development policies in East Africa, eco-labelling of agricultural products and sustainable biofuels production.

In addition to his work at EcoAgriculture Partners, Seth has studied agricultural land management systems in Ethiopia and Peru and organized Community Supported Agriculture groups in New York City. He holds a Masters of Environmental Science from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a BA in Anthropology and Environmental Science from Columbia University.

Dr. Amy Vedder

McCluskey Fellow and Lecturer, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies 

Dr. Amy Vedder has worked in applied conservation for more than 30 years, using ecological and social science to conserve wildlife and wildlands. She currently teaches in the graduate program of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, focusing on the practice of international conservation. Formerly, Dr. Vedder served as Senior Vice President for Conservation at The Wilderness Society (TWS), senior advisor to the Rwandan Environment Management Authority, Vice President at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and Director of the WCS Africa Program.

Vedder is known for her pioneering ecological studies of mountain gorillas in Rwanda during the late 1970s and as co-founder, with her husband Dr. Bill Weber, of the Mountain Gorilla Project – an interdisciplinary program that addressed diverse local, national, and international interests. Among publications, she co-authored the critically acclaimed book “In the Kingdom of Gorillas,” and co-edited “African Rainforest Ecology and Conservation,” published by Yale University Press.