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James founded Challenging Heights in 2003 to protect children from slavery and trafficking. A former child slave as of the age of six, James was forced to work in the fishing industry of Volta Lake for seven years. After escaping from slavery, James put himself through school, up to the University level, where he earned a bachelor’s in Psychology and Master’s degree in Communication and Media Studies, and later an Honorary Doctorate Degree from the Grand Valley University, Grand Rapids, Michigan. James served as the Chair of the Board of Family for Every Child, a UK-based international alliance, for six years. He was a Commissioner of the UN backed Global Financial Sector Commission on Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery. He is currently a member of the International Panel of Experts on the Advisory Board of the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking.
Clare Shakya has 30 years of experience in climate resilient development, covering natural resources, energy and water systems. Prior to IIED, she spent 15 years with the UK’s DFID (now FCDO) where she led on developing their climate change response in Africa and Asia. Clare is responsible for oversight of research of IIED’s Climate Change Group who work with the people having limited voice in decision making, to co-create solutions that shape pathways and drive action for a just and sustainable future. This includes work on getting Money Where It Matters, tackling the challenges across the climate finance landscape to devolve authority and resources to local actors and develop agile and inclusive institutions capable of tackling the climate, nature and poverty crises. And it includes supporting the Least Developed Countries on the LDC Initiative For Effective Adaptation and Resilience, that aims to develop transformational mechanisms that invest resources behind communities’ priorities.
Ritu Bharadwaj has more than 18 years of senior policy development, research and management experience in government, funding agencies and international NGOs. She has worked extensively on climate resilience, resource conservation, social protection, migration and gender issues. Over the years her work has helped develop robust evidence-based research that has influenced policy framework and strategies for numerous institutions and organizations, including national governments, international development and humanitarian organizations. Her experience spans across issues of climate change, disaster risk reduction and migration and how it interacts with climate induced migration. She has particular understanding on how to align development and social protection programs to prevent climate induced displacement and distress migration. Having provided leadership on policy and program design, she is seen as an important resource in the think tank of several institutions, particularly with government agencies, where she has contributed to the overall strategy, learning and advocacy agendas.
Cecilia is the Director for Cooperation of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Environment of the Republic of Angola and is the lead negotiator for the adaptation agenda for Angola and one of the lead negotiators for the Least Developed Countries under the UNFCCC process. Cecilia is a Co-Chair of the Adaptation Committee of the UNFCCC since January 2020 and, is a Member of the Committee since 2016 representing the Least Developed Countries.
Dr. Somnath Hazra is a trained Ecological and Climate Change Economist, with expertise in Climate Change Economics, Migration, Sustainable Development, Ecosystem Services, Environmental valuation and policy analysis. He has vast research and teaching (undergraduate and postgraduate) experience with various research centres and universities in India. Dr. Hazra is currently associated with the School of Oceanographic Studies, Jadavpur University, India. He has over 15 years of teaching, consulting and advisory experience with government, bi-lateral and multi-lateral agencies. He is also an ex-visiting researcher at the Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3), Bilbao, Spain. Dr. Hazra has worked as an International Consultant Economist for the Ministry of Finance, Government of Kenya. He is currently associated with IIED as a consultant Climate Economist and is also a Climate Advisor with other international consulting organisations. In 2020, he published a book on “Sustainable Development Goals: An Indian perspective”, which was published by Springer Nature, Switzerland.
Fran Witt has over 30 years international development experience, with an emphasis on climate justice, economic justice, development finance and international human rights. As a consultant in development finance advocacy, Fran has worked to support and advise Eurodad, the Financial Transparency Coalition, the Global Alliance for Tax Justice, Publish What You Fund and Financial Justice Ireland, as well as working with Anti-Slavery International to build their Climate Change and Modern Slavery strategy. Previously Fran worked as International Advocacy Manager at Christian Aid where she worked with staff, international partners and coalitions to influence the UNFCCC climate negotiations, including COP21 in Paris. She was instrumental in establishing the Big Shift Global campaign which has strongly influenced energy investment policy at the World Bank. Fran holds an MSc in Violence, Conflict and Development from SOAS, University of London, and is a fluent Spanish speaker, and proficient in French.