Jörg Balsiger Chairman, Professor of Sustainable Development at the University of Geneva, has 25 years of experience in research, teaching, and practice. His areas of specialty are local and international environmental sustainable development governance with a special focus on transboundary regions such as mountain areas. Prior to embarking on an academic career, he worked for several years as an international expert in forest policy and administration, capacity building, and donor coordination for international public and non-governmental organizations in the United States, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Jörg Balsiger currently serves as Chair of the Mountain Research Initiative.


Robert Atkinson is an organisational development and civil society advisor working internationally from Geneva, Switzerland. With clients located across Europe and further afield, his current work revolves around providing institutional and organisational development advice to non-profits, government aid programmes, and grant-giving foundations. He also acts as a monitoring expert for the European Union’s LIFE NGO Operating Grant programme. In the past, he served as a director of civil society support programmes across Eastern and Central Europe and Central Asia, providing capacity building and network development and awarding grants. He holds a PhD in organisational change.


Azer Garaev has in-depth experience working on environmental issues in Azerbaijan and other Caucasus countries. He has over 25 years of experience in the environmental NGO sector on national and regional levels and in-depth knowledge of the governmental institutions and legal frameworks of the South Caucasus environmental sector. He is experienced in managing various environmental projects that have been supported by different donors including international organisations. He is an editor and author of several education manuals and tutorials and an international magazine on environmental issues. He has experience in the design and organisation of special trainings, events, contests and other public awareness and communication activities about the environment.


Natia Chopliani has over 10 years of extensive hands-on experience in the tourism industry at the international level and is a certified member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC). She has a high level of proficiency in communications, public outreach and event management and holds a master’s degree in business administration.


Kakha Artsivadze holds a PhD in Biophysics and has more than 30 years of professional experience in managing projects in the fields of biodiversity conservation, land degradation, forest management, climate change, integrated policy development and integrated environmental management. He also has more than 20 years of teaching and supervisory experience. Kakha is a member of the Group of Experts on Biodiversity and Climate Change of the Bern Convention.