The annual six-month training programme came to an end this week when 11 specialists graduated from the programme at a ceremony at Keldnaholt research campus of the Agricultural University of Iceland. The total number of graduated fellows has now reached 87 of which 48% have been women and 52% men. The fellows this year came from seven different countries in Central Asia and Africa: Ghana, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Malawi, Mongolia, Niger and Uganda. Lesotho is a new UNU-LRT partner country and this was the first time that fellows from Lesotho participated in the training programme.
The Permanent Secretary of State, Mr Stefan Haukur Johannesson, and the Rector of the Agricultural University of Iceland, Dr Björn Thorsteinsson, handed out the graduation certificates to the fellows. Mr Johannesson gave a speech where he stressed the importance of land restoration and sustainable land management to improve food-security and to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Dr Arni Bragason, the new Director of the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland (SCSI) and the Chair of the UNU-LRT Board, also gave a speech and shared his positive experience of receiving his first UNU-LRT group of fellows in Gunnarsholt, the Headquarters of SCSI. Dr Hafdis Hanna Aegisdottir, the UNU-LRT Director, addressed the fellows and the invited guests as well. Finally two of the graduating fellows, Ms Mariama Boubou Diallo Oumarou from Niger and Mr Zhyrgalbek Kozhomberdiev from Kyrgyzstan gave a speech on behalf of the fellows.
This was the tenth graduation of fellows from the Land Restoration Training programme which became a part of the United Nations University (UNU) in 2010.