Award and Assessment Team


Carolina Adler, PhD

Geographer and Environmental Scientist

Dr Carolina Adler is President of the UIAA Mountain Protection Commission and a geographer and environmental Scientist with over twenty years of professional experience in the public and private sectors internationally. Earlier in 2010, she completed an award-winning PhD on climate change adaptation in mountain regions. Her ongoing research work as Research Fellow at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, centre on problem-oriented approaches that clarify on how science can best serve policy and society in dealing with the effects and challenges of global change. Since May 2017, Carolina has taken on the role as Executive Director of the Mountain Research Initiative (MRI), hosted by the Swiss Academies of Sciences.

Maretha Alant

Environmental Planner

Maretha Alant has 20 years of experience in protected area planning and conservation management. She has climbed mountains in 18 countries and is currently the Environmental Planner for South African National Parks (SANParks) in the Garden Route and Frontier Regions. Current projects include establishing conservation corridors on private land, invasive alien vegetation clearing in mountain catchments and high priority biodiversity areas and commenting on Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) in Mountain areas and on private properties that could affect the ecological integrity of National Parks.

Jan Ivar Bøe

Media Relations

Jan Ivar Bøe is a member of Norwegian Alpine Club, and has earlier been a board member for the club. Since the late 1980 he has been a climber and ski-mountaineer. In his professional life, Jan Ivar works at the Akershus County Council, where he is responsible for media relations.

Valeska Buchemi de Oliveira

Environmental Researcher

Valeska was born in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Initially purely a hobby, Valeska’s interest in the mountains became part of her studies at college with a focus on research and environmental protection. In 2011, she started to practice rock climbing and mountaineering in both Asia and South America. Since 2013 she has been associated to Serra do Cipo Climbers Association (AESC), and to “Mineira” Climbing Association (AME), contributing to climbing development. Valeska is currently running a Working Group at AESC dedicated to trail management and minimal impact, as well as running a management plan at Baú Rocks (a noted rock site in her home state). She has also worked with local guides at Serra do Cipo to construct an association, one involved in directly combatting fires at the Serra do Cipo National Park. She also is founder of a Research Institute ( that deals with scientific and conservation research, and scientific tourism. She also is affiliated to CEM, a state trekking club, where she lectures about environmental conservation, and performs reforestation programmes with volunteers.

Steve Goodwin

Mountaineer and writer

At the turn of the millennium after a career as a political journalist on The Independent and The Times, he quit the surreal “Westminster village” for a real village in Cumbria. For 10 years (2004-2013) he was editor of the Alpine Journal, the oldest mountaineering journal in the world, while also freelance writing on travel, the environment and just a dash of politics.  A climber and ski-mountaineer, in 1998 he reached the south summit of Everest, filing an award-winning diary to The Independent.

Since then he has returned to the Himalaya most years as well as climbing, trekking and ski-touring in the Alps, Andes and Turkey. He is the author of Lake District Climbs and Scrambles (2015, Vertebrate) and Day Walks in the Lake District (2009, Vertebrate).  He also contributed a chapter on Upper Dolpo to Trekking in the Himalaya published in 2013 by Cicerone.

Mike Maunsell

F.R.G.S. Mountain Geographer & Environmental Scientist

Mike has worked in mountain environments throughout the world for over 35 years as a Mountaineer, Geographer, Environmental Scientist and Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.
He is a Lecturer in Conservation & Biodiversity Management at the Department of Applied Science, Limerick Institute of Technology, Ireland.  Mike serves on the Board of Directors Mountaineering Ireland, where he is Chair of Access & Conservation.
Mike’s research Interests are in mountain ecosystems and citizen science, he has lead successful community-based citizen science projects, to protect and record biodiversity in Ireland’s mountain regions. Mike established Mountain Research Ireland to protect mountain environments through research & collaboration.

Amin Moein

Air pollution engineer – mountain guide – alpinist

Amin, a member of the MPC since 2014, is a full member of the BMC and President of the MP Commission of the Iran Mountaineering and Sport Climbing Federation.

His published work includes: Noshaq, a different peak 2010 (about his journey in Hindukosh) . Climbing Dictionary 2016 (English to Persian mountain terms). Mountain Environment Protection 2018 (about mountain ecosystems and the ways of protecting the mountains). Amin also conducted a research paper ‘Assessment of SO2and H2S emission from Damavand volcano 5610m and it’s dispersion in south face’ in 2015/2016.

Amin founded Iran’s first mountain environment course which has educated some 3,000 mountaineers in three years.

Joop Spijker

Senior Researcher at Wageningen Environmental Research, part of Wageningen University

Joop Spijker born on the 9 December 1959 in Schiedam, The Netherlands. Joop climbed his first summit in 1974 in Switzerland (The Rautispitz, 2284m). He began mountaineering in 1980 and guided mountain walking and glacier tours for the Dutch Federation from 1988 until 2009. Since 1991 he has worked as a volunteer for Mountain Protection in various commissions like the NMGA, the CIPRA, NKBV and the UIAA Mountain Protection Commission. 
In his professional life Joop works in the field of nature, forest and urban green management.



Björn Alfthan

Climate Change and Mountain Waste Expert

Björn Alfthan is the Programme leader for mountains at GRID-Arendal (, a Norwegian foundation and collaborating centre of UN Environment. Since 2014, he has led GRID-Arendal´s involvement in the Himalayan Climate Change Adaptation Programme in collaboration with the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), working to communicate the impacts of climate change on the region and possible solutions through innovative and visual communication products and interaction with policy makers. He also has an interest in mountain waste, biodiversity and sustainability issues, and was the editor of the 2016 UN Environment report, “Waste Management Outlook for Mountain Regions”.

Alton C. Byers, PhD

Senior Research Associate and Faculty
Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research
University of Colorado at Boulder

Alton C. Byers, Ph.D. is Senior Research Associate and Faculty at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR), University of Colorado at Boulder and Senior Fellow at The Mountain Institute.  He is a geographer, mountaineer, National Geographic Explorer, and photographer specializing in applied research, high mountain climate change, community-based glacier flood risk reduction, and alpine conservation and restoration programs. He regularly lectures and has published widely on a range of applied high mountain research topics in the Himalayas, Andes, East African Highlands, Altai, Appalachians, and other mountain ranges of the world.  His most recent book is entitled “Khumbu Since 1950” which documents cultural, climate, and landscape change in the Mt. Everest region of Nepal through a unique collection of historic (ca. 1950) and repeat photographs.

Stuart Gray

Mountaineer, Geographer, Businessperson

Stu lives in Auckland, New Zealand and has a longstanding interest in human impacts on mountain and wild environments. He is a geographer by training, FRGS (Fellow, Royal Geographical Society, London) and a past president of the New Zealand Alpine Club (NZAC). Stu is the Oceania Continental Representative on the UIAA Management Committee.

Most of Stu’s professional career was in the world of international business as an executive with Fonterra, a large dairy co-operative owned by New Zealand farmers. Fonterra operates globally with a strong focus on building sustainable agricultural & business practices. Stu has lived for extended periods in Australia and the Middle East as well as his New Zealand home.

He is an active mountaineer with a particular love for journeys in remote mountain environments. As well as spending as much time as possible in the challenging New Zealand back country Stu has climbed and trekked in South America, Tibet, the Himalaya (Nepal and India), Central Asia and Europe.

Matthias Jurek

UN Programme Management Officer

Matthias manages flagship projects and initiatives related to sustainable mountain development focusing on climate change adaptation, ecosystem management, environmental governance and use of earth observation. He spearheads several initiatives in mountain regions including the Andes, Central Asia, Caucasus and East Africa.

While based in Vienna, Matthias works closely with other units and divisions such as the Terrestrial Ecosystems Unit, GRASP, Asia Pacific Office and Latin America and the Caribbean Office, as well as UN Environment’s collaborating centre GRID-Arendal.

Matthias currently manages the Luxembourg-funded “Vanishing Treasures” programme promoting climate-smart wildlife conservation and Ecosystem-based adaptation in Virunga, Central Asia and Bhutan as well as leads UN Environment’s “Mountain Heroes” initiative that aims to promote sustainability in the mountain sports and outdoor sector.

Matthias graduated in law at the University of Vienna, specializing in international law and relations with a focus on environmental issues. He previously worked with UN Environment’s collaborating centre GRID-Arendal, EURAC Research and served in the Legal Office of the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs. He has furthermore worked for various NGOs and think tanks on security, peace and disarmament, as well as other institutions. Matthias is a passionate mountaineer and climber, and has a strong passion for Arctic-related issues.

Leif Inge Magnussen, PhD

IFMGA Guide, President of the Norwegian Mountain Guides Association, and President of the IFMGA Environment and Access Commission

Dr Leif Inge Magnussen, is a Norwegian IFMGA Mountain Guide, educationalist and a climber. Besides a lifelong commitment to mountaineering, Leif currently works within the field of leadership development and innovation processes at the University of Southeastern Norway. His research interest covers the fields of emergency preparedness training and outdoor education. His PhD thesis dwelled around the potential “Bildung” and meaning making processes connected to learning in the outdoor adventures. His adventure  research explores the movement between safety and risk, the familiar and the unfamiliar. Leif is President for the Norwegian Mountain Guides Association ( and the IFMGA Environmental and Sustainable Access Commission (

Jorge Recharte

Director of The Mountain Institute Program in the Andes region

Jorge is an anthropologist, Director of The Mountain Institute Program in the Andes region.  He has designed and implemented multiple community-based conservation projects, cooperating with a network of mountain conservation groups in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Chile and Brasil.
He is visiting professor in the Animal Science Faculty of Agrarian University La Molina in Lima, Perú, teaching courses on social dimensions of pastoralism in mountain regions, and member of the Board of Directors of the Instituto del Bien Común in Peru.

Marjorie van Strien

Tourism specialist

Marjorie van Strien is a tourism and livelihood development consultant with over 10 years of international experience. In recent years, she has developed an expertise in sustainable development and management of mountain tourism across the Hindu Kush Himalaya. She is currently based in Idaho, USA, where she is pursuing her PhD.

Marjorie has been engaged as a tourism expert for international development organizations, including International Centre of Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), SNV Netherlands Development Organisation and UN World Tourism Organisation, as well as different non-governmental organizations in various countries in South and South-East Asia, South America and Europe.

Gabriela Wülser

Executive Officer Sustainability Research Initiative, Swiss Academy of Sciences

Gabriela is an expert in sustainability science and transdisciplinarity. She has been managing funding programmes on sustainability initiatives at universities and working on tools to support academic knowledge co-production in heterogeneous teams. Gabriela is an Environmental Scientist by training and holds a doctorate from ETH Zurich. Her research has predominantly been in the field of science studies, focusing on how to orientate research for sustainable development to actual real world issues, amongst other things.