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Selected Speakers

Petr Jehlička | Senior Lecturer in Environmental Geography at the Open University, UK
Petr Jehlička holds a degree in geography from Charles University, Prague and a PhD in social and political sciences from Cambridge University. In the last decade his research has focused on food relocalisation, East European informal food economies and the implications of these practices for social resilience, food security and environmental sustainability. Most recently this has led to the interest in the unequal geography of knowledge production and context-dependent hierarchies of knowledge claims. The outcomes of his research were published in a range of journals including Sociologia Ruralis, Journal of Rural Studies, Social Indicators Research, Geoforum and Local Environment. For open access to these publications visit

George Rapsomanikis ǀ Senior Economist, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Italy
George Rapsomanikis is a Senior Economist in the FAO Trade and Markets Division, where he leads the Commodity Markets and Development Team. His work focuses on issues related to the contribution of trade and markets to food security, agricultural development and economic growth. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Reading (UK) and has authored many journal articles and book chapters, including research on commodity price bubbles, volatility spill-overs, the relationship between prices in the food and energy sectors, and the integration of small family farms in markets. Since 2011, he has supported the G20 and the G7 in their discussions on global agriculture and food security. He has been the Technical Editor of the FAO Commodity Market Review (2007-2010), The State of Food Insecurity in the World (2013, 2014, and 2015), the UNCTAD-FAO Commodities and Development Report (2017), and The State of Agricultural Commodity Markets (2018).

Aleksandr Gevorkyan | Henry George Chair in Economics and Associate Professor of Economics, Peter J. Tobin College of Business at St. John’s University, USA
Dr. Aleksandr V. Gevorkyan is Henry George Chair in Economics and Associate Professor of Economics at the Department of Economics and Finance of the Peter J. Tobin College of Business at St. John’s University in New York City. Dr. Gevorkyan is a Senior Research Fellow at the Vincentian Centre for Church and Society, a Research Fellow at the Center for Global Business Stewardship, a Board Member at the Armenian Economic Association and Henry George School of Social Science. Dr. Gevorkyan also serves as Economics Subject Matter Expert for the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See To the United Nations. Dr. Gevorkyan’s teaching and research experience covers themes in open economy macroeconomics, macroeconomic policy, economic development, international financial economics, labor migration, and post-socialist transition economics. Dr. Gevorkyan is the author of Transition Economies: Transformation, Development, and Society in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union (Routledge, 2018) and co-editor (with Otaviano Canuto) of Financial Deepening and Post-Crisis Development in Emerging Markets (Palgrave MacMillan in 2016).

Stephen Wegren ǀ Professor of Political Science, Southern Methodist University, USA
Professor Wegren’s research focuses on the study of communist and post-communist systems and on Russia. He is the author or co-author of 17 books and more than 150 articles and book chapters. His most recent books are "Food Policy and Food Security in Russia: Putting Food on the Russian Table" (2018); and "Putin's Russia: Past Imperfect, Future Uncertain" (2018). Professor Wegren holds a PhD from Columbia University. He is Director of the International and Area Studies Program at Southern Methodist University. His current research interests are food security and food trade.

Heather Xiaoquan Zhang ǀ Senior Lecturer at the University of Leeds, UK
Heather Xiaoquan Zhang is Senior Lecturer in Chinese Social Studies at the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies, University of Leeds, UK. She holds a MA in journalism from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a MSc in social science from Edinburgh University, and a PhD in politics from Strathclyde University, UK. She specialises in social development in China and Vietnam. Her recent research has focused on livelihoods, rural-urban migration and urbanisation; agricultural and rural development; urban-rural relations and synergies; social policy, welfare and wellbeing; ageing and elderly care; inclusionary and sustainable development of the city. She has published extensively in these areas.

Sergiy Zorya ǀ Lead Agriculture Economist, World Bank, Uzbekistan
Sergiy Zorya graduated with M.S. degree from Zhytomyr Agro-Ecological University, Ukraine and earned a PhD in Agricultural Economics at Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Germany. In 2005, he joined the World Bank through the Young Professional Program and since then he worked in Africa, East Asia & Pacific, and Europe & Central Asia regions and in the Global Unit for Agriculture. Since July 2018 he is based in Tashkent, Uzbekistan coordinating the World Bank’s agricultural portfolio in Central Asia. He has an extensive development practitioner’s experience in designing policies and projects for small farms around the world.

Sara Savastano ǀ Director of Research and Impact Assessment Division, International Fund for Agricultural Development, Italy
Sara Savastano is the Director of Research and Impact Assessment (RIA) Division of the Strategy and Knowledge Department at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Prior to her current appointment, she was Senior Economist at the World Bank with the Development Economic Group. From 2008 to 2016 she was Assistant Professor in Economics at the University of Rome Tor Vergata. Before the University she served as an Economist at the Public Investment Evaluation Unit of the Italian Ministry of Finance. She holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Rome Tor Vergata.

Lino Dias | Vice-President Smallholder Farming, Crop Science Division, Bayer AG, Germany
Lino Dias is the Vice-President Smallholder Farming at the Crop Science Division of Bayer AG. The focus of his work is to build a profitable and sustainable growth business by empowering smallholder farmers. Since 2015 he has been developing solutions to help smallholder farmers worldwide to reach their farming potential and grow their farms into sustainable businesses, while creating a meaningful impact on their livelihood and rural communities. With a graduation and a PhD in Chemical Engineering at Lisbon University, in Portugal, and an internship at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in the USA, he did several management and leadership trainings in leading business schools in the UK, Spain and Switzerland during his career at Bayer. He started working at Bayer in 2001 doing Research & Development and since then he had led several business projects in all regions of the world and in very diverse areas, such as supply chain, communication & change management, IT, product management and strategic marketing and was management support to the CEO in his previous position.

Alexander Petrikov ǀ Director, All-Russian Institute for Agrarian Problems and Informatics named after Nikonov (VIAPI), Russian Federation
Alexander Petrikov is a Director of the All-Russian Institute for Agrarian Problems and Informatics (VIAPI) and an Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences. From 2007 to 2016 he was a Deputy Minister of Agriculture of the Russian Federation and from 1996 to 2006 he served as a Director at VIAPI. Alexander Petrikov studied Economics at Lomonosov Moscow State University. His research focuses on social aspects of land and agrarian reforms, agricultural and rural policy.

Sophia Davidova ǀ Professor of European Agricultural Policy, School of Economics, University of Kent, UK
Sophia Davidova is Professor of European Agricultural Policy at the School of Economics, the University of Kent, UK, and Honorary Director of the Centre for European Agri-Environmental Studies (CEAS). She has been Director of Graduate Studies and President of the UK Agricultural Economics Society. Her teaching and research have been in the area of economies in transition and the EU New Member States. Her particular research interests are focused on the economic and social challenges faced by small farms in Europe, and the adequacy of CAP-like measures to address their policy needs.