Regreening the Deserts: a Solution -- Register Now For The Panel Discussion Webinar

Published Date
June 03, 2021
Published by
ICARDA Communication Team
Rehabilitating desert through marabs
Rehabilitating desert through marabs

Every year on June 17th, the United Nations celebrates the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, established in 1995 by the UN General Assembly. To mark this important occasion, Cairo’s Heliopolis University, in collaboration with ICARDA and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) will take part in a panel discussion webinar:

 “Regreening the Deserts - A Solution”  

June 17th, 2021 

10-12.30 EET 


 Click here to register




Desertification is a gradual process through which fertile land degrades over time and turns into barren soil unfit for agriculture. It is mostly driven by resource mismanagement, inappropriate agricultural approaches, and land overexploitation by fast-growing communities. It is also compounded by intensifying climate change. 

Hailing from Sekem, ICARDA, IWMI, Heliopolis University, the UNCCD’s Great Green Wall and Egypt’s Ministry of Water and Irrigation, the experts will discuss best practices to regreen the desert, explain why it is crucial to global stability, and highlight multiple challenges that come with halting, and reversing desertification. They will also discuss the central roles that gender, higher education, research, and international sharing of knowledge each play in such an initiative. 


As desertification accelerates, rural livelihoods, incomes and food security become more challenged.  


desert farming egypt

Heliopolis University is bringing together a panel of experts to discuss the urgent need, and best practices, to re-green Egypt’s desert lands in a webinar with the following objectives:

  • Give the audience an overview of issues and topics relevant to re-greening the desert.

  • Raise awareness of the public about the various projects as well as the topics of desertification and droughts in addition to the prospects and the challenges of re-greening the desert.

  • Discuss the difficulties and challenges that come with regreening of deserts.

  • Brainstorm possible solutions, based on the panelists' knowledge and hands-on experience.

  • Prepare a list of recommendations and actions needed to overcome said challenges.

Meet our experts:


  • Dr. Eman Sayed, Head of the Planning Sector, Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation 

  • Ms. Camilla Nordheim-Larsen, Representative of the Great Green Wall Project and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and Drought (UNCCD) 

  • Mr. Helmy Abouleish, CEO of Sekem Initiative and Chair of the Board of Trustees of Heliopolis University 

  • Dr. Amgad Elmahdi, Head of MENA Regional office –International Water Management Institute (IWMI) – Moderator of the Webinar

  • Dr. Bezaiet Dessalegn, Social Science Specialist with the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Integrated Water and Land Management Research Program 

  • Prof. Dr. Ismail Galil, former chairman of Desert Research Center (DRC) and former Head of the Agricultural Office at the Embassy of Egypt in Washington D.C. 

  • Dr. Chandra Shekhar Biradar, Research Team Leader GeoAgro for Sustainable Agroecosystems, Principal Agroecosystem Scientist and Head of Geoinformatics and Research Data Management Unit with the International Center for Agricultural Research and Dry Areas (ICARDA) 

  • Prof. Dr. Hani Sewilam, Professor and Managing Director, UNESCO Chair, RWTH Aachen University 

  • Dr. Hammou Laamrani, Senior Expert at League of Arab States, and CIM Integrated Expert 


10:00 Welcome remarks & Opening Speech Dr. Amgad Elmahdi, IWMI
10:15 Keynote speech: Challenges and Opportunities of regreening the desert Mr. Helmy Abouleish, Sekem
10:45 Panel Session 1: Challenges of regreening the desert in Egypt  
11:15 SureMap: a practical example Prof.Dr. Hani Sewilam, RWTH Aachen University
11:30 Panel Session 2: Solutions to overcome the challenges and prospects and opportunities of regreening the desert.  
12:00 Q&A Session  
12:15 Closing Remark: Recommendations & Actions Dr. Hammou Laamrani, League of Arab States


The webinar will be moderated by Dr. Amgad Elmahdi, Head of IWMI MENA Regional Office and will begin with a keynote speech by SEKEM's CEO, Mr. Helmy Abouleish, who will give a general overview of the challenges and opportunities surrounding desert farming in Egypt.

Challenges such as water access, gender, biodiversity, and local communities’ involvement in regreening the desert will be then discussed by the panel of experts in the first session.

Prof. Dr. Hani Sewilam will present SureMap, a future interdisciplinary engineering Master's program which goal is to train the next generation of engineers to support Egypt's "1.5 million feddan" desert reclamation project.

In the second session of the webinar, the panelists will expand on how to build enhanced cooperation between key actors at the regional and international levels, in order to transform Egyptian deserts into sustainable and productive lands.