National Drought Mitigation Center


Svoboda named to United Nations Science and Policy Advisory Group

March 6, 2018

The members of the UNCCD SPI translate current science into recommendations for drought management and mitigation policy.

Mark Svoboda, climatologist and director of the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, has been named to the Science-Policy Interface of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. 

Svoboda, an internationally known expert on drought monitoring and early warning, was one of 10 independent scientists recently appointed to the select group of science-focused policy makers; scientists working globally on environment and climate issues; and representatives of observer organizations such as the World Meteorological Organization. The group will provide scientific guidance for development of drought management and mitigation policy focused on ecosystem resiliency and human well-being.

As director of the NDMC, Svoboda has seen first-hand how improved climate monitoring and understanding of drought preparation can benefit communities around the world. “I feel honored to have been selected to serve the SPI,” said Svoboda, “and am looking forward to contributing to the bridge between the scientific community and policy makers that the SPI provides.” 

The NDMC, based in the School of Natural Resources at UNL, has been at the forefront of creating technical and planning tools for drought monitoring and mitigation since it was established in 1995. Svoboda was one of the center’s original employees, and led the NDMC’s monitoring program area from 2006 until his appointment as director of the drought center in October 2016. 

In 1999 Svoboda was co-founder and part of the team of scientists in federal agencies and universities around the country that created the process for producing the U.S. Drought Monitor, a weekly depiction of current drought conditions across the country. The information aggregated in the USDM map helped agencies in state and federal government to streamline delivery of relief payments related to agricultural commodities affected by drought, and became a methodology for geographic depiction of drought conditions that has been emulated worldwide. 

The work focus of the SPI is determined by the UNCCD Committee on Science and Technology, based in Bonn, Germany. The 25 members of the SPI are responsible for providing the UNCCD with an unbiased perspective on science and policy related to desertification, land degradation and drought, and for promoting dialogue between scientists and policy makers on those target issues. Appointments to the SPI are staggered across two UNCCD biennials. Svoboda’s four-year term of appointment to the SPI will expire at the end of 2021.

-- Suzanne Plass, NDMC Communication Specialist