Changing of Guard at AFF Secretariat
The African Forest Forum (AFF) Secretariat is pleased to announce the appointment of Prof. Labode Popoola as its new Executive Secretary – CEO, effective October 1st, 2023.
Prof. Popoola takes over from Prof. Godwin Kowero who guided the establishment of AFF and has been at the helm of the institution since 2007. The institution has grown from a one person staff when it started to 3 scientific staff in 2009; now it has a staff complement of 10 regular staff, six of whom guide the scientific work of the institution, supported by four technical specialists. With this level of staffing, AFF is now firmly established and works with an average of 40 experts and 20 postgraduate students every year in undertaking its various tasks.
On behalf of the Members’ Forum and the Governing Council, the AFF Secretariat greatly appreciates Prof. Kowero and thanks him for his invaluable leadership, expertise, definitive contributions over the years.
Labode will take responsibility for the efficient functioning of the AFF Secretariat and ensure that it continues to support collective advocacy and actions – with particular focus on the relevance and contribution of forests and trees to the people of Africa and their environment.
Prof. Labode Popoola is an accomplished scholar with more than 20 years of senior management experience working in various institutions across Africa. He holds a PhD in Forest Economics from the University of Ibadan. His academic career has seen him occupying every academic position in the university system, ranging from undergraduate programme coordinator to Vice-Chancellor.
As an experienced researcher and project leader, Labode Popoola has led several internationally funded researches involving over USD4 million, including the MacArthur Foundation USD 900,000.00 grant for the establishment of the Master’s in Development Practice (MDP) Programme. The University of Ibadan was one of the 10 Universities that won the grant involving over 70 Universities across the globe in 2010. He was also a team member and Steering Committee member of the USD 1.75 Million Japanese Trust Fund (JTF) Grant for Education for Sustainable Development in Africa (ESDA).
Labode belongs to several professional associations and networks. They include the Forestry Association of Nigeria (FAN), Commonwealth Forestry Association (CFA), African Forestry Research Network, African Forest Forum (AFF), African Network for Agroforestry Education (ANAFE), Association of Research Managers and Administrators (UK), West African Research and Innovation Management Association (WARIMA), UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), among several others. He has held several responsible positions in these associations and networks. He was elected the Business Manager of Forestry Association of Nigerian in 1997, National Secretary in 2001 and National President of the Association in 2013 and served till February, 2018. He served as member, Editorial Board, Nigerian Journal of Forestry ; Assistant Editor (Business), Journal of Tropical Forest Resources (1995 – 2003); National Contact Point, African Forest Research Network (AFORNET) – 2001 to 2007; Managing Editor, Journal of Tropical Forest Resources (2003 to 2008); Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Tropical Forest Resources; Member, FAO Expert Committee on Economics of Sustainable Forest Management in the Tropics (2004); Vice Chairman, National Agroforestry Training and Education Group (2005); Chairman, Committee of Deans of Postgraduate Schools in Nigerian Universities (2008 – 2010); Focal Person and Consultant, African Forest Forum (AFF) (2008 -2023), General Secretary, West African Research and Innovation Management Association (WARIMA) – 2010 to 2015 and President, WARIMA-2015 to November, 2021. He was also a member of the Academic Steering Committee of the Global Association of MDP Programmes.
He is currently, Director, United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network-Nigeria; member, Leadership Council of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network; Chairman, Sustainability Support Forum, an NGO for the driving of Agenda 2030 (SDGs) of the UN in Nigeria. He was appointed a member, and later the Chairman, Project Steering and Advisory Committee of the Africa Forest Forum, Nairobi in 2021. He is a member of the: Technical Support Team of the Forum; International Peer Review Committee (IPRC) of the Southern African Research and Innovation Management Association (SARIMA); Nigeria Post-Secondary Education Data System (NIPEDS) Task Team of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board/Federal Ministry of Education and Editorial Boards of several publications. Labode founded the African Journal of Sustainable Development, and was the Chairman, Editorial Board till 2019. In 2005, he was elected into the elite cadre of the Forestry Association of Nigeria as a Fellow.
Prof. Popoola has successfully supervised 28 PhD theses, while three others are on-going. Sixteen of his PhD mentees are already Professors within and outside Nigeria. He has also supervised one MPhil, 55M.Sc dissertations as well as 40 B.Sc student projects. He has edited and/or co-edited over 20 publications. His research activities have generated over 170 publications (including a patent), over 70 percent of which were published after his promotion to the rank of Professor in 2002. Also, a 19-chapter book on “Readings in Tropical Sustainable Forest Management” has been published in his honour by his PhD mentees.
Labode has won several awards and honours. They include an award for Invaluable Service in Agroforestry from the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry, Nairobi (2001); award for excellent service to the forestry profession by the Council of the Forestry Association of Nigeria. He also received the Osun State Government Merit Award for Excellence in Science, Research and Community Development in 2010, and an Award of Excellence by Osun State Government in 2018 for making Osun State University financially self-sustaining.
The AFF Secretariat wishes Prof. Labode Popoola the greatest of success in his new role.