RIO+ Centre Team

Director: Dr. Rômulo Paes de Sousa

Dr. Rômulo Paes de Sousa is the director of the RIO+ World Centre for Sustainable Development. He is the former Vice Minister in the Ministry for Social Development and the Fight Against Hunger (MDS) in the Government of Brazil. He worked as a researcher in relevant institutions such as Institute of Development Studies, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), Fiocruz, and Federal University of Minas Gerais. Dr. Paes is an epidemiologist specializing in health inequalities and social policy evaluation, with a Ph.D. from LSHTM.

Deputy Director: Layla Saad

Layla is the Deputy Director and Policy Advisor of the World Centre for Sustainable Development.  She has worked on issues of poverty, inequality and participatory governance with a range of institutions including the multilateral system, governments and NGOs, both in the North and the South.  Prior to joining the RIO+Centre, Layla led the Advocacy and Partnerships work of the MDG Achievement Fund – the world’s largest fund dedicated to the Millennium Development Goals.  She has also been responsible for spearheading large-scale campaigns and mobilising citizens and governments around key poverty   goals.  At RIO+, she leads on inequality and governance as it relates to sustainable development. Layla holds a M.Sc. in Policy and Planning for Sustainable Development from the University of British Columbia, Canada.


Policy and Programme Team 

marcio for bioProgramme Specialist: Marcio Pontual

Marcio Pontual is the Sustainable Development Goal Specialist at the RIO+ Centre, responsible for following trends and negotiations on the subject. He has previously worked in the private, public and non-governmental sectors, in many opportunities liaising with them. Over the last 10 years he has followed international trade, development and climate negotiations. He holds a B.A. in International Relations from the University of Brasilia and a M.Sc. in Environmental Change and Management from the University of Oxford.

 Policy Specialist: Lmeaura Hildebrandt

Laura Hildebrandt is Policy Specialist at the RIO+ Centre supporting work on Post-2015 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and urban sustainability.  For the past several years, she has been facilitating UN networks on the topics of gender equality and environment and she has led campaign teams for major global online consultations on the Post-2015 Agenda and the Rio+20 conference.  Prior to joining UNDP, she worked on Partnerships for Sustainable Development and the International Year of Sanitation campaign at UN-DESA. Previously for the Government of Canada’s Sustainable Cities Initiative she managed multi-sectoral teams for urban sustainability in Senegal, Costa Rica and Mexico. She holds a Masters in International Affairs (Economics and Political Development) from Columbia University in New York and a M.A. in Political Science from McMaster University, Canada.

AmathPolicy Specialist: Amath Pathe Sene

Amath Pathe Sene is Policy Specialist and brings more than nine years’ experience in strategic planning and programming for inclusive pro-poor growth ranging from the local to the national and regional level in Africa and Central Asia.  Prior to his work at RIO+ Center, Amath was Regional Program Advisor for the UNDP-UNEP Joint Poverty and Environment Initiative based in Nairobi where he advised African governments, UNDP country offices and teams on mainstreaming the poverty, environment and gender nexus into national planning and budgeting processes. He previously led the Energy and Environment work of UNDP in Mauritania in a post-coup context.  He also worked on issues related to Linking Relief Rehabilitation and Development with French NGOs in Afghanistan. Amath holds a MSc and postgraduate diploma in Rural Development and Natural Resources Management from the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Montpellier (France) and is an Agronomist Engineer from the National School of Agriculture in Meknes (Morocco).

ioneProgramme Associate: Ione Nascimento

Ione is the Programme Associate at the RIO+Centre bringing expertise from her previous experience as Programme Associate at the UNDP Brazil Office where she worked for nine years on issues of governance, environment and development. She has worked closely with traditional populations and communities as well as civil society organizations on sustainable development.  Ione holds a BA in International Relations and an M.Sc. in Sustainable Development focusing on food security and  indigenous lands in Brazil.


Administrative and Executive Assistant: Paola Carvalho Costa

Paola Costa has joined the RIO+ team as Administrative Assistant. She has worked for Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) as an Administrative Assistant. She lectured the English language in a Business English School. She has also worked in the bank field in Oklahoma, United Sates. She holds a BA in Business Administration from Oklahoma Baptist University, United States.




 Administrative Clerk: Wilians Alves

Wilians is the RIO+ Administrative Clerk and Driver. He has worked with administrative and logistical support in several Brazilian companies mainly in the food industry. He has also worked with military personnel. He currently handles logistics, transport and general services for the RIO+ Centre.

MichelleUN Youth Volunteer: Michelle Elsaesser

Michelle has joined the Rio+ team as UN Youth Volunteer and Post-2015 Officer. She will support the continuation of consultations, promotion and activities in support of post-2015 as directed by RIO+ Centre. Michelle is also responsible for RIO+ Centre’s social media channels. Prior to arriving in Brazil, she has worked for a Children’s Fund called “ChildFund Deutschland” being part of the Fundraising and Communication Department and acting as a Sponsor Relations Adviser. Michelle holds a BA in Social Science with focus on Intercultural Relations from Fulda University of Applied Sciences.

Haroldo Machado 3 rostoRIO+Centre Focal Point-UNDP Brasilia: Haroldo Machado Filho

Haroldo Machado Filho advises UNDP/Brazil Country Office on sustainable development related issues. Prior to joining UNDP/Brazil, Haroldo was special adviser of the General Coordination on Climate Change (Ministry of Science and Technology of Brazil) and of the Inter-ministerial Commission on Global Climate Change, in Brazil.  He was negotiator of the Brazilian Delegation under the multilateral climate change regime for 15 years. He has also worked on issues of technology transfer, carbon credits, adaptation, South-South cooperation and finance. He was lead author of the Chapter on Finance and Investment of the IPCC 5th Assessment Report (WG III). Haroldo holds a Ph.D. in International Relations with a focus on International Law from the Graduate Institute of International Studies (IHEI), University of Geneva, Switzerland.

LauraJungmanResearch Assistant: Laura Jungman

Laura is a Research Assistant at the Rio+ Centre, originally from São Paulo, Brazil. She is passionate about development and sustainability issues, and her main interest lies in mainstreaming climate change and gender concerns into development practice.  Prior to her work at the Rio+Centre, Laura has worked for the World Social Forum and other NGOs in Brazil, India and Bangladesh, and she also co-founded the youth-led organisation Engajamundo. She holds a Bachelor degree in International Relations from the Universidade Católica de São Paulo, and a Masters degree in Development Studies from the London School of Economics (LSE), where she attended as a Chevening Scholar.