The project is being implemented by the Research Institute for Sustainability (RIFS), formerly known as the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, (IASS) in partnership with the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), and TMG – Think Tank for Sustainability. We invite you to find out a little more about our team members.


Barbara Neumann

Since September 2022, Barbara Neumann leads the Ocean Governance Research Group at RIFS. Trained as a geographer, she has specialized in sustainable development and governance of coastal and marine areas. Positioned in the research of society-environment interactions and global change processes, her research interest is in understanding the role of boundary conditions and governance processes and how these can be shaped for sustainability transformations in the context of ocean and coasts. In current projects, she looks for example into approaches for co-creative knowledge production and transformation of ocean governance in the context of the Agenda 2030 for sustainable development.

Barbara holds a doctorate in Geography from Saarland University, Germany, and was a postdoctoral researcher in physical geography and environmental research at Saarland University from 2002 until 2010. From 2010 to 2017, she was a research associate with the Coastal Risks and Sea-Level Rise research group at the Department of Geography at Kiel University and member of the Cluster of Excellence “The Future Ocean” in Kiel, Germany. Here she undertook research and taught on climate change and sea-level rise impacts, and sustainability and governance of coastal areas. From 2014 until 2018, she was honorary senior fellow with the Australian National Institute of Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS) at the University of Wollongong, Australia.

Alexander Müller

Alexander Müller was leading from 2014 to 2018 a global study on “The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for Agriculture and Food” (TEEBAgriFood) hosted by UN Environment. From 2006 to 2013 he served as Assistant-Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), where he was responsible for the Voluntary Guidelines for Responsible Governance of Tenure (VGGT). In June 2009 the UN Secretary-General nominated Alexander as a member of the Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change (AGECC) to advise on the energy-related dimensions of climate change negotiations. From 2007 to 2011 he was chairing the UN Standing Committee on Nutrition. From 2001 to 2005 he served as State Secretary in the German Ministry for Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture. In 2017 he, along with Klaus Töpfer and Harmut Gaßner founded “TMG – Töpfer, Müller, Gaßner GmbH, ThinkTank for Sustainability” and TMG Research gGmbH, where he works as managing director.


Julien Rochette

Julien Rochette is the Director of the IDDRI Ocean programme, aimed at strengthening cooperation for the sustainable and equitable management of marine resources. He holds a doctorate in public law (University of Nantes) and public international law (University of Milan), and is specialized in legal and policy aspects related to ocean governance. His work has led him to invest mainly in regional organizations, particularly in the Mediterranean, the Western Indian Ocean, West Africa and the Pacific. Julien is a member of several French and international expert groups and a lecturer in various French universities.




Ben Boteler

Ben Boteler is a Senior Research Associate at the Research Institute for Sustainability (RIFS) and a Senior Fellow at TMG Think Tank for Sustainability. His current research focuses on European ocean governance and marine policy. In particular, he aims to identify and understand governance arrangements which break through established institutional and societal barriers, fostering progress towards the achievement of the EU’s Green Deal. From 2018 to 2022 he was the co-lead of the STRONG High Seas project (Strengthening Regional Ocean Governance for the High Seas), a project that aimed to facilitate the development of comprehensive, cross-sectoral approaches for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in the high seas, focusing on the Southeast Atlantic and Southeast Pacific regions.



Klaudija Cremers


Klaudija Cremers joined IDDRI in 2019 as Research Fellow International Marine Policy. She studied Liberal Arts and Sciences with a specialisation in Global Justice at Leiden University College The Hague and has a LL.M. in Public International Law from Leiden University. Her Master’s thesis investigated the gaps in the international legal framework of managing fish stocks in the high seas. Previously, Klaudija worked for ClientEarth in Brussels as EU Fisheries Lawyer with a focus on the implementation of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy. She has also completed traineeships at the European Parliament and at the Embassy of the Netherlands in New Zealand.



Shannon Hampton
© RIFS/ Arne Weychardt

Shannon Hampton was the project coordinator for the Marine Regions Forum in from 2022 to 2024. Prior to this, she spent 7 years working on various ocean governance research and capacity development initiatives throughout Africa while working at the IOI-SA, including coordinating the annual Course in Ocean Governance for Africa. Her work there also included coordinating IOI-SA’s contributions to the STRONG High Seas Project, MeerWissen’s WIOGEN and MAMI WATA’s Marine Spatial Planning capacity development program, amongst other projects. After completing her PhD in a multidisciplinary study on small pelagic fish stock structure (UCT, South Africa), she co-wrote the generic Industry Code of Conduct for Responsible Fishing in South Africa on contract for CapFish and spent time volunteering on the Earthwatch African Penguin project and the Namibian Dolphin Project.



Olga Lukyanova

Olga Lukyanova joined RIFS in 2020 until 2023. Olga has a diverse education and professional background: she worked as a producer and researcher for various cultural institutions in the EU and Russia before switching to the field of nature conservation and sustainable resource management.
She holds an MSc degree in Integrated Natural Resource Management (Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany), MA in Media, Art and Culture (Erasmus Mundus joint degree: Danube University Krems, Austria; Aalborg University, Denmark; University of Lodz, Poland) and a BA in International Economic Relations (The State University of Management, Moscow, Russia).


Anastasia Roberts

Anastasia Roberts was the project assistant for the Marine Regions Forum in 2023 and 2024. She has a diverse background working both within institutes and in the private sector. Anastasia has an academic background in Ecology, with a focus on the interplay between land use practices, biodiversity conservation, and ecological resilience. Her most recent work prior to joining RIFS looked at the cascading impacts of insect decline in Germany. She also has a particular interest in sustainable farming practices and has done various research on biological controls for integrated pest management implementation.





Angelo Sciacca

Angelo Sciacca joined IDDRI in 2023 as a Senior Research Fellow (Blue Tourism). His expertise lies at the intersection of the circular economy, tourism, and island and coastal areas. Angelo holds a PhD from Edinburgh Napier University with his research investigating the transition of the tourism sector towards a more circular economy in small islands. He also holds a master’s degree in Ecotourism. Prior to joining IDDRI, Angelo held various roles in Southeast Asia, particularly Myanmar, and Europe. His work involved supporting the development of circular entrepreneurship in coastal tourism, community-based and ecotourism in coastal and island destinations and conducting research on smart tourism ecosystems. Angelo has worked side-by-side with communities, small-medium-sized tourism enterprises, and local, regional and national public sector for the promotion of a more sustainable and circular tourism sector.


Luise von Pogrell

Luise von Pogrell was a Research Associate at TMG – Think Tank for Sustainability in Berlin, Germany. She works on a variety of Ocean Governance topics and joined the Marine Regions Forum team in 2021. Additionally, she is involved in the Integrated Assessment of Atlantic Marine Ecosystems in Space and Time (iAtlantic) project. Before that, she worked at the Research Institute for Sustainability – RIFS (previously IASS) with a focus on deep seabed mining discussions at the International Seabed Authority.





Laura Weiand

Laura Weiand has a background in marine ecology and sociology, specialising on the science-policy-society interface. She joined the RIFS (previously IASS) ClimPol project in 2016, focusing on policy implementation processes related to mitigating climate change and air pollution. In 2019, Laura joined the Ocean Governance team at the RIFS as part of the Partnership for Regional Ocean Governance project until 2024. Prior to joining the RIFS, Laura led a socio-ecological research and development project in West Papua, which focused on capacity building, marine monitoring, and the sustainable management of marine protected areas. Her thesis, conducted with the ZMT-Leibniz Centre for Topical Marine Ecology in Bremen, investigated top-down and bottom-up anthropogenic divers that regulate coastal marine ecosystems, in Makassar, Indonesia.



Students and Interns


Sebastian Unger

Sebastian Unger has an academic background in biology with political science and 15 years of professional experience in international maritime policy. His research focuses on global governance processes for the sustainable use and protection of the seas, including the development of a new treaty for the protection of the high seas, the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the governance of deep-sea mining. Sebastian gives lectures on marine conservation at the University of Potsdam. He came to the institute in 2011 as the scientific coordinator of RIFS (previously IASS) founding director Professor Klaus Töpfer. In 2007 he was appointed Deputy Secretary of the OSPAR Commission for the Protection of the Northeast Atlantic. In this role, Sebastian was heavily involved in the designation of the world’s first network of protected areas on the high seas and intergovernmental negotiations in the areas of marine biodiversity, human impacts on the marine environment and the offshore oil and gas industry. Previously, Sebastian worked at the Federal Foreign Office coordinating international maritime affairs.


Glen Wright

Glen Wright works on various aspects of marine policy and ocean governance, specialising in the high seas/areas beyond national jurisdiction, regional ocean policy, and marine spatial planning. He studied law at the Universities of Nottingham (UK) and Texas (US), and has a master’s in environmental law from the University of New South Wales (Australia). He is currently pursuing his PhD part-time with the Australian National University, studying the legal and policy implications of large-scale ocean energy developments. Prior to joining IDDRI, Glen worked at REN21 on renewable energy policy. He has previously worked on electricity regulation at the Total Environment Centre, one of Australia’s leading environmental NGOs, and as a paralegal in the energy team at Freehills, Australia’s biggest law firm.



Thando Tilmann

Thando Tilmann has a background in land use planning and business management studies. She joined the RIFS (previously IASS) in 2010 initially working with the founding director Klaus Töpfer and later on in the newly initiated Global Soil Forum team. During her time in the Global Soil Forum she worked on the design and implementation of four Global Soil Weeks, for which she also co-facilitated sessions. The Global Soil Week focuses on collective processes and is a knowledge platform for sustainable soil management and responsible land governance worldwide. She also worked in the SDG project “Jumpstarting the SDG’s in Germany”, where she shared the joint responsibility with the Project Lead for the successful implementation of the global conference in May 2016. In January 2018 she started working in the PROG project assisting the team in the implementation of the first Marine Regions Forum.



Nicole Wienrich

Nicole Wienrich has a background in environmental governance, social sciences and communication. She joined the Ocean Governance team at RIFS (previously IASS) in 2017, focusing her research on high seas governance. Previously, Nicole worked for the German Development Cooperation (GIZ GmbH) in Costa Rica, promoting private sector engagement in the sustainable use and protection of biodiversity in Central America and the Dominican Republic. Among others, Nicole was involved in projects aiming to restore and protect marine and coastal biodiversity in the Caribbean Sea by engaging the tourism industry and in defining measures for improving the sustainability of agricultural practices. She also worked for a German NGO on conflict transformation in the Philippines and organized international youth exchanges and trainings in Germany.