Celebrating leadership in environmental management: an interview with Dania Abdul Malak

From designing integrated ecosystem assessments in Europe and the Mediterranean to transforming outcomes into evidence-based recommendations for regional stakeholders, the European Topic Centre on Spatial Analysis and Synthesis (ETC-UMA) stands as a flagship for territorial cooperation. At the forefront of this institution stands Dania Abdul Malak, Director of ETC-UMA, whose recent insights for the “Interviews with Alumni” series of the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Zaragoza (CIHEAM Zaragoza) underscore the connection between education, leadership and advancement in strategies for nature conservation and ecosystem based management built on evidence.

Dania speaking at the PANACeA event in Málaga, October 2019.

In the interview conducted between Dania Abdul Malak and the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Zaragoza (CIHEAM Zaragoza), insights emerged on the mission of ETC-UMA since its establishment within the University of Malaga in 2011.  As the Director of ETC-UMA, Dania has led initiatives aimed at integrating scientific findings into actionable strategies for conservation and sustainable development. The ETC-UMA team is currently made of 10 professionals specialised in ecosystems’ and ecosystems services’ assessments using geotechnologies. The ecosystemic emphasis of the center is on marine, coastal, and terrestrial environments – with wetlands, and forest and woodlands as 2 major working areas. The ETC-UMA staff profiles scientists, ecological modellers, geographers, GIS and remote sensing professionals, socio-economists, and IT programmers.

Following this thread about leadership, education and support, the conversation sparked the contributions of the ETC-UMA to support young professionals to develop their skills in transboundary ecosystem conservation and build their capacities in using geotechnologies. Several End of Master’s Projects have been carried out with the institution’s support and guidance, building students and young professionals capacities to take part in resolving real-world environmental challenges. This mentorship not only advances students’ technical skills but also enhances their capacity to become part of the next generation of conservation leaders.

From her transformative experience as alumni of CIHEAM Zaragoza, Dania Abdul Malak, encouraged former CIHEAM Zaragoza students to contribute and give back to this excellent project of Mediterranean cooperation, where we are reminded of the boundless potential of professional and personal growth that lies in collaborative projects. 

In this narrative, Dania Abdul Malak referred to ETC-UMA as a center that continues to advance in environmental research and policy, while remains committed to fostering collaboration and empowering the next generation of transboundary environmental leaders.

Visit to the Moncayo (Zaragoza) during the Master

Study trip on the Master

Study trip on the Master

Defence of the Doctoral Thesis at UPV









For more information, visit:

Dania Abdul Malak

ETC-UMAInternship Programme

Universidad de Málaga

CIHEAM Zaragoza


Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores, Unión Europea y Cooperación de España

Ministerio de Agricultura, Pesca y Alimentación de España