Committed, Innovative, Enthusiastic
The desire to influence human behaviour in favor of the planet.
I think it is important to clarify the important connections between conservation and human well-being. In order to do this, we must demonstrate how conservation positively affects the day-to-day lives of people. I also think that there should be an emphasis on sustainable development, rather than on traditional “conservation” approaches. Finally, I think the conservation agenda needs ways — and means — to modify human behavior vis-à-vis nature and the rest of people on Earth.
In 1974, following the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, I prepared a curriculum on Environmental Education for primary schools. In that year I attended the First International Conference on Environmental Education (Tbilisi, Georgia). In 1978, I moved to Nairobi to work at the Environment Liaison Centre (ELC, an international NGO); in this position, I implemented a UNEP-funded project to promote the newly declared World Environment Day.
Three years later, I became the Executive Director of the ELC. In 1985, I moved to IUCN in Gland as Director of Membership Relations with the mandate of Director General Kenton Miller to make of IUCN a “membership driven organization.” I found strong opposition in the Secretariat and I failed! I left IUCN in disgust in 1991 and became the Executive Director of the International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA), a Geneva-based coalition of humanitarian and development NGOs.
In 1995 I was elected Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, a post that I remained at until 2003. I then moved to Spain, became a Spanish citizen and worked as freelance consultant. I came back to Ramsar one month ago (Spring 2014) as Coordinator of its Mediterranean Wetlands Initiative (MedWet), which involves 27 countries and many partners.
Since one month ago I am the new Coordinator of the Mediterranean Wetlands Initiative (MedWet), a regional network established 20 years ago to promote the conservation and wise use of wetland ecosystems in the region. MedWet is now a formally recognized regional initiative of the Ramsar Convention. As Coordinator I have to animate this wide network of 27 Mediterranean countries, wetland centres, other regional and international institutions, NGOs and individual experts to create a new momentum for wetland conservation within the wider picture of sustainable water resources management. UN Water has proposed a specific Global Goal for Water for the period post-2015: Sustainable Water for All. Our challenge in MedWet will be to contribute to the effective implementation of this Global Goal. This will require a strong dose of CEPA (Communications, Education, Participation and Awareness). I hope to work very closely with CEC and its members, particularly in the Mediterranean, in this endeavour.
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