Staff of the Ramsar Secretariat
Christopher Briggs, Secretary General (UK)
Christopher Briggs was appointed Secretary General to the Ramsar Convention in April 2013. His interest and involvement in wetlands began while he was working for county wildlife trusts in England after completing his doctorate in Marine Biology from the University of Liverpool and a BSc degree in Zoology from the University of Exeter. Christopher has had a long career in sustainable development with a focus on water and land management, climate change, biosafety, biodiversity and ecosystem services. Among other roles, he joined the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 1999 as Coordinator of the Eastern Europe and Central Asia environment team to manage Global Environment Facility (GEF) projects in Biodiversity and International Waters. In 2001, he joined the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to help build capacity in developing countries on genetically modified organisms. He led the UNEP-GEF Biosafety Unit for six years, providing support to over 130 developing countries and increasing the reach and greater understanding of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Prior to joining the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, Christopher Briggs was based in Panama as UNDP regional team leader for the Latin American and Caribbean region. The portfolio of projects included many based in Ramsar Sites. They covered all aspects of land management, including coastal and inland wetlands, and were designed to achieve long term financial support for the continuous supply of ecosystem services and biodiversity in the region.
Nick Davidson, Deputy Secretary General (UK)
A citizen of the UK, Nick Davidson has been Deputy Secretary General since February 2000, with overall responsibility for the Convention's global development and delivery of scientific, technical and policy guidance and advice. He has a BSc (Hons) in Zoology from the University of Aberdeen, and over 30 years’ experience of the ecology, inventory, assessment and conservation of coastal and inland wetlands and the ecology and ecophysiology of migratory waterbirds, with a 1981 PhD from the University of Durham (UK) on that topic. Prior to joining the Secretariat , he worked for the UK's national conservation agencies (Nature Conservancy Council, English Nature, and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee), particularly in coastal wetland inventory and assessment, and then as International Science Coordinator for Wetlands International. He has a long-standing interest in, and strong commitment to, the transfer of environmental science into policy-relevance and decision-making.
Paul Ouédraogo, Senior Regional Advisor for Africa (Burkina Faso)
A citizen of Burkina Faso, Paul has many years' experience in working on environmental matters, including forest and wildlife management as well as wetland conservation and sustainable use, both at local level and nationally. He has a successful record of coordinating short courses for African parliamentary capacity building, non-governmental environmental organizations, and field scientists and practitioners. He served for some years in the National Centre for Research (CNRST) of Burkina and at the University of Ouagadougou (ENSK). He also served as Executive Director of Naturama, a national NGO in the late 1990s. Following this he became IUCN Senior Technical Advisor for the Benin Wildlife Centre (CENAGREF). From 2005 to 2007 he served as IUCN's consultant coordinator for a Wildlife Corridor Programme for Ghana’s Northern Savanna Biodiversity Conservation. In 2007, Dr Ouédraogo became a Senior Technical Advisor for the Integrated Management of Critical Ecosystems Project under the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA). With his technical assistance, the Rwandan government developed the legal instruments, technical and institutional tools for Rwandan wetland governance.
Lew Young, Senior Regional Advisor for Asia-Oceania (Hong Kong, P. R. China)
Hong Kong-born Chinese, Lew has been Manager of the WWF Hong Kong Mai Po Nature Reserve since 1991, and was actively involved in the listing of the Mai Po Inner Deep Bay Ramsar site in 1995. Since then he has worked closely with the Hong Kong government to develop the management plan and monitoring programme for the site. He has considerable experience in CEPA issues through his work at the Mai Po Marshes Wildlife Education Centre and his involvement in the establishment of Wetland Link International-Asia in 2005, a network that has been promoting greater communication and cooperation among wetland centres across Asia. Lew holds a MSc degree in Ecology from Aberdeen University in Scotland and a Ph.D from Hong Kong University, Department of Zoology, and he joined the Secretariat in 2008.
María Rivera, Senior Regional Advisor for the Americas (Colombia)
In recent years María has contributed to the implementation of the Convention in the Neotropics, both in her position as Technical Officer at CREHO, the Ramsar regional initiative office in Panamá, and before that in her work at the Ministry of the Environment in Colombia. María received a Bachelors degree in Biology and Chemistry from the Universidad Libre de Colombia, and a Masters in Natural Resources Management from the Ezequiel Zamora National University, Venezuela. She has also both organized and participated in courses in wetland management, notably at the RIZA Institute for Inland Water Management in the Netherlands, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and Ducks Unlimited. María has served as a member of the Wetlands Synthesis group of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, and since 2006 has been the member for the Neotropics of Ramsar's STRP. She joined the Secretariat in 2007.
Tobias Salathé, Senior Regional Advisor for Europe (Switzerland)
Tobias received his MSc.and PhD degrees from Basel University and has worked with ICBP (now BirdLife International) and DG XI of the European Commission, among other posts, and most recently with the Station Biologique de la Tour du Valat in Arles, France. He speaks and writes all of the Ramsar languages and German as well, and is the author of a large number and variety of research reports and other publications. He joined the Secretariat in 1999.
Mireille Katz, Executive Assistant to the Secretary General (Switzerland)
After taking a degree in English and general linguistics, and with a Masters degree in teaching and an interest in nature conservation, Mireille joined IUCN in 1985 in the international relations unit, which was then in charge of the Ramsar Convention. She continued with the Ramsar Secretariat after it was established and has worked for the Convention in several different roles since then (Administrative Officer, Communications Officer, and now as Executive Assistant to the Secretary General). Mireille manages the Secretary General’s office and assists him to manage his dossiers and his priorities. She provides administrative services to the Standing Committee and oversees the planning and logistics for meetings convened by the Secretary General. She administers the Ramsar Award given at each Conference of the Parties. Mireille also has a post-graduate certificate in writing and communication from the University of Geneva.
Sandra Hails, CEPA Programme Officer (UK)
Born in Scotland, earned a BA and PhD in biological sciences at the University of Stirling. Spent 12 years in Southeast Asia as a lecturer and researcher at both school and university levels. Continued to develop an early interest in conservation and wrote regularly about natural history and conservation for the press as a freelance writer. On returning to Europe in the late 1980s she continued this conservation interest, working as a freelance consultant doing research and editing for IUCN, WHO and WWF before joining the Ramsar Secretariat, originally as a consultant in 1997 and then as full-time CEPA Programme Officer.
Edmund Jennings, Documentation Officer (UK).
Ed joined the Secretariat in August 2013 and is responsible for ensuring the quality of official documents, editing them as necessary and ensuring their timely production in English, French and Spanish. He also edits and publishes reports, handbooks, briefing notes and web content. After graduating in Law from the University of Bristol in 1994, he managed strategic planning and reporting processes for public hospital groups in London. He went on to work as a freelance magazine production editor, and later applied this knowledge in editorial project management and teaching roles, including for the Royal National Institute of Blind People in the UK and for a number of Italian government ministries and agencies in Rome. From 2007 to 2012 he managed the publishing activities of the Norwegian Refugee Councils’ Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre in Geneva, which reports on the situation of people in over 50 countries who have been forced to flee their homes by conflict, violence or natural disasters.
Oana Barsin, Communications Officer (Switzerland / Romania)
Oana joined the Secretariat as a Communications Officer in March 2010, bringing her knowledge in innovative communications strategy and planning. In collaboration with other members of the Secretariat, she ensures communications to a wide range of stakeholders by overseeing the information content of the Ramsar web site. Her work covers the management of electronic list-server discussion groups, the posting of new focus areas and projects for the Convention and the processing of requests for information about the Convention from the public and the media. Oana holds a Master of Arts from the University of Lausanne and she also completed a certificate in Corporate Marketing and Communication.
Alexia Dufour, Regional Affairs Officer (France)
A French national, Alexia has advanced university degrees in environmental sciences and ecology from the Ecole Nationale du Génie Rural, des Eaux et Forêts (National School of Rural Engineering, Water and Forests) in Paris and the Universities of Lausanne in Switzerland and Besançon in France. She has taught ecology at university level, as well as biology and geology at high school level. For her doctoral studies she managed a research project on the links between landscape structure and plant biodiversity in the Jura region of France and Switzerland. Alexia's practical wetland experience includes working on a management plan, involving local stakeholders, at the Estagnol Pond Nature Reserve in southern France. She joined the Secretariat in 2007.
Lynn Sorrentino, Danone Project Management Officer (United States)
Lynn coordinates and administers the activities undertaken and planned in partnership with, and with support from, the Danone-Evian Group. Lynn holds a B.S. Degree in Biology, Postgraduate Certificates in Environmental Decision Making and Development Management, and is pursuing a Master's degree in Environmental Decision Making. She also is the Vice-Chair of Internal Affairs for the Swiss Chapter of the Internet Society. Lynn joined the Ramsar Convention in August 2011 in a temporary capacity to support Communications, and has worked with the Communications team on World Wetlands Day reporting and reorganizing the Ramsar website. Her previous experience includes a decade of software testing and project management at Microsoft, and fundraising for NGOs and advocacy campaigns. Her passion for social media, technology and global water issues will help her facilitate Ramsar's essential partnership with the Danone Group.
Anna Goodwin, Finance Officer (UK)
An economics graduate of Warwick University, Anna worked for 11 years with Arthur Andersen as an auditor and general business advisor, with clients ranging from pop groups to chemical manufacturers, from tractor makers to computer games developers. Recently she has been working for UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, looking after the millions being spent there in the East and Horn of Africa. She has traveled widely in the UK, the Middle East, USA, Japan, and now Switzerland. Married with two children, Anna joined the Secretariat in 2008.
Marcela Bonells, Scientific and Technical Support Officer (Colombia)
A Colombian Citizen, Marcela holds a BA degree in Political Science from the University of South Florida (USA), where she focused on Government and International Affairs, and a J.D. degree with a concentration in Environmental Law from Stetson University College of Law (SUCOL) (USA). She is fluent in Spanish and English. Marcela gained experience on international environmental and U.S. environmental law issues, particularly wetlands law and policy, as a Biodiversity Fellow and as a Teaching Assistant of International Environmental Law at SUCOL. She also worked as a legal intern for U.S. government environmental agencies such as the Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County, Florida, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She joined the Secretariat in February 2013 to assist with the implementation of the STRP’s work plan, bringing her enthusiasm and commitment to wetland conservation.
Montserrat Riera, Administrative Assistant (Spain)
Montse joined the Secretariat in 1992 and organizes the office's filing, mailings, and inventory. She has long experience serving as head of our Registration and Documentation Distribution teams at meetings of the Conference of the Contracting Parties.
Catherine Loetscher, Administrative Assistant (Switzerland)
Catherine, who joined the Secretariat in 2004, leads on logistical matters, taking care of travel and accommodation arrangements for staff and delegates, practical organization of meetings, visas, living arrangements for our interns, etc. Her native language is French but she has excellent knowledge of English, Spanish, and German as well, and frequently helps out with translations and proofreading as well. She has considerable administrative work experience both in the French- and German-speaking parts of Switzerland and in Spain.
Sara Casallas, Assistant Advisor for the Americas (Colombia)
A citizen of Colombia, Sara Casallas recently finished her MSc. in Global Environmental Change at King’s College London, England. Her undergraduate degree was in Integrated Science in Chemistry, Ecology and the Environment at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Throughout her studies she held various positions as Research Assistant for a number of environmental monitoring and policy related projects in Canada and London. While in London she had an internship at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) focusing on the role of sustainability standards and initiatives in the South-South trade of natural resources (mainly mining, forestry and agriculture) between China and Latin America. To make the most of her technical and natural resources-oriented academic background and her practical experience in the social sciences her MSc. dissertation was on water quality of a small, but important, river basin in Colombia, her home country. She found the fieldwork to be a very enriching experience and a great way to learn first-hand about the environmental, social and economic issues associated with monitoring and management of wetlands. At Ramsar, Sara will be assisting Ms. Maria Rivera to support the Americas region in the implementation of the Convention.
Laura Máiz-Tomé, Assistant Advisor for Europe (Spain)
Laura has an interdisciplinary background in environmental social sciences. She graduated in Politics from Keele University in 2009, where she focused on the field of environmental policy. Laura has a Master in Management of Natural Protected Areas from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and Master of Science in Environmental Assessment and Management from the University of East Anglia. For the first six months of 2012, Laura worked as an intern in the IUCN EURO Office in Brussels, where she assisted the EU Liaison Officer in the daily work of liaising with the European Institutions and securing funding opportunities for Biodiversity Conservation. Laura has also had a traineeship in the Observatory of Global Change in Sierra Nevada National Park (Spain) where she was involved in the UNESCO GLOCHAMORE project, aimed at the development of a global change research strategy for mountain regions in Biosphere Reserves. Right before taking up her post at Ramsar, Laura has had a three-month internship in the Atlantic Islands of Galicia National Park.
Samridhi Rijal, Assistant Advisor for Asia-Oceania (Nepal)
Samridhi is a citizen of Nepal and received a B.A. in Biology from Knox College (USA) where she focused on ecology, biodiversity and conservation. She obtained a M.Sc. in Natural Resources Management from the Asian Institute of Technology (Thailand) with a thesis on the perception and control of invasive species (Mimosa pigra) in farmland areas in Cambodia. After graduating, Samridhi returned to Nepal, to work for a project on the ‘Conservation and Sustainable Use of Wetlands in Nepal’ funded by UNDP, GEF and the Government of Nepal. She was responsible for the management and the technical execution of the project. She also worked at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Kathmandu, where she was part of a multidisciplinary and multicultural team conducting secondary research in the areas of sustainable livelihoods of the mountain people, sustainable mountain development and green mountain economy and technology.
Dede Amah, Assistant Advisor for Africa (Togo)
Ms. Dede Amah is a citizen of the Republic of Togo. She has worked with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations for the past 7 years in the field of natural resources management and operational support to countries in the Africa Region.
Prior to joining the Ramsar Convention Secretariat, she contributed, together with a team of experts from the continent and abroad, to processes leading to the development of two important guidelines for the Region: 1. Guidelines for the sustainable development of inland wetlands for agriculture in Africa (2013) and 2. Guidelines for the institutionalization and implementation of Community-based Forest Management in Sub-Saharan Africa (2012).
She has also been instrumental in the conception and successful implementation of a Spanish-funded project on Aquaculture Investments for poverty reduction in the Volta Basin (2007-2011) in Ghana, Togo, Benin, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso, as well as in a 3-year joint initiative by FAO and the African Union Commission to build a Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel in Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Mali and Niger where the livelihoods of millions of rural people are threatened by desertification and land degradation (2010-2012).
She is experienced in organizing high level regional and technical meetings and in designing awareness materials like posters and brochures on issues related to nature conservation. She has travelled extensively on the African continent as part of her duties.