Staff of the Ramsar Secretariat
Anada Tiéga, Secretary General (Niger)
A citizen of Niger, Mr Anada Tiéga earned his BS degree from the University of Niamey and his MS degree in Forest Watershed Management from the University of Arizona (USA). He has many years' experience in working with wetland conservation and sustainable use both at local level and internationally, and he has a strong record of successful work in coordinating large groups of government officials, donors, regional collaborative commissions, non-governmental environmental organizations, and field scientists and practitioners. He served for some years in the environmental administration of Niger, including as National Director of Wildlife and Fisheries, following which he worked for The World Conservation Union (IUCN) first in Niger then as Regional Coordinator for West Africa. In 1998, Mr Anada Tiéga became Regional Coordinator (currently referred to as Senior Advisor) for Africa for the Ramsar Convention at its headquarters in Gland, Switzerland, and in his nearly six years with the Ramsar Secretariat he built productive relationships with the authorities and organizations in the Africa region, and thoroughly learned the workings of the Convention at the global level. Between 2003 and 2007, he was the Project Manager for the Lake Chad Basin GEF project on "Reversal of Land and Water Degradation Trends in the Lake Chad Basin Ecosystem", based in N'Djamena, Chad. Since August 2007, Mr Anada Tiega has been serving as the Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention. In this post he takes on a position of strategic leadership to guarantee the implementation of the Convention; moreover he works to ensure that the Contracting Parties are fully engaged and working in partnership with other conventions so as to secure sustainable development. His actions aim mainly at widening the “Ramsar Community”, while stressing the value of wetlands in natural resource conservation and sustainable development.
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, status)
Hong Kong-born Chinese holding British citizenship, 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.
Dwight Peck, Documentation Officer (USA)
From New Jersey, USA; joined the Secretariat as part-time help in 1993 (full-time in 1995). 2 BAs in Philosophy and English Lit, Univ Kansas - 2 world records in track and field relay events; MA and PhD, Renaissance Literature, Ohio Univ.; MLS, Library Science, Univ. Rhode Island. Instructor, Ohio Univ.; Ass't Prof, Western Civilization, History of Ideas, Oklahoma Bapt Univ; Assoc Prof., Comparative Lit, American College of Switzerland. Head Librarian, Academic Dean, American College of Switzerland. Librarian, American Library of Geneva. Publications: articles and one book on 16th century history, etc. Formerly Ramsar Communications Officer, presently half-time, responsible for official documentation and publications.
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.
Oana Penea-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.
Virginie Pirens, Project Management Officer (Belgium)
Virginie coordinates and administers the many activities undertaken and planned in partnership with, and with support from, the Danone-Evian Group. Virginie holds masters degrees in European Studies and in Oriental Languages and Literature. She moved to the Ramsar Convention in September 2010 after working for two companies, Capital International SA and J.P. Morgan. Her work in the private sector has provided her with a good understanding of project and risk management, accounting, data analysis and assessment practices. Most recently, Virginie has gained Project Management Professional certification (PMP), from the Project Management Institute, USA. In addition, her language skills and her commitment to and interest in environmental conservation make her an ideal ambassador and facilitator for the ongoing and future undertakings in the framework of our longstanding partnership with the Danone Group since 1998.
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.
Valerie Higgins, Administrative Officer (UK)
Valerie studied at Oxford Brookes University, then worked for the British Foreign Service. Her working languages are English, French and some Spanish. She joined the Secretariat in 1996, where she oversees most administrative matters and is in charge of human resources management and in-house databases. For Ramsar Conferences of the Parties she manages registration.
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.
Nessrine Alzahlawi, Assistant Advisor for the Asia-Pacific (Syria)
Originally from Syria, Nessrine holds a Master of Science degree in Aquatic Biology and Resources Management from the University of Exeter, United Kingdom. She has worked in the United Arab Emirates as a conservation officer with the Emirates Wildlife Society – World Wide Fund for Nature, leading a project on sustainable fisheries in the Gulf. She has also worked with the United Nations University - Institute for Water, Environment and Health, assisting with research on the impact of large scale developments on coastal ecosystems. Nessrine speaks English, French and Arabic. Her interests include aquatic biology, conservation ecology, protected area development and management, and the role of education and public participation in conservation in the societies of the Middle East.
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.
Ako Charlotte Eyong, Assistant Advisor for Africa (Cameroon)
Ako Charlotte Eyong is a Cameroonian citizen with a BSc. Degree in Environmental Science from the University of Buea in Cameroon and an MSc. Degree in Water Resources Management and Environmental Protection with a thesis on “Integrated Water Resources Management” from the University of Dschang. Charlotte’s career objective is working towards the integrated management of the environment to promote sustainable development. Charlotte speaks both French and English. She has four years working experience mostly in environmental-related NGOs as an intern, volunteer, and consultant and she is excited to contribute to the Ramsar Convention’s objective of wetland conservation and wise use.