Ramsar chooses new MedWet Coordinator
The Ramsar Bureau is delighted to announce that Mr Spyros Kouvelis of Greece has been selected from an excellent field of candidates to be the new MedWet Coordinator, replacing Mr Thymio Papayannis, one of MedWets founders, who will continue to contribute his efforts as Senior Policy Advisor on a part-time basis. Mr Kouvelis has a BSc in Economics from the University of Athens and an MSc in Agricultural/Environmental Economics from the University of Reading in the UK. He has worked extensively with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) as a member of a number of policy teams with WWF International, as chair of the WWF Mediterranean Regional Team, and as Acting Chief Executive Officer of WWF Greece from 1995 to 1997. From 1997 to 2000 he has assisted as an Athens-based consultant to the WWF European Policy Office, whilst at the same time employed as Advisor to the Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Environment, Planning and Public Works in the Government of Greece. He has also served as a consultant to the National Centre for Marine Research in Greece. Mr Kouvelis is married, with one young child, and works in English and French as well as Greek.
The MedWet Coordinator is an outposted Ramsar Bureau position, reporting directly to the Secretary General. In a new arrangement based upon a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Greece, the MedWet Coordination Unit is being set up in Athens in facilities supplied by the Government. It is only coincidental, however, that the new Coordinator is himself of Greek nationality, as he was selected from an impressive multinational field of candidates from all round the Mediterranean basin. He will be joined in the Unit by a newly-chosen Policy Advisor and by two technical officers to be seconded at the Greek Governments expense from EKBY (the Greek Biotope/Wetlands Centre in Thessaloniki). (EKBY is one of MedWets three scientific and technical support institutions, along with the Station Biologique de la Tour du Valat in France and SEHUMED in Valencia, Spain.)
In an additional development, the Secretary General has appointed Mr Nejib Benessaiah to assist the new MedWet Coordinator as Policy Advisor, also to be based in the Coordination Unit in Athens. Mr Benessaiah is a Tunisian national and has been trained in Paris and Montpellier as an architect and urban planner. Following a number of years working as a technical advisor with the United Nations Centre of Human Settlements-Habitat in many parts of subsaharan Africa, he has been involved with MedWet since 1996, particularly in socio-economic issues, and is known to many for his role in some of MedWets most impressive publications, particularly Mediterranean Wetlands: Socio-economic Aspects, published in 1998 by DG XI of the European Commission for the Ramsar Convention. Married with two children, Mr Benessaiah works in French, English, and Arabic, and to some extent in Greek as well.