Cristiana Paşca Palmer today assumed office as the new Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the principal global treaty on biodiversity.
Adopted by governments in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro at the same time as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention has near-universal membership, with 196 Parties. The overarching goals of the Convention are the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources. Two protocols have been adopted under the Convention, the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, and the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization.
Ms. Paşca Palmer assumes her duties following the successful conclusion of the UN Biodiversity Conference (thirteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, Eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, Second meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing), held last December in Cancun, Mexico. Ms. Paşca Palmer has extensive experience in policymaking on the environment and sustainable development, as well as with the implementation policies, programmes and projects at the national and international levels.
A Romanian national, Ms. Paşca Palmer most recently served, from November 2015 to January 2017, as Romania’s Minister for Environment, Waters and Forests. In that capacity she headed the Romanian delegation at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, where she signed the agreement on behalf of Romania, the 2016 Marrakech Climate Change Conference, and the 2016 UN Biodiversity Conference in Cancun. As Head of the Ministry of Environment, Ms. Paşca Palmer oversaw eight individual agencies–including the National Environmental Protection Agency, the Environmental Fund Administration, the National Forest Authority, Romania’s Water Administration, and the Romanian Meteorological Administration—totaling approximately 30,000 staff and a $250 million annual budget.
Prior to serving as Minister for Environment, Waters and Forests, Ms. Paşca Palmer was Head of the Climate Change, Environment and Natural Resources Unit within the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development between 2011 and 2015. Her duties included overall management of European Union international cooperation and development in the areas of environment, climate change, forests, desertification, and disaster risk reduction. One of the most significant biodiversity related efforts conceived and led by Ms. Paşca Palmer was the design of the EU’s “Biodiversity for Life Initiative” (B4Life), a $1.2 billion comprehensive flagship program, financing innovative initiatives linking biodiversity conservation with food security and green economy transformation. She was also a Policy Analyst on International Relations and the Western Balkans in the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Climate Action, from 2010-2011.
Ms. Paşca Palmer also brings experience in mobilising civil society in support of the environment. She was the founder and president of Green Cross Romania and was Country Director Romania for Fauna & Flora International (FFI), often referred to as the world’s first conservation society, where she, among other things, managed FFI’s in-country operations in Romania during the implementation of a $8.8 million GEF and World Bank Biodiversity Conservation Project, which pioneered the first system for protected areas’ management in Romania in the post-communist era.
Born in 1968, Ms. Pașca Palmer holds a PhD in International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, with a focus on development economics, business management and environmental sustainability. She holds a Master in Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a Master of Science in Systems Ecology and Management of Natural Capital from the University of Bucharest. Ms. Pașca Palmer is the recipient of U.S. and European academic scholarships (Edward S. Mason, Joint Japan/World Bank, Marie Curie, and Henry R. Luce), and was awarded the Gorbachev Award for “significant contributions to the environment” by former USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev. She enjoys the outdoors and has a great interest in ethnography and folklore.
Ms. Paşca Palmer joins the Convention at a crucial moment, with only four years remaining in the UN Decade on Biodiversity, and for Parties to achieve the current Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. She will lead the preparations for the fourteenth Conference of the Parties which will take place in Egypt in 2018, the 25th anniversary of the year that the Convention entered into force in December 1993, and will also oversee the process for Parties to develop the set of commitments that go beyond 2020.
Ms. Paşca Palmer succeeds Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, who served as Executive Secretary between January 2012 and February 2017.
The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity is based in Montreal, Canada.