Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity
Cristiana Pașca Palmer was appointed by the United Nations Secretary‐General as the Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, starting 17 March 2017. Prior to her appointment, Ms. Paşca Palmer served from November 2015 to January 2017 as Romania’s Minister for Environment, Waters and Forests, during which time she also 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 subordinated 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.
She has extensive experience in global policymaking and in coordinating the implementation of environment and sustainable development policies, programmes and projects at the national and international levels. Ms. Paşca Palmer is a former Head of the Climate Change, Environment and Natural Resources Unit within the European Commission’s Directorate‐General for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO‐EuropeAID) between 2011 and 2015. There she was responsible for EuropeAid’s global policies and programs supporting biodiversity conservation and ecosystems management in developing countries, in addition to its global policies and programs on climate change, forests, water and sanitation, and green economy. To operationalize this work, she managed a $2.8 billion budget, with a large portion allocated towards biodiversity. 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. As well at the EU, she worked as a Policy Analyst on International Relations and the Western Balkans in the European Commission’s Directorate‐General for Climate Action, from 2010‐2011.
Ms. Pașca Palmer is a multidisciplinary practitioner and academic in international development with a strong focus on green economy and environmental sustainability, in addition to business management, international negotiations and environmental diplomacy. She possesses comprehensive knowledge of the UN system, especially with regards to the UN’s work on the environment and development. Prior to being appointed Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, one of her distinguished roles within the UN was her election as Vice‐President of the United Nations Environmental Assembly’s Bureau (UNEA 1), where she participated in the preparatory work for UNEA 2 and attended as a key note speaker. She was also one of two appointed EU negotiators on behalf of the European Commission for the Rio+20 Summit in 2012.
During a professional career spanning over twenty years, Ms. Pașca Palmer has also held various positions with local and international civil society organizations in Eastern Europe, with the World Bank Group/International Finance Corporation in Washington D.C., and has worked in academia as a policy researcher and teacher at Harvard University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. A social activist at heart, 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 the $8.8 million GEF and World Bank Biodiversity Conservation Project, which pioneered the first system for protected areas' management post‐communism.
Born in 1968, Ms. Pașca Palmer holds a PhD in International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in the United States with a focus on development economics, international business management, and environmental sustainability. She also 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 prestigious US and European academic scholarships (Edward S. Mason, Joint Japan/World Bank, Marie Curie, and Henry R. Luce), and was awarded by former President Mikhail Gorbachev, the Gorbachev Award for "significant contributions to the environment." In addition to her native Romanian, Ms. Pașca Palmer is fluent in English and French. She enjoys the outdoors and has a great interest in ethnography, folklore and traditional knowledge.