Elizabeth Mrema

Elizabeth Maruma Mrema is a Tanzanian biodiversity leader and lawyer, currently based out of Montreal, Canada, appointed executive secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 2020.[1] She is the first African woman to hold this role.[1] She previously held numerous leadership positions in the United Nations Environment Programme.

Elizabeth Mrema
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OccupationCivil servant Edit this on Wikidata


Mrema earned a Bachelor of Law from Tanzania's University of Dar-es-Salaam, followed by a Master of Law degree from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada and a Postgraduate Diploma in International Relations and Diplomacy from the Centre of Foreign Relations and Diplomacy in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.[2]


Before beginning work with UNEP, Mrema worked for Tanzania's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, serving as a Counsellor/Senior Legal Counsel.[3] She also lectured in Public International Law and Conference Diplomacy at Tanzania's Centre for Foreign Relations and Diplomacy.[3]

From 2009 to 2012, she worked at organizations based in Bonn, Germany.[3] In 2009, she was appointed Acting Executive Secretary of the UNEP/ASCOBANS (Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas) , Executive Secretary of the UNEP/Secretariat of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), and Interim Executive Secretary of the UNEP/Gorilla Agreement.[3]

Starting in 2012, she has been serving as Deputy Director of the Ecosystems Division at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). In this position she was tasked with overseeing the organization's coordination, operations, and programme delivery.[3] She was then appointed Director of the Law Division at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in June 2014.[3] In 2018 she additionally served as Acting Director of the Corporate Services Division.[3] In November 2019, Mrema served an interim position as Officer in Charge of the CBD Secretariat.[3] Starting in December 2019, she served as Acting Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Secretariat.[3] In July 2020 it was announced that she would be appointed the Executive Secretary role.[2]

Other professional workEdit

In addition to leadership roles, Mrema serves as a pro bono lecturer at the University of Nairobi - Law School, and has previously lectured pro bono at International Development Law Organization (IDLO), Rome, Italy.[3]

She has published numerous articles on international environmental law and developed influential handbooks and guidelines for multilateral environmental agreements as well as other topics on environmental law.[3]

Honors and awardsEdit

In 2007, she received the first-ever UNEP-wide Best Manager of the Year Award (the UNEP Baobab Staff Award) "for exceptional performance and dedication towards achieving the goals of UNEP"[3]


  1. ^ a b Mallapaty, Smriti (2020-06-30). "The biodiversity leader who is fighting for nature amid a pandemic". Nature. doi:10.1038/d41586-020-01947-9.
  2. ^ a b "Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity". United Nations Secretary-General. 2019-12-02. Retrieved 2020-07-01.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Environment, U. N. (2017-10-17). "Elizabeth Mrema". UNEP - UN Environment Programme. Retrieved 2020-07-01.