Elizabeth Mrema

Co-Chair, TNFD; Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations; Deputy Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Elizabeth Maruma Mrema is Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Deputy Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and Co-Chair of the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD). Prior to her current role, she was Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), leading the negotiations at COP15 to the agreement of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. Elizabeth’s work as Deputy Director of the Ecosystems Division at UNEP focused on the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws both at the national, regional and international level.

She was the Director of the Law Division and has worked with UNEP for over two decades. Prior to joining the Law Division in June 2014, she was the Deputy Director of the Ecosystems Division, in charge of coordination, operations and programme delivery from 2012 and for one year, also serviced as Acting Director to the same Division. In 2018, in addition to her role as the Law Division Director, she was also the Acting Director of the Corporate Services Division where she led the management of the human resources, financial operations and management and other administrative functions for the entire Organization.

In 2009 she had been appointed as the Executive Secretary of the UNEP/Secretariat of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), Acting Executive Secretary of the UNEP/ASCOBANS and Interim Executive Secretary of the UNEP/Gorilla Agreement, all based in Bonn, Germany and held that position until 2012 and thereafter she joined the Ecosystems Division in Nairobi, Kenya. In these portfolios, she over saw and ensure effective conservation of migratory animals globally as well as implementation of a number of specific species agreements covering geographical areas where animals or birds or marine species migrate during their lifetime.

In 2021, the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law (WCEL), in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), awarded Elizabeth with the Nicholas Robinson Award for Excellence in Environmental Law. This prestigious honour was bestowed in recognition of Elizabeth’s career achievements, dedicated to advancing the environmental rule of law.

Elizabeth's work at UNEP has focused on the development, implementation and enforcement environmental laws both at national, regional and international level. She has played different roles in UNEP over the years that have included being a coordinator of capacity building and compliance and enforcement projects related to environmental law and the multilateral environmental conventions. She was a Senior Legal Officer and Chief of the Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) Support and Cooperation Branch in the then Division of Environmental Conventions (DEC), and later a Principal Legal Officer and Chief of the Biodiversity/Land Law and Governance Branch in the then Division of Environmental Law and Conventions.

Before joining UNEP, Elizabeth worked with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Republic of Tanzania and left as a Counsellor/Senior Legal Counsel. During her time with the ministry, she was also a lecturer in Public International Law and Conference Diplomacy at Tanzania's Centre for Foreign Relations and Diplomacy. She had also served as a pro bono visiting lecturer at the University of Nairobi Law School and in the past at the International Development Law Organization (IDLO), Rome, Italy.

A lawyer and career diplomat with LLB (Hons) from the University of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, LLM from Dalhousie University, Canada and Postgraduate Diploma in International Relations and Diplomacy (Summa Cum Laude) from the Centre of Foreign Relations and Diplomacy in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. She has published several articles related to international environmental law, compliance and enforcement of conventions and developed, among others, a number of multilateral environmental agreements negotiation tools, handbooks and guidelines currently used by UNEP in its capacity-building programmes.

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