Margarita Astrálaga: Regional Director, UNEP Regional Office for Latin America & the Caribbean
Margarita Astrálaga, is a Colombian biologist, specialist in environmental management from the Danish Water Institute, and a Master in Regional Planning and Development. She has over 25 years of experience in the environment and sustainable development sector, including a wide-range of responsibilities, at the national and international levels. The first part of her career was devoted to the Colombian Environmental Agency, having responsibilities at the national level. In 1988 she was recruited by the United Nations Environment Programme in Nairobi, Kenya and was given responsibility for the Latin American and Caribbean Region of the Oceans and Coastal Areas Programme. In 1994 she joined the Secretariat of the Convention of Trade on Endangered Species (CITES), in Geneva, Switzerland, as Head of the Capacity Building Unit until 1997 when she left for Argentina where she worked as a consultant for the World Bank and the Inter American Development Bank, on institutional strengthening of the Ministry of Environment and designing a biodiversity strategy for Patagonia. In 1999 she joined the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands as the Americas Senior Advisor, working extensively with the Latin American and Caribbean Governments and International and National NGOs, as well as being responsible for global marine issues within the framework of the Convention. In addition, she was a member of the Board of the Conservation Trust and was a council member of Wetlands International. She has been actively involved in marine and coastal issues throughout her career, participating actively in ICRI, (International Coral Reef Initiative), Law of the Sea meetings and the Global Oceans Forum. Until April 2010 she was working for the International Union for Conservation of Nature as the Director of the IUCN Mediterranean Cooperation Centre, located in Malaga, Spain.