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GEF CEO and Chairperson Carlos Manuel Rodriguez sees the setbacks of 2020 as an opportunity to reset society’s relationship with the environment and shift business-as-usual approaches toward more sustainable models. Speaking with Mongabay in an October 2020 interview, Rodriguez says the pandemic recovery presents a chance to rethink the economic system that “got us in this problem,” through “confrontative relationships between humans and nature.”


Miguel Stutzin is a Chilean veterinarian and international environment specialist who serves as his country’s Operational Focal Point to the Global Environment Facility. In an interview, he shared his hopes for a green recovery to the coronavirus pandemic. 

What do you do for a living?

Throughout my life, I have been able to complement my passion and work on environmental conservation with veterinary clinical practice, which has been really gratifying.


As a Global Environment Facility Country Officer, Seo-Jeong Yoon helps government officials across Asia and the Pacific plan and advance GEF-supported projects to address environmental degradation and protection. In an interview, she reflected on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected her work across 14 time zones and how growing up in rural South Korea shaped her views about land stewardship.

What do you enjoy most about your job?


In an article for Foreign Policy, GEF CEO and Chairperson Carlos Manuel Rodriguez and World Wildlife Fund President and CEO Carter Roberts write that the choice is simple: accept devastating wildfires, extreme weather, species loss, and disease outbreaks or secure a sustainable future at a fraction of the cost.


Pilar Barrera Rey is a Senior Operations Officer who manages stakeholder engagement for the Global Environment Facility, with a focus on supporting civil society organizations. She also oversees the GEF Small Grants Programme, which funds community-based environmental projects. In an interview, she reflected on the importance of seeking out diverse perspectives and voices and uplifting local conservation heroes.

Why are civil society organizations important to the GEF’s mission?


As the GEF’s Country Relations Officer for Sub-Saharan Africa, Susan Matindi Waithaka is the primary point of contact for government officials and civil society organizations from 48 countries working with the Global Environment Facility to tackle tough challenges. In an interview, she shared how her love of geography and teaching led her to a career focused on building relationships in support of collaborative solutions for the environment.

What does your job entail?


UNEP Program Management Officer Ludovic Bernaudat works to help developing countries reduce exposure to toxic chemicals, including mercury, through the GEF-supported planetGOLD and ISLANDS programs. In an interview, he reflected on the importance of bringing together people and institutions with different perspectives to tackle tough environmental challenges.

When did you start to become interested in global environmental issues?


Paola Ridolfi is Manager of the Global Environment Facility’s Policy, Partnerships, and Operations unit. In an interview, she reflected on how her team is helping countries and communities stay focused on environmental priorities during the COVID crisis and shared how her love of studying caves has informed how she approaches new challenges.

What do you like about your job?


Javier Antonio Gutiérrez Ramírez is Nicaragua’s Vice Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, and the country’s GEF Operational Focal Point. He spends much of his time visiting rural communities to learn first-hand about conservation challenges and solutions. In an interview, he reflected on GEF-sponsored initiatives that are helping Nicaraguan families adopt forest-friendly practices while boosting their incomes.

What sparked your interest in environmental work?


As Lead Environmental Specialist at the Global Environment Facility, Mohamed Bakarr oversees programs that support integrated solutions to challenges related to agriculture, forestry, and livelihoods in developing countries. In an interview, he shared how his doctoral research in tropical biology informed his views about the linkages between human and natural systems and why protecting the environment requires work at the intersection of the two.

When did you first become interested in environmental issues?