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Staff

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Rik Kutsch Lojenga

Executive Director

Rik has been the Executive Director of UEBT since its creation in 2008. He is an expert on sustainable BioTrade in support of the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity.  He spent more than a decade with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), where he was involved in the creation of the BioTrade Initiative and helped to conceptualise the idea of UEBT.  He has also served as the Board Chair of ISEAL, the umbrella group for sustainability standards.  Rik grew up in the Netherlands, where he earned a Master’s degree in business and environmental economics.

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Maria Julia Oliva

Deputy Director & Senior Coordinator for ABS and Policy

With UEBT since 2009, Julia is a trained lawyer and a global expert on access and benefit sharing (ABS) of genetic resources.  She provides training and technical support on legal and policy issues linked to innovation and sourcing of biodiversity. She collaborates with international organisations, governments, and companies. Julia is a member of the IUCN Commission on Environmental Law, the IUCN Synthetic Biology Technical Subgroup, and the Board of Directors of IP-Watch.  She has law and LL.M degrees.

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Bertjan Bouman

Operations and Finance Director

With UEBT since 2012, Bertjan is responsible for finance, administration and back office support. Prior to joining UEBT, he worked in various development agencies, including in Nepal where he advised and managed community health and development projects. After his return to the Netherlands, he began studying finance, focusing on improved synergies between financial reporting and project management. He earned a Master's degree in Development Studies at Wageningen University and is an ACCA qualified accountant.

 
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Simona D'Amico

M&E and Biodiversity Expert

Simona manages UEBT’s monitoring and evaluation (M&E) program and supports UEBT members’ efforts on biodiversity conservation and restoration. Simona holds a PhD in Rural Sociology from Wageningen University. She has worked on European research projects on policies for organic farming and sustainable food systems, as well as the valorisation of agrobiodiversity through sustainable agrifood chains. 

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Rodrigo de Próspero

Standards and Assurance Coordinator

Now based in our Amsterdam office, previously Rodrigo worked for UEBT in Brazil on technical and membership issues for UEBT’s Latin American members. Rodrigo has worked as sustainability coordinator at Natura Cosmetics in Brazil, at the Secretariat for the Environment of Sao Paulo, and as an organic auditor.

Nelly Debril

Membership and Communications Officer

Nelly is in charge of communications and the coordination of the UEBT annual conference. She has worked as a media monitoring specialist for the French Ministry of Environment, and also worked for two years at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Nelly holds a Master's degree in International Relations from the Institute of the Oriental Languages and Civilizations (INALCO) in Paris.

 
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Rina Razanakolona

Madagascar Representative

Rina previously worked as a consultant for GIZ, UEBT, and Label CBD on value chain development, access and benefit sharing, bio-cultural community protocols, and certification. She holds an Engineer's Degree in Agronomy from the Higher School of Agronomic Sciences, University of Antananarivo, Madagascar and a Master's degree in Food Sciences and Technologies from the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences of Gembloux and Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium.

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Ronaldo Santos de Freitas

Latin America Representative

Based in Brazil, Ronaldo previously worked for 11 years for Natura Cosmetics on the development of supply chain biodiversity, access and benefit sharing, traceability, and territorial development in the Brazilian Amazon. He was also responsible for developing the strategy of education on sustainability in Natura Mexico. Ronaldo has a degree in Agronomic Engineering and a post-graduate degree in cooperativism and environmental analysis.

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Jerida Sinange

Standards and Certification Expert

Jerida  brings close to eight years of experience working in the certification and sustainability standards sector. Previously, Jerida worked for Rainforest Alliance in Eastern and Southern Africa. She holds a Master's degree from the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.

 
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Karène Volpato

Standards and Certification Expert

Karène works with UEBT on a part-time basis. Previously, she worked in a Fair Trade and Social Responsibility certification body in Chile and Argentina, and was an auditor for Ecocert and the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO). Karène holds a Master degree in International Trade and Strategic Information, with a special mention in Fair Trade.

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Xiaoou Zheng

Research Assistant

Xiaoou Zheng works part-time on access and benefit sharing. She is a lawyer with a Master's Degree in Environmental Law, and currently a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh.