The Secretariat manages the ABS Initiative and serves as focal point for member and partner relations. It is responsible for implementing activities and ensuring the financial and institutional stability of the Initiative.
The Secretariat operates within the agreed annual work program and budget lines. It takes all relevant decisions to move activities forward, such as hiring consultants, commissioning studies, attending meetings, and supporting resource persons.
Secretariat members are:
Andreas Drews - Manager - General Management, Pacific
Andreas is founder and manager of the ABS Initiative. He guided the transformation of the Africa-focused ABS Initiative into a multi-donor platform with long-term funding for ABS capacity development in the African, Caribbean and Pacific regions.
Andreas is a biologist by training and holds a PhD in the natural sciences. He served as a consultant on biological pest control and natural resource management, mainly to programmes of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ, today: GIZ) GmbH.
Since 1995 he advises the GIZ programme Implementing the Biodiversity Convention on ABS and traditional knowledge. He conceptualizes and supports projects and trainings on the development and implementation of ABS regulations in Asia and Africa. Since 2000, as a member of the German delegation, he advises the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) on the ABS process under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
Eva Fenster - Programme Officer/Legal Advisor
Eva conducts research and is responsible for the preparation of legal recommendations and policy concepts, public relations and the conception of international conferences.
Eva holds a Master Degree in Laws from the University of Manchester and spent a year on exchange at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. After completing her postgraduate degree in the UK, she studied at Sorbonne University in Paris to gain knowledge of the French legal system and to enhance her language skills.
Eva has a broad range of experience in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development. Before joining the ABS Initiative, she worked as a consultant for “International Services” at the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH in the Regional Directorate Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Her consulting work focused on the acquisition and management of projects in Africa. She also gained work experience at the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH in Beijing, at GIZ in the regional programme "Promotion of the Rule of Law in Central Asia" in Tashkent, Uzbekistan and at GIZ headquarters in Eschborn.
Eva speaks German, English and French and has basic knowledge of Russian and Amharic.
Hartmut Meyer - Senior Advisor - Marine Bioprospecting, Caribbean, East Africa
Hartmut Meyer works as senior advisor for the ABS Initiative. He oversees the work in the Caribbean and East African regions including the cooperations with the CARICOM Secretariat and the African Union
Hartmut is a biologist by training and holds a PhD in plant biochemistry and molecular biology. He worked as a scientist in projects on microbial forest soil ecology. From 1997 to 2013, he worked as a consultant for various organisations on biopolicy issues. He followed the negotiation of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety for the German NGO Forum Environment & Development. From 2001 to 2012, he worked as consultant for GTZ to support the implementation of the Cartagena Protocol.Commission.
Hartmut started to work on access and benefit sharing issues in 1998. He followed the negotiations of the Bonn Guidelines and the Nagoya Protocol in cooperation with German Church Development Service (EED), now Bread for the World-Protestant Development Service. From 2011 to 2013, he joined the ABS Initiative as a consultant. He (co)authored several ABS publications in English and German, his new research field in the ABS Initiative is marine bioprospection.
Joretha Després - Senior Technical Advisor "ABS Compliante Biotrade in Southern Africa"
Joretha is the Senior Technical Advisor of the ABS Compliant Biotrade in Southern Africa programme (ABioSA), funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). The programme’s aim is to support the building of a high-growth innovative biotrade sector that creates jobs and contributes to sustainable use of biodiversity in South Africa and the Southern African region.
Based in Pretoria, Joretha is responsible for the national coordination of the programme. She holds an engineering degree, an ACCA diploma in accounting and finance and a specialised masters in enterprise performance and management control. While working for the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa (IDC), she acquired valuable project finance and project management experience. In France, where she was based from 2010 before joining GIZ in South Africa she worked as a consultant, paticularly for PhytoTrade Africa, and obtained valuable experience in the natural products sector. She acquired multiple skills during her career across various industries, mainly in natural ingredients and cosmetics, agro-processing and tourism.
Lena Fey - Programme Officer - IPLCS, TK, ITPGRFA
Lena focuses on indigenous peoples and local communities, traditional knowledge and the linkages between the Nagoya Protocol and the International Treaty for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. She also contributes to the Initiative's activities regarding marine bioprospecting.
Before joining the ABS team, Lena worked as an intern at the GIZ regional department for Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. She gained additional experience as an intern and freelancer at the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) and as an assistant for a research project on alpine pastures in Kyrgyzstan. She volunteered in environmental education projects and worked as a student assistant at the research group for Development Geography at Bonn University.
Lena studied geography, botany and political science in Germany and Ireland, focusing on nature conservation and development geography. For her Master's thesis, she spent three months in Georgia, exploring agricultural knowledge systems of small-scale farmers. She is fluent in German and English and holds basic knowledge of French, Italian and Spanish.
Nature Conservation has long been one of Lena's major fields of interest. During her studies, she developed a particular interest in the relationship between nature and human society, especially in the nexus of biodiversity conservation, development and the role of (local) knowledge.
Mélanie Bassiouris - Event Manager
As an experienced member of the event management team Mélanie is responsible for the event and travel logistics. With her intercultural competence Mélanie ensures the smooth preparation and realization of ABS events.
Mélanie is a true expert in logistics and customer care as she worked as Passenger Service Assistant at Frankfurt Airport for many years. She joined GIZ in 2008 as Office Manager and since 2009 works for the ABS Initiative.
If you wonder about the acute accent on the "e" in her name it is indeed a reliable indicator that Mélanie has French roots. The other part of her is Greek (see last name). However, she grew up in Germany and therefore has two mother tongues: German and French. She also speaks English and Portuguese and likes to broaden her mind by travelling to Africa where she has already organized many events.
Nadine Girard - Event Manager
Nadine is coordinator of event management and thereby responsible for the logistics of events carried out by the ABS Initiative in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. With her patience and clear view she ensures the smooth implementation of coordinating participants, selecting hotels and conference venues, taking care of budget-follow-ups and ― not to be underestimated ― troubleshooting.
Holding a Master's degree in Marketing & Sales, Nadine has worked several years as a Marketing & Sales Assistant and Communication Manager in different industry sectors in France and Germany. Her current commitment mirrors her personal passion to communicate with people from different cultures, ideally in German, English, French, Spanish and Portuguese at the same time. Nadine is a true multi-tasker.
Peter Schauerte - Programme Officer - Francophone Africa, COMIFAC
Peter is focusing on policy and value chain development in the French speaking countries of Africa, including the Initiative’s cooperation with the Central African Forests Commission (COMIFAC).
He studied biology in Germany, the United States and Indonesia and holds a M.Sc. in marine ecology.
After having worked for environmental NGOS and foundations, in the forestry sector and for a government fisheries department, he joined GIZ in 2008 where he was advisor to COMIFAC in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
Peter accumulated valuable experiences in the organization of multi-stakeholder processes and the implementation of ABS in the field. He accompanied the elaboration of the first regional ABS strategy in Central Africa and facilitated the negotiation and signature of a the first ABS agreement in Cameroon. He also gained experiences in sub-regional intergovernmental negotiations and in the communication of environment related topics.
Peter speaks German, French and English with basic knowledge in Spanish and Indonesian.
Suhel al-Janabi – Co-Manager - Private Sector, Southern and Central Africa, Maghreb
Suhel, with German and Iraqi roots, is Executive Director of our partner agency GeoMedia GmbH and at the same time Co-Manager of the ABS Initiative. He has accompanied the Initiative since its foundation in 2005. Being in charge of several ABS multi-stakeholder processes in Africa and the Caribbean he maintains close working relations with the private sector and the donors of the ABS Initiative.
Suhel studied Geography, Ecology, and Economics and taught at the University of Bonn and Abidjan. He worked for several worldwide operating organizations, such as the German Foundation for International Development (DSE), Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the Bonn Convention under the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP-CMS). He is also member of the German Delegation to relevant international conferences.
Coming from the field of nature protection, Suhel is convinced that biodiversity has a great commercial value and that ― with the right mechanism in place ― its utilization can contribute to conservation and eradication of poverty at the same time.
Tobias Dierks – Communication and Knowledge Management
Tobias is strategizing, coordinating and implementing communication and knowledge management approaches for the ABS Initiative. He pulls the strings himself when necessary and hands the strings over if possible. His responsibilities range from revamping the website to re-arranging the Data Management System, publishing articles and holding contact with the media.
Tobias holds a Master's degree in Sociology and knows the world of media from several perspectives: as an online editor, print journalist, TV editor, producer and script writer for several series. He has worked for widely recognized companies, such as Springer Verlag, Sat 1 and constantin entertainment.
After years in entertainment media Tobias turned to the field of development in 2006. He started off as an advisor for communication for the German Development Service (DED, since 2010 part of GIZ) in Niger, worked as Regional Information Officer West and Central Africa at ICRISAT (International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-arid Tropics) and before joining GIZ was in charge of Outreach to Development Professionals at UNICEF headquarters in New York.