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In Memoriam: Johan Hedlund (1962 – 2022)


Johan Hedlund

(1962 – 2022)


With immense sadness, we announce the untimely death of our colleague, Johan Hedlund, who held the position of Associate Information Officer at the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity since 2006.

Originally from Sweden, he spent his early childhood in Tokyo, Japan. He took great pride in telling us that when he was only 10 years old, he attended the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, making him the youngest delegate there. Fast-forward to 2006, he joined UNEP, which was established as a result of that very same conference. He knew that this was where he was meant to be. 

For almost two decades Johan worked primarily behind the scenes editing and writing press releases, statements, and speeches for four Executive Secretaries. He understood the power of the written word and considered his role to be a distinct privilege. His belief in what the UN stood for was unwavering and he reminded us often not to take that privilege for granted. 

His philosophy has always been to do his best, to take a humble approach to his work, and to try to create a fun, accommodating and respectful environment for all. His professionalism, his kindness and his wits made the Secretariat a better place to work. 

Johan appreciated and loved jazz, rock, literature, culture, the Blue Jays baseball team and… cephalopods, “amazingly wondrous and sentient beings” as he fondly referred to them. He believed that humour is good for the soul and this is what many will remember him for. 

The Secretariat offers its sincere condolences to his brother, his family and relatives. Those who wish to share their memories of Johan and to convey words of comfort for his loved ones are invited to do so by writing to

Johan’s passing is a devastating loss for the CBD Secretariat, our sadness is lessened only slightly with the comforting thought that we had the privilege to know him.