Acting Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity
The United Nations Secretary-General has designated Dr. David Cooper as Acting Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) as of 15 February. David succeeds Ms. Elizabeth Mrema who has been appointed Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme.
Prior to his appointment, David had been the Deputy Executive Secretary at the CBD Secretariat since October 2015, where he assisted the Executive Secretary by leading the strategic and planning activities of the Secretariat, as well as the intergovernmental processes and activities under the Convention and its two protocols -- the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing.
David has more than 30 years of experience in environmental and agricultural science and policy, and international negotiations, including more than 20 years with the CBD. He has built strong and productive working relationships with Parties in all regions and with partners in civil society, international organisations, and the scientific community. As Secretary of the fifteenth meeting of the CBD Conference of the Parties (COP 15), held in Kunming, China (in October 2021) and in Montreal, Canada (in December 2022), David was instrumental in facilitating the complex pathway that led to the successful finalisation and adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework and other key decisions, including those on digital sequence information on genetic resources, and on resource mobilisation.
David was previously Director of the division for science, assessment and monitoring at the Secretariat. Prior to that, he coordinated implementation of the Convention’s strategic plans, including through the national biodiversity strategies and action plans, and led various work programmes, including on agricultural biodiversity, drylands, plant conservation, climate change and engagement with the private sector.
Before joining the CBD Secretariat, he worked at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, for the international non-governmental organisation Genetic Resources Action International (GRAIN), the United Nations Association (UK) and in the Agricultural Research Council of the United Kingdom.
David was a lead author for the third, fourth and fifth editions of the Global Biodiversity Outlook, the Convention’s flagship publication. He has also contributed to various assessments of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and was a lead author for the Biodiversity Synthesis of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. He has edited four books on agricultural biodiversity and has written numerous papers on biodiversity science and policy, including papers in high-impact journals.
He holds an MA in Agricultural and Forest Sciences and a DPhil in Plant Physiology, both from the University of Oxford.