Meet Our Team
Mandy George is team leader for the “Coordinated Assessments for Environment in Humanitarian Action” initiative, a collaborative effort among the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the UN Environment/Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Joint Environment Unit (JEU). Her background is in the greening of humanitarian operations as well as in community engagement and accountability. She has been working in the humanitarian sector for over ten years, largely with the Red Cross Movement as well as with the Joint UNOCHA/UNEP Environment Unit on their environment in humanitarian action portfolio. She has also worked with various parts of the Red Cross Movement to develop and implement minimum standards for quality and accountability of humanitarian operations, most recently with the IFRC both in Myanmar and globally. She has a Masters degree in Environment and Development from Kings College in London. Her particular area of interest remains on the cross section between the humanitarian and the environmental and the role that community engagement plays in this.
Dr. Erika Clesceri is a US Government official overseeing environmental safeguards for democracy, conflict and humanitarian assistance initiatives with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Dr. Clesceri brings over 25 years of experience in applied scientific research, environmental policy implementation, and international development. She is currently senior Bureau Environmental Officer developing policies to integrate safeguards into humanitarian action in over 35 countries; including for food security, complex crises and vertical–build educational and medical infrastructure. In 2015, she supported the Government of Nepal’s post-earthquake Rapid Environmental Assessment, building upon lessons from the 2010 USAID Haiti Rapid Environmental Assessment. She is leading a global effort to reduce losses in agricultural commodity storage through improved use of fumigant pesticide (as in: USAID Programmatic Environmental Assessment), including those used by the UN World Food Programme. She also served on the advisory board for the American Red Cross-World Wildlife Fund Green Recovery and Reconstruction Training (GRRT) Toolkit developed after the 2004 Indonesian Tsunami. While with academia and the federal United States Geological Survey, she conducted field- and molecular tracer-based research on ecosystem stressors along eastern and western seacoasts of the United States, including Alaska. She holds a Ph.D. and Masters of Science in environmental sciences and engineering from the University of North Carolina, Gillings School of Global Public Health (USA), and a Bachelors of Science in chemistry from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (USA) with one year in the King's Buildings at the College of Science and Engineering, University of Edinburgh (UK).
Emilia Wahlstrom is the Officer in Charge of the UN Environment/OCHA Joint Unit, working on environmental emergency preparedness and response. Through her activities she supports member states’ and global actors’ readiness to respond to environmental emergencies and to address the environmental impacts of humanitarian action. Working with a wide network of response partners, she develops guidance, shares good practice and facilitates capacity development initiatives, including training programmes and workshops linking to the Environmental Emergencies Centre (www.eecentre.org). As a trained United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination mechanism member, she also participates and leads environmental emergency response missions. Before the Joint Unit, Emilia worked with the United Nations Development Programme in Kazakhstan, in charge of the portfolio on natural and man-made disasters. She has a Master’s degree in chemical engineering and has also worked several years with industry actors on environmental management systems, legal compliance and chemicals management.
Raymond Von Culin is an international environmental and social management specialist, with over 8 years’ experience working in emerging and developing economies on matters related to disaster response and recovery, infrastructure development, land tenure and resource rights, natural resource management, biodiversity, urban planning, health, and pollution. His expertise focus is performing assessment scoping exercises, developing safeguard instruments to ensure compliance with host country and donor safeguards requirements, and improving institutional capacity and procedures to guide future project design and policy implementation. Raymond has undertaken environmental and social impact analysis, monitoring, and due diligence auditing services for projects across a wide range of sectors and industries. He has successfully completed projects with USAID, Millennium Challenge Corporation, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, and the World Bank where he supported the development of the Malawi drought post-disaster needs assessment as the environment lead in 2016. He has a B.A. International Business and Management from Dickinson College and an M.S. in Sustainable Urban Planning form George Washington University.
Michael Minkoff, is an international environmental management specialist, expert on USAID environmental compliance requirements, with 9 years of field- and desk-based environmental, natural resource management, and international development experience. He has leveraged his background in international political economy and environmental policy to support design and oversight of environmental management systems for post-crisis or post-conflict tranisition programs, conduct environmental impact assessments for development projects in sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern Europe, and lead tropical forestry and biodiversity assessments. Mr. Minkoff has additionally conducted trainings on USAID’s environmental compliance and resource management requirements across multiple locations in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, reaching more than 250 USAID staff and partners. Mr. Minkoff has a B.A. in Political Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin and an M.A. in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, at Tufts University. Mr. Minkoff is currently an Associate at the Cadmus Group, Inc. (Cadmus), which serves as Prime Contractor for USAID’s Global Environmental Management Support (GEMS II) Project, through which this Initiative is being implemented.
Anita van Breda is senior director of Environment and Disaster Management at World Wildlife Fund, leading WWF’s work supporting environmentally responsible disaster recovery, reconstruction and risk reduction including policy development, operations and training. A key component of her work is training and capacity-building on integrating environmentally responsible practices into disaster recovery, reconstruction and risk reduction. Anita was instrumental in WWF’s development of the Green Recovery and Reconstruction: Training Toolkit for Humanitarian Aid (GRRT) and has worked with environmental, humanitarian and development agencies on disasters in Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Philippines, Nepal, Ecuador, Guatemala, Chile and elsewhere. Currently Anita is leading the development of a training program to support the use of a new WWF guidebook Natural and Nature Based Flood Management: A Green Guide (WWF 2016 funded by US Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance). Anita has a bachelor’s degree in biology and a graduate degree from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. She is co-lead of the UN Emergency Shelter Cluster Environment community of practice; serves as advisor on environment, disaster risk reduction and climate change for the Sphere Project; is a member of the OCHA/UNEP Joint Environment Unit environment advisory group, member of UNHCR Energy and Environment advisory committee and a member of UNDP Civil Society advisory committee.
Dr. Amare Gebre Egziabher is the Senior Environmental Coordinator for the Division of Programme Support and Management at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). He provides leadership in policy development and strategic planning for the global environment sector in UNHCR operations. He also coordinates the implementation of the Global Strategy for SAFE Access to Fuel and Energy (SAFE) in order to improve the security and wellbeing of refugees, especially women and children. Dr. Amare attended Justus-Liebig University in Germany where he received a Ph.D in Agricultural Economics and Environmental Sciences. Through his roles with various institutions, including as a UNHCR Consultant and Environmental Officer, he has provided technical support in environmental assessment, planning, monitoring and evaluation of environmental programmes, including programming. He has played a steering role in promoting sustainable energy and integrating environment into the humanitarian settings.
Dr. Charlotte Germain-Aubrey is currently a AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the Millenium Challenge Corporation, with previous experience at the US Agency for International Development, working with Dr. Erika Clesceri on Environment and Climate Change advising. She is bringing 10 years of experience in scientific research, climate change impact modeling and conservation. She is a specialist of the impact of populations and climate change on the natural world. While at USAID, Charlotte has worked on the impact of development activities on the sustainability of Ramsar sites, as well as on inter-sector conflicts in the population. Charlotte has been working on building a network of key environmental NGOs and institutions in the USA to rally around this initiative. Dr. Germain-Aubrey has a B.Sc. in Ecology from the University of Edinburgh, a M.Sc. in Biodiversity and Plant Taxonomy from the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, with her thesis work on sustainable logging of mahogany in Belize, and a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Florida, with her dissertation work on conservation genetics of endangered plants. She has 4 years of experience leading international research managing natural history collection digitized data and developing methods to measure the impact of climate change on ecosystems in North America.
Leif Jönsson is Senior Environmental Advisor at MSB Since 2006 Leif has worked with programming with a focus on preparedness and response to environmental emergencies at the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB), linking up with Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation. Leif holds a B.Sc. in Environment and Public Health at Umeå University. After 10 years working on environment in Swedish municipalities, Leif went into the private sector and was for more than 15 years a consultant on various development cooperation projects in Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe. His focus has been on environmental management systems in industry, solid waste management and sector plans for environment and natural resource management at the local and regional level. Leif has also worked as Programme Manager coordinating MSB’s work with Disaster Risk Reduction and Early Recovery. He is the MSB focal point for the Joint Environment Unit at OCHA in Geneva and is also a member, and present chair, of the Steering Committee for the Advisory Group on Environmental Emergencies. Leif has been responsible for the implementation of MSB’s support project to SAGEE and JEU, aiming to strengthen National Disaster Risk Management in low- and middle-income countries and improve preparedness for environmental emergencies. Leif has been deployed several times by MSB to support JEU in their response to Disaster Waste Management and for Rapid Environmental Assessments in Pakistan and Myanmar. Leif is part of UNDAC team Europe and has been on mission to Namibia and Sierra Leone.
Tomas Declercq works at the OCHA/UN Environment Join Unit (JEU) as a Programme Officer. He supports the integration of environmental considerations in humanitarian response in order to enable for adaptation and resilience building, enhance efficiency and improve the quality of humanitarian action. From 2014 until early 2017, Tomas worked with UN Environment on ecosystem service assessments. Previously at UNDP Peru, he provided technical assistance to the Peruvian government on environmental issues (2012-2014). From 2010-2012, he worked as an Agriculture Policy Advisor for the Belgian EU Presidency. He also held short-term assignments for UNITAR, FAO Ecuador and the ITC-ILO. Tomas is fluent in Spanish and French.