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Melissa de Kock joins UNEP-WCMC as Deputy Director from UNEP’s Biodiversity, People and Landscapes Unit

Hawk flying away from a tree

Melissa de Kock has been appointed as the new Deputy Director of the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC). Melissa joins from UNEP in Nairobi, Kenya, where she was Head of the Biodiversity, People and Landscapes Unit.

Melissa has 20 years’ experience working in conservation and environmental management. Before UNEP, she worked with WWF, South Africa’s Peace Parks Foundation and environmental consultancies. Melissa’s career has included working on climate change, biodiversity conservation, nature-based solutions, and natural resources management with governments, non-governmental organisations, Indigenous Peoples and local communities; programme and strategy development; and national and global policy interventions. Her early career experience was in media and communications. 

Melissa de Kock

In her previous role at UNEP Melissa led a team working on projects related to the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of biodiversity, climate-smart conservation, the wild biodiversity economy, and nature for health, as well as engaging with multilateral environmental agreements. Melissa also co-led UNEP’s implementation of the UN Environment Assembly Resolution on “Nature-based Solutions for sustainable development”, including facilitating the global consultations on nature-based solutions (NbS) that concluded in October 2023.

She holds an MSc in Environmental Management and an MPhil in Community and Development.

As Deputy Director of UNEP’s specialist Centre on biodiversity, Melissa will support UNEP-WCMC’s Director with strategic leadership across programmatic and policy issues, and play a crucial role in partnership development within and beyond the UN system. Her responsibilities include providing programmatic oversight to key areas of UNEP-WCMC’s work; development of and liaison with partnerships and constituencies; strengthening UNEP-WCMC’s country and regional engagement and ensuring close collaboration with colleagues across UNEP and the wider UN system.

Melissa replaces Corli Pretorius, who left UNEP-WCMC in September 2023 to take up the position of Head of the Policy, Knowledge and Partnerships Team in the Crisis Bureau at the UN Development Programme in New York. Corli was Deputy Director for seven years and under her leadership UNEP-WCMC strengthened its engagement with UN system entities, championed the links between human rights and the environment, and integrated gender equality and the empowerment of women into environmental policy development.

The Centre wishes to thank Corli for her contribution and is delighted to welcome Melissa de Kock to UNEP-WCMC.

I am very excited to join UNEP-WCMC and its exceptional team of scientists and experts. I look forward to working with everyone at the Centre to support UNEP’s mission, and to help further develop and implement innovative approaches to addressing biodiversity loss and climate change.

Melissa de Kock, Deputy Director of UNEP-WCMC

It is a great pleasure to welcome Melissa de Kock as the Deputy Director of UNEP-WCMC. With her extensive experience and background including her key work on nature-based solutions at UNEP, Melissa brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the position of Deputy Director. Her appointment provides continued opportunities for strong collaboration across UNEP and additional leadership capacity to UNEP-WCMC as we move ahead to support partners in the public and private sector to deliver on their commitments for climate and nature.

Neville Ash, Director of UNEP-WCMC

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