Executive committee

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The role of the Executive committee is to ensure the sound governance of the Friends of the Earth International federation. It is elected at the Biennial General Meeting (BGM), and includes a Chairperson and representatives from member groups.

Hemantha Withanage headshot

Hemantha Withanage

Chair

Hemantha Withanage was elected Chair of Friends of the Earth International in July 2021. A science graduate from the University of Kelaniya in Sri Lanka, Hemantha joined the environmental justice movement in 1990 as an environmental officer for the Environmental Foundation Ltd. In 2004, he co-founded the Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) - the most visible environmental organisation in Sri Lanka today. From 2005-2008, Hemantha was Executive Director of the Philippines based NGO Forum on ADB, a network of civil society organisations monitoring the Asian Development Bank - for which he has also been the elected International Convenor a number of times. Hemantha has held leadership positions in number of other regional and international networks and is a leading environmental activist in the Asia Pacific region. He served on our Executive Committee from 2010-2018, and is currently CEJ's Senior Advisor.

Anabela-Lemos

Anabela Lemos

Vice chair

Anabela Lemos has been an environmental justice activist for over 20 years. She was the founding member and Vice-Director of Livaningo, Mozambique’s first environmental organisation (founded in 1998). In 2004 she moved on to start JA!/Justiça Ambiental/Friends of the Earth Mozambique, and has been the Director of the Board ever since. In addition her responsibilities have included JA!’s strategic planning process, governance and fundraising, co-coordinating the Mphanda Nkuwa dam campaign as well as involvement in research, campaigns, and fieldwork. Anabela received the Mozambican National Environmental Prize in 2005. She is one of the founding members of Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, GAIA (an alliance between individuals, NGOs, community-based organisations, academics and other parties, working together to stop incineration globally). She is on the Advisory Board for the Southern Africa Global Greengrants Fund.

Bertrand-Sansonnens

Bertrand Sansonnens

Treasurer

Bertrand is senior international adviser at Pro Natura/Friends of the Earth Switzerland. He has been involved for more than 20 years in many issues and projects dealing with biodiversity conservation, sustainable use of natural resources and community management. He has a PhD from Lausanne (Switzerland) and Montpellier (France) and studied local agroforestry systems in Sri Lanka and Sumatra, Indonesia. Since he started working for Pro Natura, he has engaged in many capacity building activities together with Friends of the Earth member groups, mostly in Central and Eastern Europe, while maintaining a strong interest in and link to the Global South. He has been a member of the Friends of the Earth Europe Executive committee as well as a member of the Friends of the Earth International Forests & Biodiversity steering group.

Lucia-Ortiz

Lucia Ortiz

Lucia Ortiz joined Friends of the Earth Brazil in 2000 as a rebel geologist and environmental justice activist, committed to fighting coal power plants and mining in southern Brazil. Since then, she has joined the antiglobalisation movement, taken part in the World Social Forum and several international fora, and been in charge of local campaigns and national networks. She has acted as Regional coordinator for the Climate Justice and Energy programme in ATALC, and International coordinator of the Economic Justice and Resisting Neoliberalism programme for Friends of the Earth International. Nowadays, she is a mother, ecologist, feminist, anti-racist, antifascist movement builder, committed to system change and internationalist solidarity, and President of Friends of the Earth Brazil.

Emma Jayne

Emma Jayne Geraghty

Emma Jayne Geraghty is currently the Head of Movement Building with Friends of the Earth Ireland. She has been involved with Friends of the Earth for more than 10 years and has held multiple roles - including with Friends of the Earth Europe, Young Friends of the Earth Europe and has also been an activist, volunteer, staff member and board member of Friends of the Earth Ireland. She is passionate about creating the necessary conditions that center and support communities and young people that have been marginalised by systemic injustices and are facing the frontline impacts of climate change to play a central role in the just transition. She has led and implemented innovative projects for climate justice, youth education and empowerment, human rights and Traveller rights in Ireland, at an EU level and internationally. Her background is in Fine Arts, Community Development and she is most passionate about her role as a mum in leaving a sustainable and just planet behind.

Mae-Taqueban

Mai Taqueban

Mai Taqueban is the Executive Director of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC). Her work focuses on the recognition and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples and upland rural communities to land and environment. She started in LRC as a law intern, later as Research and Policy Development Adviser. Mai is Chair of the Alternative Law Groups and co-Convener of the Panaghiusa Philippine Network to Uphold Indigenous Peoples’ Rights. She has a PhD in Anthropology and teaches at the University of the Philippines Diliman. Mai also sits on the steering group for FoEI’s Economic Justice Resisting Neoliberalism programme and the Executive Committee of the Asia Pacific region.

Avena Jacklin

Avena Jacklin

Avena Jacklin is the operations director at groundWork (Friends of the Earth South Africa), working with five exciting campaigns, including climate and energy, waste, environmental health, coal and environmental justice education. She has vast experience in environmental governance and restoration, developing inclusive and transformative projects and exchanges that serve as a living example of a just transition that span from zero waste to food sovereignty and energy democracy. Avena has over 20 years’ experience in the agricultural sector, winning several farmer awards including the Mpumalanga Female Farmer Award, and the Land Rehabilitation of South Africa (LaRSSA)’s Peter Edward Award for best conservation farmer, primarily for her sustainability and conservation practices and work with rural communities. She established environmental consultancies, working extensively in environmental mine compliance and land rehabilitation.  And has also worked with regional and international environmental justice movements since the early 2000s including the African Climate Justice Convenors, Danish Society for Nature Conservation (DN), Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC), Earth Justice, Friends of the Earth International (FoEI), and over the past two years, was a steering group member of FoEI, and part of the Climate Justice and Energy Working group for the Africa region.

Theiva Lingam

Theiva Lingam

Theiva Lingam is one of the legal advisors to Sahabat Alam Malaysia - Friends of the Earth Malaysia and Consumers’ Association of Penang and a legal consultant to the Third World Network. She is a public interest lawyer and an environmental activist. Between 2016 and 2021, she took on the Regional Facilitator role for Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific and was one of the FoE Asia Pacific focal persons for the Internationalist Solidarity System until end of 2022.

Wanda Olivares Wanda Olivares

Wanda Olivares has been working for 15 years in the area of food sovereignty, community projects and research.  With an academic background in environmental planning and projection, she currently coordinates the Food Sovereignty programme in FoE Latin America and the Caribbean, and is a member of the Regional Executive Committee. She is president of Tierra Nativa (Friends of the Earth Argentina) and coordinates projects in communities and neighbourhoods in favour of economic justice, food sovereignty and popular feminism. She contributes to the struggles of popular environmentalism from a feminist and social justice perspective, for peoples' sovereignty and the internationalisation of anti-colonial struggles.