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Maria Damanaki

The Nature Conservancy


Maria Damanaki was born on the Greek island of Crete (31 May, 1952). Maria graduated with honors from the National Technical University of Athens with a Master of Science in chemical engineering. She has also a one-year Degree from Lancaster University on Gender issues. Maria Damanaki has authored four books on European issues, human rights, education and women’s rights.

Political Career

• Active in the underground student opposition to the dictatorship in Greece (1970-1974).

• Member of Parliament, elected continuously for the years 1977 – 1993, 2000 –2009. Also, first woman ever to be elected Vice-president of the Greek Parliament

• President of the Coalition of Left and Progress (1991-1993). First woman ever to lead a Greek political party.

Professional Career

• Working as engineer at Pechiney Aluminum Industries (1974).

• Administrator at Ministry of Finance of Greece. Department of import-export planning. (1975-1976).

• Section manager at Helector S.A. Department of energy and waste management (2003-2004).

European Commission

• 2010–2014: With over 30 years of public service in Europe, Damanaki recently served as European Union Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

• Under her leadership, the Commission was able to bring fish populations back to healthier levels—from as few as five sustainable stocks in 2010 to up to 27 today.

• The continuation of her fisheries policy efforts could lead to 15 million more tons of fish in the sea, 30 percent more jobs and the equivalent of over $2 billion in additional revenue.

• She introduced and implemented the Blue Growth agenda for Seas and Oceans in Europe, which aimed to create 1.6 million new jobs and the equivalent of $750 billion in revenue by 2020 in sectors such as coastal tourism, ocean energy, and marine biotechnology. The Blue Growth was approved in unanimity by the European Council.

• She established legislation to create a common framework for Marine Spatial Planning to map and better manage maritime activities across EU countries.

The Nature Conservancy

• Maria Damanaki is the Global Managing Director for Oceans at The Nature Conservancy. She leads a global team focused on transforming how the world manages its oceans, including sustainable fisheries management, large-scale protection and restoration of coral reefs and other ecosystems.

Maria Damanaki chairs the UN Sustainability Committee for Blue Growth. She is a member of the Friends of Ocean Commission of the World Economic Forum.

She seats in the Board of Directors in Oxford Martin School Ocean Programme at the University of Oxford, Monaco Ocean Foundation, and Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS).