Maria Damanaki was born on the Greek island of Crete on 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.
- 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.
- 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 $750 billion in revenue by 2020 in sectors such as coastal tourism, ocean energy, and marine biotechnology. The Blue Growth was approved in unanimity by the European Council.
- She established legislation to create a common framework for Marine Spatial Planning to map and better manage maritime activities across EU countries.
The Nature Conservancy (2014-2020)
Maria Damanaki served as the Global Managing Director for Oceans at The Nature Conservancy.
- She ran marine programs in 27 countries, across all continents, leading a global team of 50 and a global network of more than 600 people focused on transforming how the world manages its oceans; including sustainable fisheries and aquaculture management and transparency for the seafood supply chain; large-scale protection and restoration of coral reefs, mangroves and other ecosystems; climate change and blue carbon.
- The marine TNC program of Blue Bonds and Debt for Conservation Swaps won the 2019 Ted-x prize for ideas that can change the world. (Accompanied by 27 mil$ financing).
Maria Damanaki co-chairs the UN Sustainability Committee for Blue Growth and she co-chairs the advisory network of the High-Level Panel for Oceans created by the Norwegian Prime Minister and 13 PMs around the world. She is a member of the Friends of Ocean Commission of the World Economic Forum. She sits on the Board of Directors in Oxford Martin School Ocean Program, University of Oxford, the Boards of Monaco Ocean Foundation and Oceanographic Institute, the board of European Marine Regions Forum and the Board of Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).
Follow Maria Damanaki on Twitter @Damanaki.