María Fernanda Espinosa

UNESCO Chair in Technologies for Development: From Innovation to Social Impact
2-4 May 2016 | SwissTech Convention Centre | EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland


María Fernanda Espinosa
Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the United Nations in Geneva; Former Minister of National Defense

Dr. María Fernanda Espinosa, was recently appointed Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the UN in Geneva. She served as a Minister of National Defense for the Republic of Ecuador from November 2012 to September 2014. Ms. Espinosa also served as the Minister of Natural and Cultural Heritage from October 2009 to November 2012, Special Adviser to the President of the Constitutional Assembly, and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Commerce and Integration in 2007. 

From 2008 to 2009 she was a Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the UN in New York. She was Regional Director of the South American Office of the World Conservation Union’s (IUCN) in 2005 and 2006, served as the Social Equity and Conservation Officer and as an Adviser on Indigenous Peoples and Biodiversity Policy to IUCN from August 2000 to October 2005. Having started her career in 1989 as a Planning and Management Technical Officer for the Amazon Protected Areas Project, Fundacion Natura in Quito, Espinosa has served as an Adviser for several projects over the years, including the Government Environmental Plan (1992) and the “Environmental Care and Children’s Participation” project (Central Bank of Ecuador and UNICEF, 1993-1994). 

Dr. Espinosa has also been Coordinator of the project “Political Dialogues for Sustainable Development in Latin America”, served as Environmental Adviser for UNICEF on environmental and girls’ education in Niger and worked as Liaison Officer on forest-related indigenous knowledge and intellectual property rights at the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests at the United Nations. Since 1994, she has taught courses at the Latin American Faculty for Social Sciences (FLASCO) in Ecuador and Cuba, the Institute for Political Ecology in Chile, the Third World Institute for Ecological Studies, as well as Duke University, Syracuse University and the University of North Carolina. 

She is a PhD candidate in environmental geography from Rutgers University in the United States, where she was also a post-doctoral Fellow in 1996-1997. She also holds a master’s degree in interdisciplinary social sciences and a post-graduate degree in anthropology and political sciences from FLASCO and a Bachelor of Arts in applied linguistics from the Catholic University of Ecuador, Quito. Espinosa has published more than 30 articles and co-authored five books.