María Fernanda Espinosa, Minister of National Defence, Republic of Ecuador
Prior to her appointment, Ms. Espinosa served as the Minister of Natural and Cultural Heritage from October 2009 to November 2012, Special Adviser to the President of the Constitutional Assembly from December 2007 to February 2008 and as the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Commerce and Integration from January to December 2007. She was Regional Coordinator of the South American Office of the World Conservation Union’s (IUCN) Programme on Social Equity and Conservation between January and October 2005 and served 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 over the years as an Adviser for several projects, including the Government Environmental Plan (1992) and the “Environmental Care and Children’s Participation” project (Central Bank of Ecuador and UNICEF, 1993-1994). Ms. 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. Espinosa holds a Doctor of Philosophy 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.