Former Director General, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN); Edward P Bass Distinguished Visiting Environmental Scholar, Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies; Chair of Biodiversity International Italy
Julia Marton-Lefèvre is an independent adviser on sustainability. She has had an impressive international career which began as a teacher at a Thai university as a part of the Peace Corps of the United States. Her next move after university studies was to work for the United Nations on an environmental education program hosted by two UN bodies, UNEP and UNESCO.
After her four years at the United Nations, Julia was invited to join the staff of the International Council of Scientific Unions, ICSU (now International Science Council) whose headquarters are in Paris. She began as Deputy and then propmoted to the position of Executive Director of this large scientific NGO. She was then invited by The Rockefeller Foundation to become Executive Director of one of the Foundation’s most ambitious programmes: Leadership for Environment and Development with its international headquarters in New York and then at Imperial College, London. Headhunted again, Julia became Rector of the UN-affiliated University of Peace, located in Costa Rica, and from there she moved to Switzerland to become the Director General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The IUCN is viewed by many as being one of the most complex international organizations in existence today. When she stepped down from this position, having stayed much longer than her many male predecessors, she decided not to seek another management position but rather to use her extensive experience to help organizations as an effective Board member and/or Board Chair. Thus, Julia’s enormous network and experience developed throughout her career continues by serving on the boards of NGOs, foundations, universities & corporations.
She is currently the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, two organizations addressing the important area of iagricultural/food systems whose merger in 2019 she led successfully. She also chairs the Executive Committee of the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, the world’s oldest prize in this field and often referred to as the Nobel Prize in the field of environment. She is the Chair of the Donor Council of the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, and the Strategic Advisory Council of the French thinktank, IDDRI (International Instute for Sustainable Development).
Julia is an elected Councillors of the World Future Council. In 2019 the government members of IPBES (the Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) elected Julia as a member of the IPBES Bureau. IPBES is similar to the science policy mechanism on climate change, IPCC.
In 2022 she was asked to chair the newly established Villars Institute Foundation devoted to intergenerational and transdisciplinary dialogues on how to reach Net Zero.
Julia was the recipient of the AAAS Award for International Cooperation in Science, and has been honoured as a Chevalier and then Officier of the Ordre de Saint Charles by HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco and Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur and an Officier de l’Ordre National de Mérite by the government of France. She also received the ProNatura Award from the government of Hungary, the Presidential citation from the Republic of Korean, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Global Council for Science and the Environment.
Julia was born in Hungary, educated in the United States and in France, and having lived in several continents, considers herself a global citizen.