Juan Manuel Garcia-CDF

Yolanda Kakabadse appointed President of the Board of the Charles Darwin Foundation

03 Oct 22 /
The Board of Directors of the Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands (“CDF”) is delighted to announce that it has elected Yolanda Kakabadse as its new President, with immediate effect. Her appointment coincides with the opening of CDF’s 51st Annual General Assembly, which begins this morning in Quito, Ecuador, and is being hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility.
Yolanda Kakabadse nueva presidenta de la Fundación Charles Darwin Foundation
Yolanda Kakabadse new president of the Charles Darwin Foundation

“The climate crisis is urgent and real, and it is our duty, more than ever, as human beings to protect and preserve such unique and pristine ecosystems as the Galapagos archipelago,” said Yolanda Kakabadse, President of the Charles Darwin Foundation. “For over 60 years, the Charles Darwin Foundation has been working to better understand the Galapagos’ unique environment and biosphere so we can protect it more efficiently. This work has been and will continue to be key for the conservation movement and above all for our planet, our home. I look forward to working with our Board members, the Executive Director and his team as well as our strategic partners and the people of Galapagos to advance our work further for the benefit of people and planet.”

In his opening remarks, Juan Carlos Holguin, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility, noted: “The Charles Darwin Foundation has been a valued ally to the Ecuadorian government for more than 60 years in its preservation efforts in the Galapagos and we are pleased to see Yolanda as its new President. Galapagos is of strategic importance, both environmentally and geopolitically, which is why collaboration between nations in the region is so important to further protect our environment and our people.”

Yolanda joined the Board of CDF in April 2022. Since joining the Board, Yolanda has visited the Charles Darwin Research Station numerous times and has invested time to get to know CDF’s members, staff and partners, making the transition into her new role as President seamless.

“Yolanda is a passionate leader and internationally renowned conservationist, and we’re honored to have her lead the Board as we continue to drive our conservation efforts forward in the Galapagos islands and within the Eastern Tropical Pacific region,” said Dr. Rakan Zahawi, Executive Director of the Charles Darwin Foundation

Yolanda replaces Hans van Poelvoorde who will step down from the Board with immediate effect. Hans joined the Board of CDF in 2014 and became its President in 2018. He will continue in his capacity as member of the General Assembly and member of the Board of Friends of the Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galápagos Islands, a US 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 2021 to make it easier for U.S. citizens and foundations to directly support CDF’s important local conservation research and activities.

Members of the CDF Board of Directors with its new president, Yolanda Kakabadse. Photo: Rashid Cruz, CDF.

“It has been a pleasure to work with the foundation’s dynamic team and serve such an important cause. I´ve seen Yolanda in action these past months and her contributions have been incredibly valuable. She is thoughtful, brave and deeply passionate about what she does and I know she is the right person to take the foundation to the next level,” said Hans van Poelvoorde.

“On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Hans for his leadership and excellent collaboration over the years. Hans came in at a critical time for the future of CDF and his work to strengthen the foundation has been essential as we embark on our future with Yolanda at the head,” added Dr. Zahawi.

Yolanda Kakabadse is a veteran of the environmental movement in Ecuador and internationally. Her work in environmental conservation began in 1979, when she became the first Executive Director of Fundación Natura in Quito, a position she held until 1990. From 1990 to 1992 she coordinated the participation of civil society organizations for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Earth Summit). She then went on to create the Fundación Futuro Latinoamericano in 1993, which promotes the sustainable development of Latin America through conflict prevention and management. She served as the Executive President until 2006 and remains as Chair of the Advisory Board.

Yolanda was appointed Minister of Environment for the Republic of Ecuador in 1998, a position she held until January 2000. She is the former President of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a position which she held from 1996 to 2004. She chaired the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel to the Global Environment Facility from 2005-2008. From 2010 until 2018 she was President of WWF International and remains a Trustee to date. Besides her role on the Board of CDF, Yolanda is also a member of the Board of Directors of several non-governmental and private sector organizations, inside and outside the country.

2021 Impact report

The Charles Darwin Foundation this morning also published its Impact Report for the year 2021 which will be presented at the Annual General Meeting. The Annual Report highlights some of the CDF’s key advances on specific projects throughout 2021. We invite you to discover our report’s new format which is a slight departure from what we have previously called our Annual Report.


For media, please contact:

Charles Darwin Foundation
Ambre Tanty-Lamothe, Director of Marketing and Communications
ambre.tanty@fcdarwin.org.ec| +593 96 787 1557

Isabel Grijalva, Communication Coordinator
isabel.grijalva@fcdarwin.org.ec| +593 98 440 0328

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility
Carla Martínez, Communications Director
+593 99 923 7500 | cdmartinez@cancilleria.gob.ec

About the Charles Darwin Foundation and its Research Station
Since 1959, the Charles Darwin Foundation has worked in close partnership with the Galapagos National Park Directorate to protect the Islands’ natural resources and share scientific results for the conservation of this living laboratory. More than one hundred scientists, educators, researchers, support personnel and volunteers from all over the world have participated in this effort. Currently, more than 75% of the staff are Ecuadorian citizens. The Charles Darwin Foundation is committed to the professional development of permanent Galapagos residents as future scientists, for the well-being of the islands and the nation in general.

Andres Cruz

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