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A New WWF for the Green Heart of Europe

Posted on 07 May 2019

WWF-CEE succeeds the WWF International Danube-Carpathian Programme
Vienna, Austria, 07 May 2019 - The WWF International Danube-Carpathian Programme has been transformed into the WWF Central and Eastern Europe (WWF-CEE). The name change reflects the broader geographical scope of the organisation, extending beyond the Danube and Carpathian ecoregions.
The regional organisation includes legal entities in five countries (WWF-Romania, WWF-Hungary, WWF-Bulgaria, WWF-Slovakia and WWF Ukraine) as well as an Austrian-registered association serving as secretariat.
WWF-CEE will manage WWF engagement via consultancies and partner organisations in Moldova and the Czech Republic as well as provide overall leadership and coordination for WWF’s engagement in the Danube and Carpathian ecoregions. The organisation will continue to provide important input for the EU Strategy for the Danube Region, International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River, and the Convention for the Protection and Sustainable Development of the Carpathian Mountains (Carpathian Convention).  
The change in name reflects a deeper transformation of the organisation. As of April 2019, governance of the organisation transferred from WWF International to a Board of Directors drawn from and involved with the region. The first board meeting on April 5 in Bratislava elected Sasha Bezuhanova as Chairperson. A native Bulgarian, executive, angel investor and philanthropist, Ms. Bezuhanova left a 20-year executive career at Hewlett-Packard to devote herself to supporting social prosperity through innovation, education and collaboration by means of such organisations and initiatives as MOVE.BG,  EDIT.BG, the Bulgarian Centre of Women in Technology, and The ChangeMakers. She is a member of Governing Board of European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). Jean-Paul Paddack, Executive Director of Network Development WWF International, is serving as Vice Chair.
Other members of the board include:
Dr Ladislav Miko, former Czech Minister of Environment, who is currently the Head of the European Commission’s Representation in Slovakia and has had a number of senior positions in the European Commission;
Mihai Stanescu, a Romanian psychologist and anthropologist, and founder and CEO of RoCoach, he provides executive coaching and consultation to business and other leaders across Central and Eastern Europe;
Katalin Szomolányi, is the head of Corporate Sustainability Centre at Hungarian telecoms company Magyar Telekom, and founded the Planet Fanatics’ Network ten years ago in order to leverage international experts to realise sustainability projects;
Jürgen Schmidt, a Board Member of WWF-Germany and the founder and majority owner of memo AG, a company that specialises in eco-products for businesses, is now a “Sustainable Business Angel” and partner at the Terra Institute;
Andrea Johanides, a finance specialist and Chairperson of the WWF-CEE Finance Committee, has served as CEO of WWF-Austria since 2013; and
Antoine Lebrun, CEO of WWF-Belgium since May 2015, has a strong background in communications, marketing and operations.  
WWF International will continue to have a controlling interest in WWF-CEE for the next year, after which the organisation is expected to become the first multi-country, self-governing organisation that is a full member of the WWF Network.
WWF-CEE currently employs approximately 160 staff working across ten offices in seven countries  who cooperate with colleagues from WWF partner offices such as WWF-Austria, -Germany, -Belgium, -Netherlands, -Sweden, -Poland, -Adria and the WWF-European Policy Office.
“The transformation into WWF-CEE will help us increase our effectiveness as a change agent for addressing the existential challenges facing humankind in and from our region,“ said Andreas Beckmann, regional CEO. “In the next years, we plan to substantially increase our engagement with citizens, consumers and activists in order to secure many of Europe’s greatest remaining areas of virgin and old growth forests; conserve and restore valuable wetland areas such as the Danube Delta and Mura-Drava-Danube corridor; and preserve Europe’s greatest remaining populations of sturgeon and large carnivores,“ he continued.  

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