GEO Secretariat strengthens senior team

Blog / July 9, 2021

The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Secretariat, Geneva, is pleased to announce that three new professionals from the global Earth observations community have joined the team.

The GEO Secretariat has a new director. Yana Gevorgyan has taken office on 1 July 2021. Ms. Gevorgyan is an international relations expert whose career spans humanitarian relief and development, international think tanks, and government organizations.  Previously, she was the GEO Program Manager at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service (NESDIS). Ms. Gevorgyan has represented the United States at GEO in many capacities over the past twelve years. Her passion and dedication to GEO and its core principles have manifested in her thought leadership, spearheading policy and organizational change to meet GEO’s strategic objectives. Yana’s vision for advancing GEO is through the strengthening of GEO’s core membership participation in the organization’s mission, the connections with GEO’s regional structures and multisectoral partnerships.

In addition to the appointment of the new Director, Laurent Durieux was seconded from IRD in France on 1 May 2021 and is the coordinator for GEO 's work on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Rui Kotani joined on 1 June on secondment from MEXT in Japan and is the coordinator for GEO’s work on Disaster Risk Reduction.

Laurent has been working on remote sensing and geospatial data in the context of SDGs implementation. He has developed new methodologies in the field of Geographic-Based Image Analysis (GEOBIA) using image segmentation and knowledge representation in ontologies to process satellite images. Since 2007, he has been working at IRD on sustainable development observatories based on direct satellite receiving stations together with remote sensing centres through the SEAS program (Monitoring of the Environment Assisted by Satellite). He also worked 2 years for the French Embassy in Brazil as a scientific expert for COP21. Laurent is a board member and head of the scientific committee of the NGO WeForest, which works to restore the world's forest landscapes based on transdisciplinary sustainable science.

Rui is a policy specialist for international cooperation in science, technology and innovation (STI). Throughout her career, she has worked on the design and implementation of STI policies on global issues, such as climate change and disaster risk reduction, in the context of international cooperation and development aid. In addition to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), she has worked for various Japanese government entities, including Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the Cabinet Office of Japan, and Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST). Until September 2020, Rui spent two years at the World Bank where she worked closely with DESA, UNESCO, UNCTAD, OECD and JRC of EC to support the UN member states in harnessing STI to achieve the SDGs.

Regarding these new appointments, Ms. Gevorgyan commented:

“The GEO Secretariat is the think tank that works closely with the GEO Programme Board, the GEO Executive Committee and the GEO community continuously to ensure that GEO is delivering on its mission and vision. This is an exciting time for us to build on the achievements of the last 15 years and accelerate the support to countries around the world.

The stakes have never been higher, and international collaboration has never been more important in providing timely environmental intelligence to decision makers. I look forward to working with the talented GEO Secretariat team to serve our members’ needs, and position GEO for a successful renewal of our mandate by Ministers in 2025. This will enable us to continue to work together to harness the benefits of Earth observations to build a sustainable future for communities around the world.”

For more information on these appointments or other GEO news, please contact:
Steven Ramage, Head of External Relations, GEO Secretariat - sramage@geosec.org



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