John E. Scanlon AM, Secretary-General (2010 - 2018)

John E. Scanlon, Secretary-General (2010 - 2018)

John E. Scanlon (2010 - 2018)

Willem Wijnstekers (1999-2010)
Izgrev Topkov (1991-1998)
Eugene Lapointe (1982-1990)
Peter Sand (1978-1981)

John Scanlon has had a unique range of experience with environment and sustainable development policy, law, institutions and governance at the international, national, sub-national and local level.

His work experience has been gained in the private sector, in government, with the United Nations and with international organizations, as a leader, manager, professional adviser and legal practitioner, as well as through senior voluntary positions with the non government sector.

John joined the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) as Secretary-General in May, 2010.

His previous international appointments include:

  • Principal Advisor to the Executive Director of UNEP (Nairobi, Kenya) and Team Leader, Strategic Implementation Team;
  • Strategic Advisor, the World Commission on Dams (Cape Town, South Africa);
  • Head, IUCN Environmental Law Programme and Director, IUCN Environmental Law Centre (Bonn, Germany),
  • Legal advisor on projects in Botswana, Guyana, the Russian Federation, and Viet Nam.

His Australian appointments include:

  • Chief Executive, Department of Environment, Heritage and Aboriginal Affairs (Adelaide, Australia) and Commissioner, Murray-Darling Basin Commission;
  • Deputy Director General, Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources (Sydney, Australia);
  • Chief of Staff, Minister for Environment and Natural Resources (Adelaide, Australia) and Acting Policy Advisor, Australian Federal Minister for the Environment (Canberra, Australia);
  • Partner in Charge of Environmental Law, Ward and Partners, Lawyers (Adelaide, Australia).

John served as President of the National Environmental Law Association of Australia (SA Division) for three terms, was the founding chair of the Environmental Law Community Advisory Service (SA) in 1992 (now called the Environmental Defender's Office), and is a member of the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law (since 1995) and the World Commission on Protected Areas.

John was admitted to legal practice in 1984, holds a Bachelor of Laws (1983), Master of Laws (Environmental) (1995), and is an accredited mediator (1996).

John has been awarded: the Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for service to environmental law nationally and internationally (2011); the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) International Environmental Law Award (2013); the Baobab Award for Innovation (UNEP 2014); and the Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for distinguished service to wildlife conservation and protection through roles with international organisations (2018).  In 2015 John was made an Honorary ZSL Conservation Fellow (Zoological Society of London) and awarded the Doctor Honoris Causa by the Ilia State University, Georgia.

John has Australian and British nationalities.

See speeches made by John as the CITES Secretary-General.

See Global Leadership Dialogues Profile of John Scanlon