About Me

Esta soy yoHi!!!!!  It is so nice to meet you and share with you my journey…

I am Lorena, a 1.52m- (5’-) tall woman anthropologist from Costa Rica.  Costa Rica is a tiny little country in Central America.  We are very few “Costa Ricans” (or tic@s as they call us) – there are only 4.5 million of us.

My country is a small paradise.  We have tried very hard to protect our environment.  For example, 25% of our nation is a protected area.  (Protected areas are locations that receive protection because of their recognized natural, ecological and/or cultural values. There are several kinds of protected areas, which vary by level of protection depending on the laws and regulations of each country. As of October 2010, there are over 161,000 protected areas in the world, with more added daily, representing between 10 and 15% of the world’s land surface area).

We tic@s are considered one of the jolliest people around the globe.  Actually, Costa Rica has been recognized as the happiest country in the world according to the Happy Planet Index (HPI). The HPI is an index of human well-being and environmental impact that was introduced by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) in July 2006.

The phrase that characterizes us the best is our “Pura Vida”.  This is probably the most commonly used phrase in my country.  It literally means “Pure life”, but the saying goes beyond its simple translation: it’s a way of life.  It embodies the idea of simply enjoying life and being happy.  They are many reasons for this, however a couple of interesting data from my country can enlighten our happiness:  first, since medicine is socialized, everyone in the country has access to the best medical services, and second, we do not have an army. A popular graffiti tag expresses this feeling:  “Happy is the Costa Rican mother who, when giving birth to a son, knows that he will never be a soldier.”

I am a mother of three incredible kids: Andrea, a 34-year-old botanist, who has committed her life to make sure that there is a world for the future generations and is a fighter for women’s rights; Laura,25, who is pursuing a career in arts and has this capacity to visualize and showcase through her designs the best part of humanity; and Sergio, 23, a computer animator (my little one, as I call him) is one of those computer masters. I truly believe that he is part of this new generation that was born with a “chip” in his head for technology.

I have been married (for 28 years) to a sweet and loving man, Eric, who is the Dean of Fine Arts at the University of Costa Rica.  It has not been easy to be married to a wife who travels eight months out of the year.  However he has never complained – and he still picks me up, every time I come back from a trip, with flowers at the airport.

On a Valentine’s Day some years ago, while I was on mission in Kenya, he found the way to sent me Goethe’s poem, “Gingo Biloba”, and a dozen roses!!!

He shared Goethe’s feelings:  “the leaf meant the unity of what is moving apart, the double within the one, which was a symbolic representation of his relation to Marianne von Willemer. He was in love with her, but lived apart from her, because she was married”.

This tree’s leaf, which here the East 
In my garden propagates,
On its secret sense we feast
Such as sages elevates.
Is it but one being single
Which as same itself divides?
Are there two which choose to mingle
So that one each other hides?
 As the answer to such question
I have found a sense that’s true:
Is it not my songs’ suggestion
That I’m one and also two? (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1815).

I have the gift of friends and an extended family, which always has been there for me.   In addition to my husband and kids, my family consists of mother, father, in-laws, two brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, all living nearby.  In the past years we have had a couple of new additions, like boy/girlfriends and lovers.

For those of you part of an extended family, you know the drill. If you have a problem you will have hundreds of hands to hold you.  However, it is also true, when you cause trouble, you will also get some thousand reprimands and opinions on what you should do!!!!

I was also blessed with grandpas and grandmas who were and are my roots.  My grandmother, Nelly, a Spanish descendant immigrant, ensured through her life that I became a strong and empowered woman.  Through her life she made sure that I knew that my limits were only those that I established.  That I should “Aim for the stars. Even if I missed, I will still hit the moon and get my feet of the ground.”

That I needed to heal fast from my sorrows and keep on going and growing.  To her I owe my adventures sprit.  To her I owe one of the most important things that has guided my life: giving to others is the path for a complete and fruitful life….  Giving is far better than receiving.

If you want to know more about my professional life the next lines will explain better who I am (please notice that the following paragraphs are very business-like).

I am the Global Senior Gender Advisor for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with more than twenty-five years of experience in projects and initiatives involving public policy development, building local institutions and the incorporation of social and gender issues into development.

I established and consolidated the IUCN Global Gender Office, which is the preferred partner for international governments and non-governmental organizations seeking to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment for achieving biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. I created and/or have been part of some of the most influential international gender networks; e.g. the Network of Women Ministers and Leaders of the Environment and the Global Gender and Climate Alliance.

I have developed strategies for mainstreaming gender in leading organizations, including United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). Supporting governments to develop gender policies and to create organizational capacity in the area of gender equality and women’s empowerment, I have also authored over seventy publications, including thirty books, on gender, development, disaster risk, water, health and environment. I have enjoyed opportunities to be keynote speaker at several international conferences, congresses and high-level events throughout the world.