Grethel Aguilar is the Director General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), effective from 20 October 2023.
Before serving as IUCN Acting Director General, Dr Aguilar held the position of Deputy Director General – Regions and Outposted Offices, starting in 2021. Prior to this, she was IUCN Acting Director General (2019-20), and Regional Director for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, a role she took on in 2005.
She has more than 30 years of experience in conservation and sustainable development, having worked extensively on developing and applying environmental law and policy in collaboration with governments and civil society. In particular, she is deeply passionate about the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities.
Through her work in field projects, Grethel helped communities access clean water, advocated for environmental justice, assisted indigenous peoples in obtaining rights to their natural resources, and championed gender equality in environmental governance.
Most recently, Grethel held the position of IUCN Regional Director for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. In addition, she provided support to the IUCN’s Regional Office in South America. Prior to joining IUCN, Grethel was a member of the Costa Rican Environmental Law Center and worked as a consultant for organizations such as the Central American Commission for Environment and Development, the United Nations Environment Programme and various governments.
A Costa Rican national, Grethel has authored multiple publications in the fields of environmental law and policy. She also served as the 2018 Dorothy S. McCluskey Visiting Fellow in Conservation at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. In 2001, she received the title of Doctor of Law Outstanding cum laude from the University of Alicante, Spain.