The Secretariat acts as the central coordination and facilitation office of the GRASP partnership. Together with the partners, it implements the partnership’s programme of work approved by the Council and reports back to the Executive Committee on a regular basis.

The key tasks include:

  • Facilitation and monitoring of GRASP projects implemented by field-based partners;
  • Management of the Secretariat-implemented projects;
  • Regular communication within the partnership on the latest news and developments;
  • Coordination of fundraising;
  • Organization and reporting of regular meetings, such as the Executive Committee and Council meetings;

The Secretariat is hosted by the UN Environment and UNESCO and is physically hosted by UN Environment headquarters in Nairobi.

The UN Environment is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system, and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in addition to supporting quality education and freedom of expression, promotes cultural and natural heritage and equal dignity of all cultures. It also fosters scientific programs and policies as platforms for development and cooperation.

The core team of the Secretariat currently consists of the GRASP Coordinator (Officer in Charge) and Project Manager, the Associate Program Officer, and the Project Assistant, as well as short-term interns providing valuable periodic contributions to current activities.


GRASP Programme Manager and GRASP Coordinator (Officer-In-Charge)

Johannes leads the secretariat for the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP). Johannes has a Diploma degree in animal ecology and has held scientific positions in Germany, Switzerland and the United States. He was co-director of the Tai Monkey Project in Cote d’Ivoire, and the results of his PhD work in 2001 resulted in a Research Conservation Award from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques. Johannes relocated to East Africa in 2005, and worked as a programme manager for the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP), before joining GRASP in 2006. He is a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Primate Specialist Group and the IUCN Transboundary Conservation Specialist Group. He has a wide experience in natural resource management (NRM) and assisted GTZ (German Technical Cooperation), IGCP, WWF and UN Environment in designing, supervising and implementing NRM projects. Johannes is a Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) at the University of Queensland, Australia. Johannes has visited many great ape range states in Africa and Asia, and the GRASP great apes photo exhibition “Their Fate is Ours: the Humanity of Great Apes” features his pictures and tours around African great ape range states and European donor countries.


Associate Programme Officer

Pauliina joined the GRASP Secretariat in early 2017. She holds a Master’s Degree in Environmental Economics from the University of Helsinki and has over 10 years of experience working with sustainable development topics at public and private sectors, concentrating on environmental and natural resources management. Pauliina’s prior experience with the UN Environment includes working on green economy and environmental peacebuilding, focusing mainly on the extractives sector. Earlier, with the UN Peacekeeping Mission, she was monitoring the natural resource governance in Liberia. She has also worked with consulting companies in Finland, the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and a Zambian NGO promoting agroforestry. Pauliina is particularly interested in the challenge of accommodating the different and often conflicting land-use needs of resource extraction, local livelihoods and wildlife. While supporting the GRASP Secretariat functions and project management, she’s also expanding her expertise in wildlife conservation through part-time studies.


Project Assistant

Milena joined the GRASP Secretariat as a youth UN Volunteer in October 2017. She contributes to the management of the partnership, offers programmatic support for the implementation of projects and is also GRASP’s communication focal point. Among others, Milena has professional experience within the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where she worked for the preparation of the UNFCCC COP21. She holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Policy from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po Paris), with specializations in multilateral governance and international relations. She has developed a keen interest in GRASP’s holistic approach, bringing different disciplines and stakeholders together to tackle the complex global environmental challenges faced by great apes today. Milena speaks French, German, English and Russian, and is trying to learn Kiswahili.



Amelia from Australia graduated with a dual degree of Arts and Science from the University of Queensland and later specialized in Ecological Economics (Hons) with a focus on environmental valuation from economic and philosophical perspectives. She is passionate about helping to re-foster sustainable relationships between human communities and the ecological systems we depend upon. Amelia enjoys working as an intern with GRASP because of she finds great apes fascinating and their habitats are situated in some of the most bio-physically unique and stunning landscapes on earth.



Tess’s passion for primate conservation was realized while studying brown-headed spider monkeys in Ecuador during her undergraduate degree in BSc Ecology at the University of Sussex, England. Her project, which developed a novel surveying methodology, earned her The Wiley Blackwell Award for Ecology and Conservation. Tess was delighted to be welcomed as an intern into the GRASP secretariat in March 2018 as she feels that at a time of such environmental uncertainty, there has never been a greater need for contributing to positive change.



Vinita from Malaysia, graduated with a BSc (Hons) in environmental geoscience from the University of Edinburgh. Having grown up in a society normalized with issues surrounding uncontrolled palm oil expansion and loss of orangutan habitats, being accepted as an intern at GRASP is nothing short of a calling. Her fascination of and dedication to the environment, wildlife and marginalized communities started at a young age, unbeknownst to her that one day this would culminate into, hopefully, a lifelong pursuit.