Tewlde-Berhan Gebre Egziabher was born in Adwa, a town in Tigray Region on 19 February 1940. He attended Negeste Saba (Queen of Sheba) Elementary School in Adwa from October 1951 to June 1955. Gebre Egziabher was accepted to General Wingate Secondary School in Addis Ababa and studied there from September 1955 to July 1959. He was then accepted to Addis Ababa (then Haile Selassie I) University, Addis Ababa where he studied from September 1959 to July 1963 and won the Chancellor’s gold medal for best graduate in the Faculty of Science. He studied at the School of Plant Biology, University of North Wales from October 1966–Nov. 1969 and was awarded a PhD under Prof. P. Greig Smith. Ph.D.
He worked in the Biology Department at Addis Ababa University from 1963, serving as a graduate assistant, assistant lecturer, and assistant professor. He was appointed dean of the Faculty of Science in 1974, and served in this capacity until 1978, when he was appointed associate professor of biology. In 1978 he also began working part time with the Ethiopian Science and Technology Commission as Leader of the IDRC-UNU sponsored research project “Research and Development in Rural Settings”. From 1980 to 1996, he was project leader of the Ethiopian Flora Project.
He was appointed president of Asmara University in 1983, and held this post until 1994. From March 1995 he has served as the General Manager of the Ethiopian Environmental Protection Authority.
During the 1990s Gebre Egziabher put much of his energy into negotiations at the various biodiversity-related fora, especially the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization. In this time he built up a strong group of well-prepared African negotiators who began to take the lead in the G77 and China Group. Africa came out with united, strong, progressive positions, such as no patents on living materials and the recognition of community rights. This strengthened the G77 and China’s negotiating positions.
Gebre Egziabher was instrumental in securing recommendations from the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) encouraging African countries to develop and implement community rights, a common position on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, and a clear stance against patents on life. Gebre Egziabher also guided the drafting of the OAU model legislation for community rights, which is now used as the common basis for all African countries.
At the 1999 biosafety negotiations in Cartagena, Colombia, Gebre Egziabher was the spokesperson for the majority of the G77 countries, called ‘the Like Minded Group’. These negotiations ended in deadlock, but reached a successful conclusion in Montreal in January 2000. Gebre Egziabher’s leadership of the Like Minded Group in the negotiations played a key role in achieving an outcome against strong US and EU opposition – that protects biosafety and biodiversity and respects traditional and community rights in developing countries.
Gebre Egziabher is also named one of the 2006 winners of the United Nations top environmental prize, Champions of the Earth.
He was a member of the World Future Council.
1. “Tewolde Behran Grebe Egziabher”. Centro de Estudos Sociais Laboratório Associado Universidade de Coimbra. 2002.
2. a b “2006 Laureates”. United Nations Environment Programme. 2006. Archived from the original on 2015-04-07.
3. “Dr. Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabher”. www.worldfuturecouncil.org. World Future Council. Archived from the original on 2016-12-24.
4. “Biography of Tewolde Berhan GEBRE EGZIABHER”. www.africansuccess.org/. African Success. 19 January 2009.
5. Source- Wikipedia