Farewell to Douglas Hykle

Bonn, 31 October 2016– Douglas Hykle, erstwhile Deputy Executive Secretary of CMS and more recently Coordinator of the Indian Ocean-South-East Asian Marine Turtle Memorandum of Understanding (IOSEA) has retired after 27 years’ service with UNEP.

A native of Montreal, Canada, Douglas joined CMS from the CITES Secretariat in 1991.  Before that year was out, the incumbent Executive Coordinator (as the head of the Secretariat was then styled) departed, and Douglas found himself ‘running the CMS show’ for a year until the appointment of a permanent successor.  In those early days, the number of staff at the Secretariat could be counted on the fingers of one hand. 

During his twelve years at CMS Headquarters in Bonn, Douglas was instrumental in setting up the very first Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) concluded under the Convention, aimed at protecting the endangered Siberian Crane. That pioneering instrument served as a model for several other practical species agreements that he developed under CMS over the years.  Working closely with the US-based NGO, the International Crane Foundation, Douglas was involved in the ambitious Siberian Crane - Wetland Project, which received a multi-million dollar grant from the Global Environment Facility to secure the habitat of that iconic species and other waterbirds in China, Kazakhstan, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Russian Federation. 

With the passage of time, there are probably few people still associated with CMS who remember that Douglas was responsible for leading the challenging negotiations that resulted in ACCOBAMS – the legally-binding Black Sea/Mediterranean Sea cetacean agreement, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. 

“I started to work for AEWA in 1996 and I met Douglas for the first time during that year. Over the years and during several meetings I witnessed his extensive experience in respect to MEAs and how they function.  His institutional knowledge will be missed. We were all surprised to learn about his wish to go for an early but well deserved retirement. The Secretariat would like to thank Douglas for his considerable contribution to the development of CMS and his colleagues wish him a long and happy retirement.”

Bert Lenten, the current CMS Deputy Executive Secretary

Douglas left Bonn – but not CMS – in 2003 when he relocated to Bangkok to establish the secretariat for the newly-created Indian Ocean marine turtle MOU.

“Doug's leadership and vision have been crucial to negotiating and implementing the IOSEA MOU. Through his diligent work, there are now 35 Signatory States committed to sea turtle conservation and recovery. He developed many innovative online tools for Signatory States and stakeholders across the IOSEA region to enable sea turtle conservation activities. Doug has also worked to build partnerships across the IOSEA region and facilitated training to improve the region's capacity to carry out sea turtle conservation. We are grateful for Doug's contribution and commitment to sea turtle conservation.”

Alexis Gutierrez of the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

When asked about his retirement plans, Douglas replied: “My first priority is a book project, completely unrelated to nature conservation, that is going to occupy me for at least the next 2-3 years.  Apart from that, I have a wide assortment of other interests that I've never had enough time for - so I'm not too worried about becoming a 'couch-potato'!  But seriously, I also intend to keep involved in nature conservation in one way or another, whether it be helping out with projects I continue to be interested in or perhaps even making myself available to chair an occasional meeting.”

Douglas penned a retrospective on his 25 years with UNEP, which was published on the IOSEA website in February 2014.  You can read Douglas’s reminiscences here.

Last updated on 01 November 2016