Dr. Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, MP, is a leading politician in Environmental and Climate Law and Policy at the Mediterranean Region. She currently serves as the Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Environmental Protection and a Member of the Hellenic Parliament. She has served as the Vice Chair of the Global Water Partnership Organization representing the Mediterranean Region and the Chair of the Circle of the Parliamentarians for Sustainable Development. In 2022, she was shortlisted by the UN as a candidate for the position of the Executive Director of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Dr. Avgerinopoulou serves as the Chairperson of the Special Permanent Parliamentary Committee on Environmental Protection and the Subcommittee of the Watercourses of the Hellenic Parliament. Under this capacity, she has co-chaired the debates on several environmental and climate strategies, policies and legislation, including the first Climate Law of Greece, the Law establishing the first Greek Agency on Nature, Environment and Climate Change, and the National Strategy on Biodiversity and the National Plan for the Energy and Climate. She also participates at the parliamentary and governmental delegations of the most important environmental and climate meetings, such as the UNFCCC COPs, the CBD COPs, the UNEAs, and the UN HLPPs, helping mainstreaming, among others, the gender and climate agenda. Dionysia’s innovative work focuses on the one hand on fostering science, technology and innovation for the solution of environmental and climate issues, and on the other hand on climate finance. For instance, she is the first politician in Greece to introduce the climate finance and the ESG concept in the public debate. She works constantly on the climate-water-food-energy nexus; the decarbonization and just transition; the electrification of shipping from RES; the development of alternative fuels for transportation; the prevention and response to natural and anthropogenic emergencies; the biodiversity protection; the promotion of reforestation; knowledge management; the environmental and climate dimensions of agriculture, including both mitigation and adaptation; the sustainable tourism; the efficient waste management and the development of a circular economy; the empowerment of the enforcement mechanisms of Environmental Law; the support of innovative technologies for earth applications, including space technologies and DAC innovations; the promotion of renewable energy sources; the further participation of women at COPs, since women can act as an immense force for change by leading their communities and the world towards a more sustainable future.
Dionysia has held several other important parliamentary positions on the international level. For instance, she has served as the first Chairperson of the Standing Committee for the UN Affairs of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, in Geneva, Switzerland, where she had joined the team for the deliberations between the IPU and the UN regarding the adoption of the SDGs. Dionysia participates in a series of other parliamentary networks on climate and the environment, including the Climate Parliament and the Network of Women Ministers and Leaders for the Environment.
On the regional level, Dr. Avgerinopoulou has served as the Chairperson of the Circle of the Mediterranean Parliamentarians on Sustainable Development (COMPSUD). Leading a dynamic network of Parliamentarians, members of the Environment Committees of twenty-six countries around the Mediterranean Sea, Dionysia-Theodora placed particular emphasis on efforts for the de-pollution of the Mediterranean, the combat against marine litter, and especially micro-plastics; she actively promoted sustainable education, north – south and south-sough cooperation and technology transfer, while she raised awareness on common issues that the Mediterranean countries share, such as the slow onset events due to climate change, including coastal erosion and natural disasters, most prominently wildfires. Her efforts in the Mediterranean Region were also focused on the refugee crisis, where she developed a project along with COMPSUD, in order to mitigate the environmental impacts of the refugee issue, facilitate the sustainable use of natural resources, and offer further humanitarian assistance.
She has also served as the Vice-Chair for the Mediterranean Commission on Sustainable Development of UNEP/MAP. As Vice-Chair, she has reviewed the Mid-Term Strategy of UNEP/MAP for the protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean; reviewed sustainable development projects within the Mediterranean Region, including projects on biodiversity; reviewed reports on the Good Environmental Status of the Mediterranean; provided assistance to the Contracting Parties in meeting their obligations under Articles 4 and 10 of the Barcelona Convention, and under the “Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean”, and implementing the “Strategic Action Programme for the Conservation of Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean Region”.
In addition, she stands at the forefront for scaling up the climate ambition in the Mediterranean region, including the acceleration of the use of renewable sources of energy, while she is working on promoting sustainable and smart cities in the region, as well as the “green ports” and the “green islands”, a flagship initiative led by Greece as part of the NDCs of the country. In parallel, she has led parliamentary dialogues along with Members of the European Parliament and Members of the other EU Parliaments especially on the issues of biodiversity protection, reforestation and forest fire prevention on both a multilateral and a bilateral level.
Due to her successful work on the regional field, she was elected as the regional representative and then as the Vice-Chair of the Steering Committee of the Global Water Partnership Organization (GWPO) in Stockholm, Sweden. As the Vice-Chair, Dionysia promoted further the concept of the integrated water resources management, while she worked along with the representatives of the UN Water, the World Bank, and the founding States and sponsors of GWPO. She co-led the global dialogue on the valuation of water, and she mainstreamed even further the climate dimension in the water management principles, techniques and projects of the GWPO. She supported the participation of Youth and Women on the Climate and Water agenda of GWPO and the human rights agenda regarding to access to healthy and adequate water, including the gender dimension.
Dr. Avgerinopoulou was, also, elected as the Head of Water of the Energy and Environment Committee of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in Paris, France, while she was appointed as Head of the Environment and Energy Commission of the International Chamber of Commerce in Greece. In these capacities, Dionysia participated in a series of UNFCCC COPs and SBs meetings and contributed in shaping the positions of the ICC regarding energy and environmental issues that relate to the business community worldwide, such as the Global Compact for the Environment, the Just Transition Framework and the Global Constitution of the Environment.
Dionysia-Theodora is an attorney-at-law by profession. She has previously worked, among others, at the Legal Service of the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium, the Permanent Mission of the European Union at the United Nations in New York, U.S.A., the Center on Environmental and Land Use Law of the New York University School of Law in New York, the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy and the Yale Law School in New Haven, C.T., U.S.A.
Dionysia received a first Degree in Law (LL.B.) from the Faculty of Law of the National and Kapodestrian University of Athens, Greece, with Hons., and an LL.M. in International Legal Studies from Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. with Distinction. She also holds a Doctorate Degree in International Environmental Law (J.S.D.) from Columbia University School of Law in New York, NY., focusing on the integration of science, including climate science, in international lawmaking processes and the Global Environmental Governance, including climate governance and the Global Environmental Administrative Law. Dionysia is the author of several academic articles and a book on International and European Environmental and Climate Law. She teaches Public International Law, International Environmental Law, European Environmental Law, Law of Sustainable Development, Climate Change Law and Energy Law.
Dr. Avgerinopoulou has been elected as a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum for her leadership in environmental protection. She has received the “Green Star” Award by UNEP/OCHA/Green Cross International for her efforts in preventing and responding to environmental emergencies. She was also selected among the “40Under40” of the EU, namely among the most distinguished 40 leaders of the European Union under the age of 40. She also received a Special Congressional Recognition for her “outstanding efforts and invaluable contributions on behalf of Hellenic Students and the environment” and the Global Citizenship Award for Leadership in Assisting Humanity by Orphans International Worldwide in 2010. Last but not least, she is the recipient of the international Goddess Artemis Award by the Euro-American Women’s Council for her contribution to transatlantic cooperation between the U.S. and the EU on environmental and climate change issues.
She speaks Greek, English, French, German and Spanish. She is the mother of one young boy.