Yoko Watanabe

Director, Environment, ADB Climate Change and Sustainable Development Department

Yoko Watanabe heads ADB’s environmental sustainability work, including biodiversity conservation and ecosystem restoration, air quality, circular economy and waste management, and nature-based solutions and investments.

She has over 25 years of professional experience working on biodiversity and natural resources management. Prior to joining ADB, she directed the GEF Small Grants Programme as its Global Manager at UNDP in New York. Before that she worked at the Global Environment Facility and held key positions for over a decade, including Regional Coordinator for the Asia Program, Coordinator on Gender and Social Inclusion, and Program Manager on Biodiversity. While at the World Bank, Yoko also served at the Rwanda Country Office and managed its environment portfolio. Yoko also worked at the World Wildlife Fund as its Conservation Director in Mongolia and later as a Senior Advisor on Multilateral Relations in Washington DC. She started her development career at JICA in Tokyo, and later at UNDP as Environment Program Officer at Nepal and Mongolia Offices.

Yoko is a Japanese national and holds a master’s degree in international development with a focus on environment management.

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