Angela Cropper 1945-2012: CIFOR remembers a champion for forests and people

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Angela Cropper was a champion for forests and people. CIFOR photo library.

BOGOR, Indonesia (14 November, 2012)_Angela Cropper, one of the world’s leading environmental policy experts and a former chair of CIFOR’s Board of Trustees, passed away on November 12, 2012. She was 66.

During her time at CIFOR, she was a visionary on the critical role that forests play in addressing challenges such as extreme poverty and climate change.

“Angela will be very sadly missed,” said Peter Holmgren, CIFOR’s Director General.

“The legacy of her passion and commitment to forestry will continue, through the organisations she has supported, the policies and knowledge she helped to create and the people she has inspired.”

Cropper was a member of the CIFOR Board of Trustees from 2000 to 2006, including being board chair for the last three years.

“Her work to develop and grow CIFOR during her time on the board was but one of many positive impacts she made in the international forestry field,” Holmgren said.

Those who worked alongside Cropper at CIFOR remember her as an innovator who was courageous and caring in equal measure.

“I have known Angela for many years. She was a most gentle, intelligent and courageous person,” said Hosny El-Lakany, the current chair of CIFOR’s board.

“CIFOR will always be indebted to her.”

Former CIFOR Director General, David Kaimowitz, described her as “an exceptional person and an extraordinary board chair”.

“Among many other things, few people realise that she was the one who came up with the idea of the International Year of Forests, when she was on the CIFOR board,” he said.

Cropper oversaw the board as CIFOR celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2003 and her leadership with Kaimowitz saw CIFOR receive highly positive assessments in the 2006 CGIAR External Program Management Review, including a special mention of the exemplary dedication of the Board.

“Angela was completely tireless and endlessly inspiring to the rest of us on the Board”, said Christine Padoch, Director of CIFOR’s Forests and Livelihoods Programme, who served as Board Vice-Chair while Cropper was Chair.

Cropper championed the emphasis on working in Sub-Saharan Africa, on issues of importance to women, and on the problems of the dry forest dwellers – tenets that are central to CIFOR’s work today.

Andrew Bennett, who succeeded Cropper as Board Chair until 2010, described her as “deeply respected by everyone she worked with. She was sincere, considered and extremely committed to diversity issues, both social and scientific”.

Equity was always at the core of Cropper’s work and she was driven by strong values of social justice.

“Forest policies could benefit poor families, women and ethnic minorities much more if those groups’ voices were heard and policy-makers understood the impacts of their actions. Research can facilitate both those things,” she wrote in the foreword to CIFOR’s 2005 Annual Report.

Robert Nasi, Director of the CGIAR Research Programme on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, has fond memories of working with Cropper at CIFOR.

“She was an exceptional human being, able to engage genuinely and honestly with anyone’s problems, whatever their social or work status,” Nasi said.

“She was among the few people who had a vision, beyond their own interest or culture, for our world.”

The main author of the 1999 ‘Our Forests…Our Future’ report by the World Commission on Forests and Sustainable Development, Cropper dedicated her life’s work to improving environmental and forestry policy.

During her exemplary career, she contributed to policy, analysis and governance of environmental challenges such as resource management, biodiversity and climate change, both in the Caribbean region and internationally.

In 2007, she was appointed Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, a position she held until 2011.

In 2000, Cropper and her husband, John, established The Cropper Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation promoting sustainable development and improved environmental and resource management.

In a statement, the Foundation wrote that Cropper’s passing was “a tremendous loss to Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean and the global community.”

“In a career spanning thirty-nine years, she gave unstintingly of herself in public policy positions and in voluntary service in education, governance and the environment,” the statement said.

To learn more about Cropper’s life and work, visit The Cropper Foundation

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