Mr. Watanabe supervises various activities of GEOC, and closely liaises with the Ministry of Environment of Japan (MOEJ) and its subsidiary bodies. He also serves as the focal point of the UNU ISO14001 team. Before joining UNU-IAS, Mr. Watanabe was the Director General of the Nature Conservation Bureau of MOEJ. He graduated from the Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Tokyo in 1978 with a major in landscape architecture. In the same year, he joined the Environment Agency, where he dedicated himself to national parks and wildlife protection throughout Japan.
In 2001, when MOEJ was established, he took charge of formulating the 2nd National Biodiversity Strategy. As Director of East Hokkaido Regional Nature Conservation Office, he took initiative for the designation of Shiretoko World Heritage Site as well as the nature restoration project in Kushiro Wetland. He also played a pivotal role in the success of the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP10) in 2010.
During his long and extensive career at MOEJ, he was involved in biodiversity related policy development both domestically and internationally including the Satoyama Initiative and Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). He has been appointed as the Executive Coordinator of the Japan Wildlife Research Center since October 2012.