Speaker Biographies


Olivier De Schutter

Olivier De Schutter

UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, United Nations


Olivier De Schutter (LL.M., Harvard University ; Ph.D., University of Louvain (UCL)), the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food since May 2008, is a Professor at the Catholic University of Louvain and at the College of Europe (Natolin). He is also a Member of the Global Law School Faculty at New York University and is Visiting Professor at Columbia University.

In 2002-2006, he chaired the EU Network of Independent Experts on Fundamental Rights, a high-level group of experts which advised the European Union institutions on fundamental rights issues. He has acted on a number of occasions as expert for the Council of Europe and for the European Union.

Since 2004, and until his appointment as the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, he has been the General Secretary of the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) on the issue of globalization and human rights.

His publications are in the area of international human rights and fundamental rights in the EU, with a particular emphasis on economic and social rights and on the relationship between human rights and governance. His most recent book is International Human Rights Law (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2010).

Modibo Traoré

Modibo Traoré

Assistant Director-General, Agriculture and Consumer Protection Dept, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations


Mr Modibo Tiémoko Traoré, a national from Mali, has taken over as Assistant Director-General charged with the Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department at FAO Headquarters in August 2008 after 6 months as FAO Regional Representative for Africa in Accra, Ghana.
Mr Traoré, a former National Director of Mali’s Livestock and Veterinary Services was his country’s Minister for Rural Development (Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries) between 1994 and 2000, and also held responsibility for the Environment and Water Resources. Mr Traoré was also Mali’s Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China between 2000 and 2005 and Head of the African Union’s Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources for three years before joining FAO.
Mr Traoré holds an M.Sc. in Veterinary Medicine from the Agricultural Academy of Ukraine and a Doctorat d’Etat ès Sciences (PhD) in Animal Production and Health from the University of Paris XII.

Despina Spanou

Despina Spanou

Principal Advisor, Directorate General for Health and Consumers, European Commission


Despina Spanou is since 1 April 2010, Principal Adviser at the Directorate-General for Health and Consumers. She works on policy and communication and also chairs certain stakeholder fora, including the Platform for action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health and the High Level Group on Nutrition and Physical activity as well as the Alcohol and Health Forum.

She also represents the Directorate General for Health and Consumers at the High Level Forum on the Competitiveness of the food chain.

She was previously the Deputy Head of Cabinet for the European Commissioners for Health Mr. Kyprianou (2004-2008) and Mrs. Vassiliou (2008-2010).

Despina Spanou started her career at the European Commission's Directorate General for Competition after having practised European competition law for a number of years with the Brussels branch of a US law firm. She is a qualified lawyer and holds a Ph.D in European law from the University of Cambridge.

In 2004, she joined the Cabinet of Markos Kyprianou as Member and was nominated as Deputy Head of Cabinet in 2007. She maintained this position under Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou when she took over the portfolio of Health in 2008 through to the beginning of the Barroso II Commission mandate.

During her time at the Cabinet of Health and Consumers, she acquired significant experience through the handling of a wide range of DG SANCO policy issues. She coordinated food chain issues, including the avian flu crisis in 2006, EU food trade relations with Russia, and biotechnology, including international aspects.

She also advised on public health policy files, including the first European Partnership on Action against Cancer and relations with third countries on health issues.

Philip Lymbery

Philip Lymbery

Chief Executive, Compassion in World Farming


Philip is the CEO of leading international farm animal welfare organisation, Compassion in World Farming. His sights are set firmly on ending factory farming worldwide for the benefit of animals, people and the planet. He believes passionately that the future of our food relies on achieving truly humane and sustainable food production globally.

His fascination with animals started at an early age; a present of a book on wild birds from his grandfather triggered a passion for birdwatching. His early interest in wildlife remains and fuels his continuing fight for the welfare of animals.

Philip first became aware of farm animal cruelty and the work of Compassion in World Farming while he was at school. Of a talk given by Compassion at his school, he recalls: “I remember vividly how much the talk blew my mind. Finding out about all hens, those birds being kept in tiny cages, I felt then, as I do today, that something must be done, and urgently.”

With twenty years of professional experience in animal welfare, Philip’s former roles include Director of Communications for the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) (2003-2005) and freelance campaigner and strategist (2000-2003). He was Compassion’s Campaigns Director throughout the 1990s and led the successful 1998-99 European campaign to ban battery cages. He also played a major role in the high profile and award-winning campaign in 1994-96 to ban live animal exports.

Since becoming Chief Executive of Compassion in 2005, Philip has focused on strengthening the charity’s European and international campaigning capacity. He is also largely responsible for re-positioning Compassion’s issues as a mainstream concern; engaging with influential food industry companies in influencing global policy makers, as well as continuing to push for driving legislative reform on farm animal welfare. “I have always been, and continue to be, very optimistic about what we can accomplish, especially after seeing all the reforms that have already been achieved,” he says. Ultimately, as Compassion’s CEO, Philip hopes to see the end of factory farming worldwide in his lifetime.

Philip lives in Hampshire with his wife Helen, stepson Luke, and their four adopted hens – Hetty, Henna, Honey and Hope. He is an avid music lover, enjoys playing the guitar and – thanks to Luke – has rediscovered his passion for football. He has also been a professional wildlife tour leader and is a licensed bird ringer for the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO).

Jeremy Wates

Jeremy Wates

Secretary General, European Environmental Bureau


Jeremy Wates is the Secretary General of the European Environmental Bureau, Europe’s largest federation of environmental organizations comprising 143 member organizations from 29 European countries.

Prior to taking up his present post in May 2011, Jeremy served for more than a decade as Secretary to the Aarhus Convention with the Geneva-based United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. The Aarhus Convention is the world’s most far-reaching legally binding treaty on access to information, public participation in decision-making, and access to justice in environmental matters.

During the 1990s, Jeremy led the campaign by the European ECO Forum, an NGO coalition, to persuade governments to start work on a treaty on environmental democracy and then coordinated the input from civil society organizations into the official negotiations over the Aarhus Convention text.

In the 1980s, he founded the Irish environmental organization Earthwatch, the Irish member of Friends of the Earth International, and led the organization for more than a decade.

Jeremy holds an MA Honours Degree in Philosophy and Social and Political Sciences from Cambridge University, UK.

Jean-Pierre Halkin

Jean-Pierre Halkin

Head of Unit DEVCO/C1, EuropeAid, European Commission


Jean-Pierre Halkin joined the DG Development of Commission in 1986.

From 1992 to 1997, Jean-Pierre Halkin went to Côte d'Ivoire as Economic Adviser where he dealt with a broad portfolio including rural development programmes, value chains, regional trade, and access to market. He was also in charge of the coordination of a vast food security intervention mitigating the impact of the Liberian war in four countries (Liberia, Ivory Coast, Guinea, and Sierra Leone).

Since then, Jean-Pierre has been working in Brussels, in the field of external relations where he took various posts including the coordination of the task force on "Drugs/Money Laundering” and management of food security interventions in Asia.

In 2006, Jean-Pierre Halkin was appointed Head of the Unit in EuropeAid in charge of Food Security and Nutrition, Rural Development and Agriculture, Environment and Climate Change.

Since 2011, Jean-Pierre has been in charge of the Unit in EuropeAid which is responsible for Rural Development, Food Security and Nutrition. The Unit is responsible for policy development, technical support and the management of financial instruments notably the Food Security Thematic Programme (1.750M€), the Accompanying Measures accompanying the Sugar Protocol (1.200 M€), the Food Facility (1000M€).

Dil Peeling

Dil Peeling

Director of Public Affairs, Compassion in World Farming


Dil Peeling is a veterinarian with an MSc in Environmental Management. Following nine years as a farm animal clinician in the UK, he has spent the last 20 years working with governments and civil society in some twenty five countries to maximise the benefits and reduce the negative impacts of animal production, including its environmental, food quality, food security and animal welfare dimensions.

As such, his interests have increasingly moved towards the global structure and regulation of the livestock sector. He recently left the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations where he was supporting the governments of the Horn of Africa to reorient their livestock sector in support of the rural poor, to take up the post of Director of Public Affairs at Compassion in World Farming.



Tuesday 20 March, 2012
18.00 to 22.00




La Bibliothèque Solvay

Parc LĂ©opold
rue Belliard 137
1040 Brussels

Tel: +32 (0) 2 738 75 96



In Italiano

In der Deutschen

Philip Lymbery Presentation

En Français

English Press Release



Compassion in World Farming