Board of Directors
Within a few minutes, Sigrid Lüber’s path of life was redrawn by a touching encounter with a school of dolphins when diving in the Indian Ocean. In the same year, in 1989, together with a handful of like-minded people, she founded OceanCare, for which she has served as the president since 1993. A skilled machine designer with long-standing commercial experience in international corporations, Sigrid volunteered her free time to OceanCare from 1989 until 2003. Since 2003, she has been working full-time to protect marine wildlife and the oceans.
Sigrid’s passion and goal is the global preservation of oceans and the species within them. This focus has driven Sigrid to work hard to ensure OceanCare’s voice is heard within various high level intergovernmental fora and resulted in numerous successes influencing international ocean policy. Since 1992, Sigrid has participated in conferences of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) advocating for an end to commercial whaling and promoting the growth of the IWC’s conservation and welfare agenda. Since 2004, she has also been playing an active role in all United Nations (UN) related bodies dealing with ocean governance and policy. Sigrid builds and maintains excellent relationships with decision-makers both nationally and internationally. Owing to her cooperation with the UN and in recognition of the organisation’s expertise and credibility, OceanCare was awarded Special Consultative Status by the United Nations Economic and Social Council in 2011. Most recently, in 2015, OceanCare received invitation from the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) to be accredited as Major Group to UNEA, the world’s highest-level decision-making body on environmental issues.
Sigrid’s profound knowledge about the seas and the legal basis of international ocean conservation is self-taught and a credit to her many years of experience. With her visionary sense for upcoming issues and her well balanced combination of pragmatism, knowledge, commitment, courage and perseverance, she was instrumental in making OceanCare an organisation widely respected by international bodies and scientific professionals worldwide.
The well-being of humans, nature and animals have always been close to Sigrid’s heart. Outside of the OceanCare office Sigrid can often be found walking in the tranquility of the Swiss mountains with her husband Ed, and their beloved dog.
Stefani Westphal Vonesch
Stefani Westphal has been a member of OceanCare since 1993. She was elected to the Board of Directors in 2001 and became Vice President in 2003.
Water is Stefani’s element, thirst for knowledge is one of her main traits, and animals are her big love. As a child, Stefani spent her days snorkelling in Lake Zurich and in addition to some semesters studying zoology and a 10 year career in marketing, she became a professional diver. In her many years as a sports diver and diving instructor, Stefani has come to know and love the marine environment, always feeling like a privileged guest in an amazingly different world. On her numerous dives, she is acutely aware of the beauty of, and the threats to this wonderful part of our planet. It is very important to her that her work at OceanCare contributes to the conservation of marine habitats.
Besides her work for OceanCare, Stefani is a dedicated breeder of Rhodesian Ridgebacks. This dog breed fits to her passion for Southern Africa, where she completed “Basic Ranger” training.
While he was bound to neutrality as an auditor for many years, Andreas Bommel is now happy to be able to engage more directly in OceanCare’s work as the treasurer. A certified public accountant, he was working for 16 years for high profile firms, before he became self-employed in 2007. From 2008 to 2016, he served as an auditor for OceanCare. He was elected to the organisation’s Board of Directors in 2016.
As an “enthusiastic pragmatist”, he is confident in OceanCare’s factual, science-based approach. All areas of environmental and species conservation, both on land and in water, are important to Andreas. Also highly compassionate for his fellow humans, he sees economy and ecology as intertwined, given that agriculture, tourism and many other business areas are directly or indirectly depend on nature. Concerned that humans don’t yet fully understand the complex and dependent relationship we have with the natural world, leading us to destroy it out of ignorance, Andreas places puts great hope and value on science and its proper communication and sees this as a vital part of OceanCare’s work. He has no doubt that we need a shift in attitudes, because we only have one planet.
A terrestrial at heart, Andreas likes to roam the woods, meadows and fields by foot or by bike; he is also fond of photography, music and couple dance. He is perfectly satisfied with watching the underwater world in documentaries. Nonetheless, he thinks that it is vital to engage in marine conservation, as the oceans are the basis of all life – including human life.
Umberto Annino devotes himself with heart and soul to whatever he is tackling. While his original career aspirations of becoming a veterinarian were not fulfilled, he is now happy being a specialist for IT-security and also dedicates his spare time to voluntary work. The father of a daughter also finds the time to serve as an actuary for OceanCare, providing strategic analysis within the Board of Directors and technical advice when required.
Umberto first became involved with OceanCare after meeting Sigrid Lüber and Stefani Westphal when he was learning to dive. His keen interest in diving and the underwater world was originally inspired by James Bond movies and the merging of technology and nature. “The smaller outer space”, this world with different rules, where breathing, sounds and movements don’t follow the usual patterns, installs him with a sense of awe. Umberto believes that “Engineering and manmade things are limited. The ocean is the basis of our life, and it is not replaceable in its complexity and beauty. We have to protect it.”
These days he struggles to find time to dive regularly, however his desire to engage in environmental issues, his love for animals, his social consciousness and his great breadth of understanding make him a valuable part of the OceanCare team.
As a lawyer, Rolf Huber advises OceanCare within the Board of Directors. His professional focus – real estate, construction and criminal law – fits surprisingly well, as construction law regularly involves environmental law issues. Rolf has been involved with OceanCare since 2012. As a father of two sons, Rolf wishes for them to inherit a healthy planet and this contributes to his willingness to provide his services to OceanCare on a pro bono basis.
The oceans with their diverse forms of life have fascinated Rolf ever since his childhood. He finds inspiration in the vastness and beauty of the seas which puts human existence into perspective. This fascination led him to take up diving when he was a student. On his trips in Europe, Asia and America, he has explored the world not only above, but also below the surface of the sea. On one of his first dives he remembers encountering a red octopus against a green background – the only animal far and wide in waters emptied of fish. Many wonderful dives since then made clear to him how fragile this habitat is and how massively we humans affect it.
Working on his own most of the time as a lawyer, he really enjoys the teamwork at OceanCare. He is convinced that good solutions come about by cooperation.
It was an interview with Sigrid Lüber on Radio SRF in 2017, which sparked Giuseppe Giudici’s interest in the work of OceanCare and finally prompted him to share his 20-year experience as a finance and insurance lawyer in Zurich, Munich, Los Angeles and Milan with OceanCare. Giuseppe completed a Master of Law at the University of Zurich, a Juris Doctor at the Augsburg University and an admission to the bar in Turin.
His involvement as a board member of OceanCare was triggered by the following scene on the famous Pampelonne beach in Saint Tropez: After a storm, the sea and the beach were heavily littered with plastic. Nevertheless, tourists enjoyed their aperitif and the sunset among piles of debris with a downright surreal indifference. Only a few families chose to collect and properly dispose of some of the plastic. As a form of continuation of this plastic collection activity, Giuseppe wants to use his experience to contribute to the development of remedial legislation and regulation. Reducing plastic and other harmful substances in the oceans and preserving biodiversity are very important to him. Eliminating the use of single-use plastic, he thinks, is primarily a matter of cultural change which can be activated by new rules.
His role model is the lawyer and activist Afroz Shah, who strongly contributed to establishing a culture of waste separation in India by running an awareness campaign. With adequate preparation, similar success should be possible in other countries, too.
Watching documentaries like “The First Eden” by Sir David Attenborough about life in the Mediterranean or the series “The Man from Atlantis” in his childhood stirred Giuseppe’s interest in marine wildlife. Among marine animals, Giuseppe feels most related to dolphins, which he had the opportunity to see already as a child on a ferry to Sicily.