TESS aims to be flexible and nimble. Focused on leveraging partnerships, TESS is run by a small core staff covering the following functions: strategic direction and program development; policy advice; program coordination; partnerships and donor relations; communications and event management. TESS will be hiring over the Summer of 2021 and looks forward to announcing its full team in the coming months.

Carolyn Deere Birkbeck
Mahesh Sugathan
Deepashree Maledavar

Carolyn Deere Birkbeck


Dr. Carolyn Deere Birkbeck is the Director of the Forum on Trade, Environment and the SDGs, a partnership between the Graduate Institute and UNEP, housed at the Geneva Trade Platform.  She is also a Senior Researcher at the Institute’s Global Governance Centre, where she leads a research project on the political economy and regulation of the global plastics economy, supported by the Swiss Network of International Studies. She is an Associate Fellow of the Chatham House and a Senior Research Associate at the University of Oxford’s Global Economic Governance Programme.

Dr. Deere Birkbeck is the founder and Board Chair of Global Policy Reporting, a Geneva-based non-profit organisation dedicated to open access, independent and professional news reporting, which houses Health Policy Watch (launched in 2019) and Intellectual Property Watch for the prior 15 years. Before moving to academia, Dr. Deere Birkbeck served as an Assistant Director at the Rockefeller Foundation in New York where she was responsible for grantmaking on intellectual property, trade and sustainable development.  Previously, she worked in Washington, D.C. for the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and as the Manager of the Congressional Staff Forum on International Development at the Overseas Development Council. 

Carolyn has been a consultant to a range of non-governmental and international organisations, including UNEP, UNCTAD, Chatham House, the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), the Commonwealth Secretariat, UNDP’s Office of the Human Development Report, the National Wildlife Federation, the Yale Centre for Environmental Law and Policy, the Open Society Institute, the South Centre and the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD).

Carolyn is the author of Greening International Trade: Pathways Forward (TESS and partners, 2021), The Governance of WIPO: A Reference Guide (Edward Elgar Press, 2016) and Governing the World Intellectual Property Organization: The Power Politics of Institutional Crisis and Reform (forthcoming). She is also the editor of Making Global Trade Governance Work for Development: Perspectives and Priorities from Developing Countries (Cambridge University Press 2011), author of The Implementation Game: The TRIPS Agreement and the Global Politics of Intellectual Property Reform in Developing Countries (Oxford University Press 2009, paperback 2011), and the co-editor (with Dan Esty) of Greening the Americas: NAFTA’s Lessons for Hemispheric Trade (MIT Press 2002). She holds a DPhil in International Relations (University College, Oxford), an MA in International Relations (Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies) and a bachelors degree in political economy from the University of Sydney.

Mahesh Sugathan

Senior Policy Adviser


Mahesh Sugathan is a Senior Policy Adviser at the Forum on Trade, Environment and the SDGs, and an independent trade and sustainability expert. His work focusses on research and analysis of trade and investment policies, negotiations and agreements (WTO, regional and bilateral trade negotiations and agreements) relevant to sustainable development issues such as environmental technologies and services, plastic pollution and plastic substitutes, climate change, agriculture, biodiversity, clean energy, environmental pollution, circular economy, product standards and labelling.

He has been a consultant for a range of international organisations including the World Bank, the International Trade Centre (ITC), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the ACP Secretariat.

Deepashree Maledavar

Programme Associate

Deepashree is a Programme Associate at the Forum on Trade, Environment and the SDGs (TESS). As a young professional in the development sector, she has worked with international organisations like Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) of the MENA region and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) New York office, and Government of Madhya Pradesh and Pratham Education Foundation in India.

Some of her past projects include: water governance analysis in Jordan and Lebanon; analysis of drinking water supplied by urban local bodies in Madhya Pradesh; evaluation of flagship programmes of Government of Madhya Pradesh, government teacher training and recruitment, and the importance of nutrition in early childhood in India. This work has included program planning and implementation, monitoring and evaluation, issue-based research, and capacity building.

Deepashree has an undergraduate degree in electronics and communication engineering, and is currently pursuing a Masters in Development Studies, with a specialization in Environment, Resources and Sustainability, at the Graduate Institute of International and Developmental Studies in Geneva. Her masters thesis is focused on the “Debate around Net-Zero in India and Indian agriculture”.

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