The UNCTAD Virtual Institute (Vi) and its sister programmes, the Course on Key International Economic Issues and TrainForTrade (TFT), are sad to announce the death of Brazilian professor, Mario Ferreira Presser, who throughout the years lent his invaluable expertise to the achievement of the programmes' goals.
Prof. Presser -- Mario, as he was known to us -- passed away on Wednesday, March 26, after battling cancer. He was 59.
Mario began his involvement with UNCTAD's capacity-building programmes in 2002, when he participated in the course on Key International Economic Issues held in Turin, Italy.
The course and subsequent fellowship at UNCTAD were key elements in the establishment of the post-graduate programme in Economic Diplomacy at the Institute of Economics of Brazil's University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in 2003, of which Mario was coordinator.
"The Economic Diplomacy programme, a truly original endeavour at the time it was conceived, has served as inspiration to other members of the Virtual Institute network," said Vlasta Macku, Chief of the Virtual Institute.
"Mario was a keen supporter of UNCTAD's capacity building programs," agreed Mohan Panicker, coordinator of the UNCTAD Course on Key International Economic Issues.
In 2005, Mario was selected to lead the team of independent external evaluators of this UNCTAD course, and continued his collaboration with the programme by monitoring its progress and its impact on institutional capacity building.
"Through his involvement as the leader of the team that evaluated the course on Key Issues on the International Economic Agenda, Mario advocated for closer links between academics and policymakers and the inclusion of both groups on the course, which proved to be a successful model used in our courses since 2006," Macku said.
"He continuously stayed in touch, recommending participants, sharing his views and providing professional advice to enhance the program," Panicker added.
Mario also served as a member of the UNCTAD Advisory Group on the Strengthening of Training Capacities and Human Resources Development in the first three meetings of the Group in 2002, 2004 and 2005. As such, he was able to give a decisive contribution to the thinking of this Group, which advises the UNCTAD's Secretary-General on questions related to the organization's training and capacity building work. Mario's inputs allowed the Group to take into full consideration the needs and approaches of Latin American countries in the field of trade-related capacity-building.
Mario's experience and deep conviction that universities should play an important role in trade-related capacity building contributed to the conceptualization of the UNCTAD Virtual Institute - of which the University of Campinas became a founding member in 2005.
"Mario also helped us develop a number of services that we are now providing to our member universities, such as the study tours for Masters students to Geneva-based international organizations and the Virtual Institute fellowship programme," added Macku.
Mario obtained his PhD in economics from UNICAMP, after undertaking doctoral courses at the Faculty of Economics and Politics of the University of Cambridge, UK. He also completed master and bachelor economics degrees in Brazil.
In 2005, he held UNICAMP´s Buenos Aires Chair at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. He also led a research group in Economic Diplomacy at the National Council of Scientific Research. He published extensively in the field of economics, with particular emphasis on economic diplomacy and capacity building in developing countries.
Our thoughts are with his wife, Luciana Togeiro de Almeida, and his children, Victor and Eduardo.