Arrived in Geneva: October 2008
Organization: Lead, Fisheries Subsidies, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
Hometown: Wellington, New Zealand
Tell us who you are and what you do in Geneva.
I came to Geneva as a New Zealand diplomat and worked in the Mission to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and then the Mission to the United Nations. After I left the foreign service, I started work on policy research and dialogue about the links between international trade and sustainable development. One of my main roles is supporting negotiations on new rules on subsidies to fishing at the WTO.
How does your organization reflect the 2030 Agenda’s paradigms of innovation, integration and collaboration in its activities?
IISD’s work reflects integration in the topics we work on, and collaboration and innovation in the way we deliver policy-relevant research and advocacy. As an institute, we work on a very diverse set of issues, from scientific research on the ecology of freshwater lakes in Canada through to reform of the energy sector in South Africa and subsidies to fishing in Indonesia.
Each of these areas of work learns from other areas, taking lessons on energy subsidy reform processes and applying them, with modifications, to the reform of subsidies to fishing, for example. Our work on trade policy, which is quite new, builds on integrated collaboration between staff with skills in energy and subsidies policy with those of experts on investment law and people, like me, with an expertise in trade policy and law.
What do you find unique about the Geneva ecosystem of actors?
There are few cities in the world – perhaps none – that are the seat of such a wide range of international organizations and therefore where such a wide variety of global issues are tackled simultaneously.
The diplomats and international civil servants who work in Geneva have a unique opportunity, while they are here, to see across issues and identify how they are interconnected, giving them a broader perspective on the multi-faceted nature of international policymaking. This policy-making community also has the opportunity to engage with and learn from “local” actors with international reach, including global non-governmental organizations advocating for environmental protection, for example, as well as umbrella organizations representing businesses around the world.
What do you think is one of the most important assets / qualities of the Geneva ecosystem of actors?
The most important quality of this ecosystem is the intellectual curiosity of the people in it. Learning about topics and perspectives you’re not familiar with requires intellectual curiosity; you have to want to learn something new. Without it, people miss the unique opportunity of being in Geneva.
What is on your mind right now?
Right now, my mind is focused on supporting WTO negotiators to reach an agreement to end harmful fisheries subsidies and meet SDG target 14.6 as soon as possible. Reaching this target will be beneficial for restoring the health of our oceans and for the millions of people who rely on this sector for food security and jobs, particularly in developing countries. Although the December 2020 deadline to meet this agreement has been missed, WTO members aim to build on this year’s momentum to finalize an agreement in 2021.
Our work focuses on providing negotiators with analysis and research to help them craft an agreement that will make a real difference to the sustainability of global fishing.
If you are new to the topic and interested to know why a WTO agreement on fisheries subsidies that lead to overfishing is so important, have a look at some of the reasons here.
What’s your favourite thing to do in and around Geneva?
Like most New Zealanders, I love anything to do with the outdoors. My favourite thing to do in winter is to go sledding with my daughters, who are 2 and 4. Even if it only lasts an hour before they get tired, I still find snowy landscapes magical.
What is one thing that most people do not know about you?
It’s depressing after all these years, but my daughters already speak better French than me. Until now, only their teachers knew!