Introducing Tony O’Keeffe, new BIOPAMA focal point for the Pacific

11 September 2013 | Article

Tony O’Keeffe has recently joined the growing team at IUCN Oceania as the Protected Areas Coordinator and will lead activities for BIOPAMA in the region.

Tony is Australian and has worked for over 25 years in conservation management.  He has experience in just about every aspect of natural area management from field operations and project management through to high end strategic land use planning and policy creation. This includes working at all levels of government, for the private sector and with NGO’s. He has lived in Suva, Fiji for the last twelve months and immediately prior to this he was working for three years in Torres Strait on the development of a Land and Sea Ranger Program. He brings good analytical and forward thinking skills to the project, but just as importantly, a good sense of project practicalities and a strong interest in building relationships with colleagues and partners to combine knowledge, expertise and resources for maximum effect.

He intends to use his initial few months with the project to draft a realistic work plan in collaboration with key stakeholders and the international research centre partners. Tony acknowledges that "much work has been undertaken in the past, and continues to occur with some exceptional efforts in biodiversity conservation and protected area management throughout the Pacific. It is essential to draw on the lessons and experiences gained along the way in order to shape and then prioritise some worthy and achievable initiatives in the early stages of the project". He adds: "project success will rely closely on guidance and expertise from regional and national partners and stakeholders. They are well placed to suggest opportunities, help set outcomes and priorities, design activities, contribute resources, and in the longer term to review and comment on ways the project can be adjusted and improved for best effect in the region".

Tony’s new role is fundamental to achieving BIOPAMA’s goals and advancing its reach within and beyond the Pacific region. The BIOPAMA regional work in the Pacific will focus on the development of regionally tailored capacity building programmes and the establishment of a centre for protected areas and biodiversity for the Pacific.

Tony can be contacted at tony.okeeffe@iucn.org