“I worked on natural resources management, biodiversity, climate change and disaster risk management for many years in Indonesia, India, Thailand, Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America” - John Poulsen.
John Poulsen is the Team Leader and Chief Technical Advisor of the UNDP - Building Resilience to Climate Change project, in Papua New Guinea.
His work can be very remote, with weeks or months of travel to far-flung small islands in Morobe, Manus, East New Britain and Milne Bay provinces, as well as the Autonomous Region of Bougainville in the Western Pacific region.
Born in Denmark in a local and “thrifty” farming area in the agricultural heartland, John’s hometown is now a regional sports and business hub, and host to Northern Europe’s largest convention centre.
After high school Mr. Poulsen worked on a farm, before pursuing an undergraduate and Master’s degree in biology and applied ecology, focused on agroecological issues such as impacts of pesticides on biodiversity. He also examined landscape scale impacts of land use change during studies in Denmark and the United Kingdom.
On to the United States to attain his PhD at the University of Maine, John’s research explored the continental scale impacts of pesticides on biodiversity, impacts of scale and changes in land use and climate on agricultural ecosystems, in the Midwestern Great Plains.
John travelled and worked in a range of sectors around the world, including research and policy with intergovernmental organisations – the Center for International Forestry Research, International Union for Conservation of Nature, and United Nations agencies – as well as strategic sustainability for natural resources companies.
“During the post-tsunami period in Aceh, Indonesia, I served as the Environmental Recovery Coordinator with the Office of the UN Recovery Coordinator for Aceh and Nias, and with IUCN on the Mangroves for the Future Initiative.”
Meanwhile, in Papua New Guinea, Mr. Poulsen and his team play a major role in supporting UNDP’s work towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
“At the core, UNDP’s partnership with government agencies helps to steer the country towards a sustainable development trajectory to balance various pressures - from the need for economic development to benefit the vast majority of poor communities, while also adapting to the increasing climate change impacts and disaster risks,” said Mr. Poulsen.
The responsibility to lead a team comes with a demanding workload, but there is room for leisure. In his free time Mr. Poulsen enjoys playing tennis, swimming and being around nature as often as possible.
“My main humble drive or motivation is, ultimately, to contribute to more sustainable and integrated management of natural resources and enhancing the livelihoods of vulnerable communities”.