SPC: Can you tell us about your background?
Dr Stuart Minchin: Most recently, I was working with Geoscience Australia, which is Australia’s national geoscience agency. I was in charge of the environmental geoscience division there, which involved everything from national mapping to Earth observation, groundwater… Prior to that I worked for Australia’s national science agency – The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). I started my career with the Victorian government, in charge of water information and water monitoring.
My background as a scientist is quite broad, and covers aquatic science, chemistry, aquatic biology and water science.
SPC: What attracted you to SPC?
SM: SPC is a very well-known institution in the Pacific, and what really attracted me is that I am about to turn 50 years old – And I wanted to find a role where I could contribute the most to making a difference, and SPC seemed like the ideal opportunity. With the challenges the Pacific faces around disasters, climate change, sustainable development, and the skills that I have, this seemed like the place where I could make the biggest difference.
SPC: What do you want to achieve for SPC and its members as Director-General?
SM: I want to ensure that SPC is seen as a trusted regional advisor to all of our member governments and provide the value that these member governments can really see tangibly, in helping them deal we the challenges that we face in the Pacific.
I am also a bit of a technocrat – I enjoy technology, new approaches and innovation – so I think that leading SPC into a new era where there are great challenges but so many opportunities to do things better that they have been done in the past is really exciting and energizing for me.
SPC: What will be your priorities for the first “100 days”?
SM: My first 100 days will be about listening a lot, listening initially to the staff of SPC to understand the work they do, the challenges they face, the opportunities they perceive in the region. I then want to reach out quickly to our member countries and territories, visit them, and see first-hand their challenges, and to hear how they currently work for SPC, how they have in the past and how they wish to in the future. What will be really important for me in the first 100 days is to build a clear understanding of the opportunities in front of us, and then acting quickly to address these opportunities.
SPC: And your ambition for the future?
SM: We won’t solve every problem in the Pacific, but I want to start a journey, so we can actually look forward to the sustainable development challenges and goals that can be reached in
this region in the longer-term. I think there is so much opportunity in the region, but also so many challenges. This is really the test-case for the planet: if we get this right in the Pacific, then there is hope for the rest of the world.