Female, scientist, Latin American and fisheries expert, Dr. Ana Parma --the latest addition to the Board of The Nature Conservancy-- embodies many of the organization's top priorities today from closing the gender gap in sciences, to implementing global solutions to the world's conservation problems.
Dr. Parma, a world-class expert in fisheries modeling, assessment and management, brings to the Board a wealth of experience in her native Argentina as well as in the United States and Chile. She also brings optimism, enthusiasm, a shared vision of conservation, and the conviction that the Conservancy can do great things in Latin America.
The Conservancy in Argentina interviewed Dr. Parma who was happy to tell us what it means for her to join the Conservancy's Global Board.
With your background and skills, the Conservancy is fortunate to count you among its Board members. How did you come to join the Conservancy’s Board?
Ana: I studied at the University of Washington in Seattle, where I met Peter Kareiva --currently the Conservancy’s Chief Scientist-- and we kept in touch even after I returned to Argentina in 2000. Peter traveled several times to Patagonia and gave talks at the Patagonian National Center, where I work. We had many discussions about science, conservation and sustainable development, and about The Nature Conservancy. I found the Conservancy’s approach to conservation issues interesting, and more than that, I discovered that we have a shared vision of conservation. So when I was asked to serve as a member of its Board, I was really excited to be a part of the organization.
What are your expectations as a Board member, and what will you be doing?
Ana: This is the first time I’ve served on the Board of a non-profit, so it's a new and interesting experience. As the only marine scientist on the Board, I will definitely be engaging in scientific and marine conservation issues. I'll be joining the conservation committee, which focuses on technical topics. Our role is to look at the Conservancy’s projects and initiatives from a scientific perspective: What are the potential conservation impacts? Can we measure the achievements of the various programs? We also help ensure that projects have a sound scientific basis and a way of measuring results. Conservation that incorporates sustainable development demands a different way of working with science that tracks the impact of its actions in order to make appropriate adjustments as needed. The role of the science committee is to ensure that there is solid science behind the decisions that are made.
How does it feel to be an Argentinian in a global organization?
Ana: In this field, I feel more Latin American than Argentinean because I have worked extensively in fisheries in different Latin American countries and participated in several international commissions and panels on fisheries management. I think that my vast experience in the region gives me a better understanding of the impact that an international organization like The Nature Conservancy can have when working in countries like ours. Involving local people in our work is very important – as is listening and understanding local idiosyncrasies, customs, institutions, information flow, all of which can have a big impact on the ultimate success or failure of our work.
Why do you think the Conservancy’s work is important on a global level?
Ana: I believe it’s important to work at many levels – from working on-the-ground to improve conditions in small communities to influencing national governments and laws, to tackling issues like climate change that affect the entire world. Going to less developed countries and doing something that makes a positive impact is a big challenge. What makes the Conservancy unique is the way it integrates with and supports local efforts. Our work in Argentina is a great example. The Conservancy has agreements with research centers in Argentina and collaborates with researchers from the region and local people who best understand the peculiarities of local problems.
I’m happy to be there with eyes wide open to try to ensure that this is done properly. I hope to make a positive contribution, and basically, I’m very excited to be part of an organization that has such a positive effect on the ground.