child plays in a canoe
Tavurvur Volcano Sunset, Papua New Guinea © Joseph Orsi

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Jacqueline Nen to Lead The Nature Conservancy’s Papua New Guinea Country Program

Sustainable development advocate has deep experience working with disadvantaged rural communities in Papua New Guinea to create sustainable jobs

Papua New Guinea Director
Jacqueline Nen Papua New Guinea Director © Courtesy Jacqueline Nen

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is thrilled to announce Jacqueline Nen as Country Director of its Papua New Guinea program, an organization committed to protecting the nation’s natural resources in partnership with government, local groups and the private sector.

Nen is a prominent Papua New Guinean leader and brings extensive experience working with diverse stakeholders on ecological and social initiatives that deliver sustainable, equitable benefits. Most recently, she served as the Community Development Manager for the Communities and Social Responsibility Department of Porgera Joint Venture. In this role, Nen worked with rural villages impacted by mining operations through new programs that advance sustainable livelihoods and improve food security and freshwater access.

“Jacqueline’s collaborative leadership style and her deep connections with community groups, businesses and government across Papua New Guinea will be transformative for our in-country conservation work,” said Jennifer Morris, CEO of The Nature Conservancy. “Under Jacqueline’s leadership, TNC will strengthen partnerships and scale efforts to protect the nation’s incredible biodiversity, while supporting communities who depend on healthy natural resources."

As part of the world-renowned Coral Triangle, Papua New Guinea is home to some of the most intact and biodiverse ecosystems in the world, as well as Indigenous cultures that have existed for tens of thousands of years. Although it is rich in timber, fish, mineral deposits and other natural resources, the Pacific Island nation of nearly 9 million people faces significant challenges in growing its economy for the benefit of all citizens.

Millions of people living in rural communities in Papua New Guinea are not engaged in the formal economy and heavily depend on coastal mangrove forests, local fishing grounds and other natural resources for subsistence food security and income. Climate change impacts and unsustainable development threaten many of these communities, and while women have an important role to play in leading conservation efforts to stem environmental damage, they often face limited access to leadership opportunities.

“Throughout my career, I have been driven by my passions for both economic empowerment and gender equity through sustainable resource management,” Nen said. “Whether here in Papua New Guinea or elsewhere in the world, these values are at the heart of TNC’s mission for nature and people. I am honored to join this global organization and look forward to advancing equitable conservation progress in my country.”

In addition to her sustainable development work, Nen is the first Papua New Guinean to publish a suspense-thriller novel, released earlier this year. Prior to her tenure with Porgera Venture Fund, she worked to develop business opportunities for the Porgera Women’s Development Association. Nen is originally from Southern Highlands Province and lives in Port Moresby.

The Nature Conservancy in Papua New Guinea

Founded 25 years ago, TNC’s Papua New Guinea program has advanced innovative conservation initiatives directly linked to sustainable development. For example, on the small island of Manus in the nation’s northern maritime reaches, TNC has worked over the past decade in helping 10,000 fishers from eight communities to establish a tribal network that can better protect fishing grounds and secure a greater profit share for locally harvested sea cucumbers, a delicacy exported to Asian markets such as Hong Kong.

Across Papua New Guinea, TNC is working with the women’s network Mangoro Market Meri to advance new opportunities for women to protect mangroves. These coastal forests are a globally critical store of blue carbon (carbon stored naturally by coastal wetlands and marine ecosystems) that also protect coastal villages in Papua New Guinea from storm damage and are home to species such as mudcrabs valued in local and foreign markets.

In addition, the highland tropical forests of Papua New Guinea have helped to advance TNC’s research in bioacoustics, where sound recordings of the forest are analyzed to determine animal species diversity. This emerging field shows promise in detecting declines in endangered species population levels — a potential indicator of habitat disruption caused by human activity.

“Over the last two decades, Jacqueline's collaborative leadership style and science-based approach has helped not only to create lasting change across communities in Papua New Guinea, but also to break through male-dominated industries. We are thrilled to welcome her as Papua New Guinea’s Country Director and look forward to supporting Jacqueline in elevating our work in the region,” said Will McGoldrick, TNC’s Regional Managing Director for Asia Pacific.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries and territories: 38 by direct conservation impact and 34 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.