After some months in Australia’s southeast from January through April, six weeks in the Republic of Korea from May on, and two weeks in China in late June, here is a bit of a story about what I have been up to as part of my internship project on policy analysis.
Through my internship at the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP) in the lead up to my PhD at the University of Queensland, I have been taking a very first step towards appraising policy effectiveness for migratory shorebirds. International policies for conservation of this group of birds have been emerging in our flyway since the 1970s, however, little is actually known about their performance. This internship project is primarily focused, as a first stage of policy evaluation, on a comprehensive survey of the international policy framework for shorebird conservation in the EAAF and its domestic implementation in four countries (i. e., Australia, China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea).
Working on policy analysis has taken me a bit around the flyway. My “field work” has involved talking to people and reviewing policy documents. This has been a very exciting and rewarding task as I have been visiting people in Canberra, Sydney, Seoul, Jeju Island, Nami Island, Seocheon, Incheon, Beijing, and Tianjin. Part of my methods include key stakeholder interviews, which are an approach to have quick access to important and complex information, gain knowledge of policy processes and development, identify variables shaping policy, establish roles of different actors, and obtain expert opinion on policy performance.
My target stakeholders have comprised senior officials from research institutions, NGOs, and national government agencies from Australia, the Republic of Korea, and China. So far I have completed over 30 interviews; most of them in person, but a few others have been held via Skype and over the phone. Most interviews have been conducted in English with a few having been conducted in other languages with the help of interpreters. These interviews have taken me to some of the top research institutions in the flyway, key government agencies, important NGOs, as well as to meet very interesting and influential people at national and local levels. As I must abide by best standards of ethics when conducting this type of research, no individual names or institutions can be disclosed, though I am enormously grateful to everyone involved.
In addition to all interviews, I have been fortunate enough to attend several events related to shorebird conservation. Upon my arrival in Songdo (Incheon, Republic of Korea), I took part in the International Migratory Bird Day celebration, where the EAAFP secretariat did a fantastic job to raise awareness about the conservation of migratory waterbirds, bringing together politicians, school children, and the community at large. Subsequently, I had the opportunity to attend in an observer capacity the advisory group meeting of WWF’s Yellow Sea Ecoregion Action Programme. With little time in between, I then headed to the meeting of the Republic of Korea’s National Shorebird Network. As part of this event, I had the opportunity to deliver a presentation about international policy and to briefly visit the Geum estuary. Just before leaving the Republic of Korea, I attended as an observer the US embassy’s NGO offsite. This event, held every year, aims to strengthen ties of international collaboration between the US and the Republic of Korea on environmental matters through the civil society. Last but not least, upon arriving in Beijing I headed to Tianjin to attend the launch of the Tianjin Wetland Volunteer Association with WWF and the Paulson Institute, where I had the chance to know about this great initiative.
Now it is finally time to be back in Brisbane, where I will be based at the University of Queensland as part of the Fuller Lab. The technical document from my internship project is expected to be available by August/September, stay tuned.
This project has been possible through funding provided by the Australian Government’s Department of the Environment, the University of Queensland, and the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership. Logistical support has been provided by WWF’s regional offices in Australia, China, and Japan. I am very thankful to staff in all those offices. Additionally, I would like to extend a huge thank you to the EAAFP secretariat crew based in Songdo, who were of great support during my time in the Republic of Korea.