Farewell to Doug Watkins, Chief Executive of EAAFP Secretariat

Mr. Doug Watkins at the EAAFP Secretariat © EAAFP Secretariat

Today is the last working of Mr. Doug Watkins, Chief Executive of EAAFP Secretariat. Below is a farewell message from Doug.

“It’s just over 3 years that I have had the pleasure of working with the Secretariat team to support the EAAF Partners with the implementation of the EAAFP Strategic Plan. With the successful convening of MOP11, delayed because of Covid, it’s now time for a new Chief Executive to step up.

The Secretariat has an excellent team with Hyeseon Do as Senior Programme Officer, Vivian Fu, Senior Communications Officer; Hyojung Yoo the Finance Officer (seconded from Incheon Metropolitan), Yoon Kyung Lee as External Relations Manager (currently on maternity leave) and Yeonhee Ahn as Deputy (also seconded from Incheon Metropolitan). The Secretariat also has several additional staff (Yeonah Ku, Jisun Lee) on contract and several interns that work in the various teams.

Covid had a significant impact on how the Secretariat worked for the Partners. It limited international travel and in response the Secretariat greatly increase its use of the internet to convene online meetings.

The Flyway Site Network of internationally important sites for migratory waterbirds forms core of the work of the EAAFP. The Site Network has now grown to 152 sites in 19 countries of the Flyway. However, there are hundreds of additional internationally important wetlands for migratory waterbirds in the EAAFP. I encourage Partners to identify additional wetland sites to be nominated for the Flyway Site Network.

The Secretariat has taken an active role in providing input to the development by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) called “Regional Flyway Initiative”. This initiative will enable the EAAFP Government Partners (in eligible countries) to implement actions for the conservation on internationally important wetlands for migratory waterbirds. These activities will not only address the ecology of the sites, but also address the interactions of local communities that depend on these wetlands.”


Mr. Robb Kaler, Immediate past Chair of EAAFP delivered his tribute to Doug for his leadership to the EAAFP.  

“Doug has over 30 years of international experience in working on migratory waterbirds and wetland conservation in our flyway and his extensive knowledge and enormous list of contacts across the Flyway have made him a key player.

Doug was one of the original team working with the Australian Government towards the development of the EAAFP concept as a Type II initiative during the World Summit of Sustainable Development in 2002, which later officially established the EAAFP in 2006.

Doug’s involvement in the Flyway began while working for the Australasian Wader Study Group (AWSG) from 1993 to 1995.

Doug then moved on wearing the hat of Wetlands International between 1995 and 2013.

Following his role with Wetlands International, Doug worked with Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) secretariat as EAAF Coordinator for its Arctic Migratory Bird Initiative (AMBI) between 2018 and 2019.

Doug’s involvement in the Partnership ranges from Chair of EAAFP Monitoring Task Force, past Chair of Yellow Sea Task Force to being a member of the Management Committee and he was instrumental in the drafting the EAAFP Strategic Plans including the latest Strategic Plan 2019-2028.

Doug’s strong experience and management of a diverse group of partners has been crucial to the implementation of the EAAFP’s 10-year strategic plan. Doug worked hard to align and promote activities in the Flyway to address points laid out in the plan. The 32-page Secretariat report is a testimony to the outstanding work that Doug and the Secretariat staff, including the Science Unit.

Thanks to Doug leading the EAAFP Secretariat and the Partnership since 2019, we have a bright future. Please join me in thanking Doug for his amazing contributions to the Flyway Partnership, both as the Chief Executive, as well as all of his work prior to joining the Secretariat. I am hoping that like many others that have left leadership roles in the Flyway, that have a tendency to continue to show up at these MOPs where they continue to provide invaluable contributions. I look forward to our paths crossing in the future.”

The Secretariat is working on the process of new CE recruitment. The staff at the Secretariat will maintain the work for the EAAFP with support from Management Committee.

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