Iain Orr acts as UKOTCF’s Honorary Parliamentary Adviser. His long-term interest in islands and their environments came together in his final job at the FCO, towards the end of the 1990s. He joined what soon became the Environment Policy Department, and was responsible for drafting and negotiating the environment chapter of the 1999 White Paper on UK’s relationships with the UKOTs. He established the 1999 London conference A Breath of Fresh Air, and the multi-media educational package of the same name (which received the Geographical Association’s Highly Commended Award in 2002). He negotiated the 2001 Environment Charters between HMG and the Overseas Territories. In all these activities, he worked closely with UKOTCF, leading to several years of very successful collaboration between governmental and NGO bodies – including securing FCO financial support for the seabird restoration project on Ascension Island. In 2000, he set up FCO’s Biodiversity Team, and helped UK negotiate protection for the Basking Shark and oppose the resumption of commercial whaling. He managed project funds of £1m pa, including UK support for the Great Apes Survival Project, and was member of the UK World Heritage Committee.

His career in FCO (1968-2002) had a strong China focus, and Iain speaks and reads Chinese. His overseas postings included China (Beijing, Hong Kong and Consul-General Shanghai 1987-1990), Dublin, Wellington and Accra. In UK Embassy Beijing 1971-4 and later in London, he negotiated several zoological exchanges as well as political links. As Deputy Political Adviser in Hong Kong (1978-81, when Hong Kong was still a UK Dependent Territory), he negotiated new air, ferry, train and road services with China; and the resettlement overseas of boat refugees from Vietnam, as well as helping to launch WWF’s Hong Kong branch.

After retiring from the UK Diplomatic Service, in 2002 Ian established BioDiplomacy, a diplomatic/environmental consultancy, whose roles have included arranging visits for environmental TV teams from China. His island interests include being a Director of the Global Islands Network, and a member of the International Small Islands Studies Association, the IUCN islands taskforce, and the advisory council of the World Land Trust.

Iain is keen to continue to contribute his skills to conservation in the UKOTs through political analysis, reporting, negotiating and networking across governmental, commercial, academic, and campaigning contacts. These skills have been deployed effectively on developing and presenting evidence to House of Commons Select Committees, amongst other roles.