Paul Harrison, former global wildlife programme lead at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has taken on the role of Conservation Finance Director for the Elephant Protection Initiative (EPI).

Paul, who will be based in the UK, is a nature conservationist, geographer and long-standing environment sector professional, will be bringing a unique political, financing and technical strengths to the Elephant Protection Initiative through his broad professional experiences in wildlife conservation.

As the EPI’s Conservation Finance Director, Paul will focus on enhancing financial and technical support for the delivery of the African Elephant Action Plan, agreed by all African Elephant range States in March 2010, by channeling funding to National Elephant Action Plans developed by range States under the EPI.

His primary focus will be to raise the spotlight on elephant conservation in the context of taking a wider approach, making the links with the internationally agreed Sustainable Development Goals and recognizing the survival of elephants in Africa goes beyond the species alone, to issues around community benefits, public finance, foreign direct investment and security.

Paul Harrison has over 16 years work experience in Africa, Asia and the U.K. in field conservation, project and programme management, conservation finance and policy. Before this role, he has worked as a senior U.N. official and as founder and director of a highly regarded conservation-focused consulting company. A Swahili speaker, Harrison previously worked in Africa as an estate manager of an agricultural business in Tanzania, as a field researcher and a co-founder of ‘Sound and Fair’, a sustainable forest management enterprise.

John Stephenson, CEO of Stop Ivory, which jointly serves alongside Conservation International as the EPI Secretariat said: “Paul’s extensive international experience in securing essential financial resources to support and address complex issues such as enhancing investments into biodiversity conservation and law enforcement, and in combatting wildlife and forest crime and illegal wildlife trade worldwide, is critical for the EPI as its Member States and the co-Secretariat focus more fully on the implementation of National Elephant Action Plans. A great deal has been achieved since the EPI’s inception in 2014, and Paul’s intuition and know-how will be invaluable to this next phase of our work to secure a sustainable future for Africa’s elephants.”

“Working alongside African governments, NGOs and bilateral partners to deliver on the African Elephant Action Plan through individual National Elephant Action Plans is crucial if we are to protect African elephant populations, and securing ongoing political support and the financial resources to enable the implementation of these plans is a high priority for the EPI. These are structured plans that allow us to take holistic approaches to elephant conservation, tackling social, economic, enforcement and ecological management issues as one. I look forward to working and partnering with many governments, financiers and other interested parties to help create a safe and secure future for Africa’s elephants.” said Paul.