Promoting Sustainable Resource Management and the Protection of Fiji's Environment Through Law

Fiji Environmental Law Association

Fiji Environmental Law Association Team

The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Workshop on designing a curriculum for Fisheries Training in Fiji, held at IUCN Vei Tiri Conference Room on June 29, 2017 ©Watisoni Lalavanua/WCS

gina zheng - International internship - New colombo plan scholar

I am incredibly grateful for having had the opportunity to intern as a legal research assistant with the Fiji Environmental Law Association as a New Colombo Plan Fellow.

The New Colombo Plan is an Australian government initiative which seeks to build Australian knowledge of the Indo-Pacific region by supporting Australian students to study and intern in the region. When I was awarded the fellowship, I knew immediately that this was a chance to pursue my passions in sustainable development in the Pacific region, and fast-track opportunities to engage with both the sector and region. Where used correctly, the law can play such a powerful tool in the world of environmental management and sustainable development. As such, I chose to pursue an internship with FELA, as a reputable legal organisation leading policy work on the efficacious use of the law to not only protect the environment, but also build capacity within local communities to pursue sustainable objectives.

During my internship with FELA, I have had the chance to witness first-hand FELA’s work in support of the development of efficacious legal and policy reform. In engaging with the development of FELA’s scoping papers and discussions papers, I have received great insight into the process of policy development. More importantly, in interning as a legal research assistant, I have been able to directly apply my academic legal studies on environmental law and international law to upcoming legal and policy reforms in Fiji. It has been an honour having the 

Thank you to the team at FELA for their warmth and support over the course of my internship. In particular, special thank you goes to Patricia Parkinson for her support while I have been interning at FELA. From her invaluable constructive feedback on my research and writing, to our insightful conversations about Fijian socio-legal systems and way of life, and of course, to all her wonderful suggestions on getting involved in the local, Fijian community, Patricia has certainly made my time at FELA all the more meaningful.

My time interning as a legal research assistant at FELA has definitely been a memorable experience that I am very grateful for, and am certainly sad to be concluding!

What I will miss most though, will be buying the freshly cut coconuts larger than the size of my head from the local coconut man every week! 

opportunity to lend insight pertinent and relevant matters to Fiji’s environmental context, in providing research support on environmental issues which sit at the fore-front of contemporary policy discussions. Specifically, I have had the chance to contribute to the development of FELA’s upcoming discussion paper on an integrated oceans management policy, which seeks to inform the development of Fiji’s upcoming national policy on sustainable oceans management. 

A highlight of my internship was definitely the opportunity to attend a conference run by the Wildlife Conservation Society on designing a curriculum for fisheries training, on behalf of FELA. This was an incredibly unique learning experience it provided me with the opportunity to engage and converse with local government members from the Ministry of Fisheries and FLMMA networks to deepen my understanding of the social and legal infrastructures that hinder the effective sustainable management of fisheries. The conference also gave me greater insight into the Fijian cultural and context, and how that necessarily shapes legal and policy frameworks. And, of course, partaking in the talanoa and opportunity to try kava for the first time at the conclusion of the workshop, was definitely a great insight into the Fijian way of life!