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JNCC welcomes Gemma Harper as interim Chief Executive

News Item 2021

Dr Gemma Harper OBE took up her new position as interim Chief Executive of JNCC on 1 April 2021.

Gemma joins JNCC with nearly 20 years of experience across the UK Civil Service. Most recently, she led work to protect the global ocean as Deputy Director of Marine policy in Defra. She was awarded an OBE for services to the marine environment in the 2021 New Year Honours. Gemma was Defra’s Deputy Race Champion. During summer 2020, Gemma was also co-director of the Food Vulnerability Directorate, as part of the UK government’s COVID-19 response. The directorate won the Civil Service Diversity and Inclusion award for Impact on the Citizen. Last year, Gemma was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. Gemma is founder and co-chair of the Civil Service Network for Nature (N4N), whose mission is to connect civil servants to celebrate nature.

As momentum gathers in this 'Super Year' for nature, Gemma joins JNCC as it works with the four nations of the UK to showcase the UK’s scientific knowledge and expertise in nature conservation across the globe. This joint approach will maximise the UK’s profile and impact through the UK’s Presidency of the G7 group of nations, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) COP15 in China, and the UK’s Presidency of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP26 in Glasgow.

Speaking on taking up the post, Gemma said:

"For 30 years JNCC has been at the heart of nature conservation in the UK, our Overseas Territories and around the world. I am delighted to be appointed as JNCC’s interim Chief Executive in its anniversary year.

Given the unparalleled opportunities in 2021 to tackle biodiversity loss and the climate crisis, it is the perfect time to join JNCC. It is my absolute privilege to lead this unique, world-class, science-based organisation.

Evidence is in my DNA – I bring my love of nature and passion for inclusion – and I am hugely excited about JNCC continuing to be at the heart of conservation in this super year for nature."

Professor Colin Galbraith, Chairman of JNCC added:

"I am delighted that Gemma has joined us and I look forward to working with her now, especially when the opportunity and need to help nature conservation has never been greater. She brings a wealth of experience to JNCC and real enthusiasm to work across the UK and internationally with our partner bodies at this critical time for nature."

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