Cooper Schouten. Photo: Paul Dymond

Apiculture (beekeeping) specialist Cooper Schouten was a participant in the 2018 Australia-Papua New Guinea Emerging Leaders Dialogue.

Tell us about your current work and the path you took to get there?

I am a second year PhD candidate at Southern Cross University and my research passion is using beekeeping to empower marginalised groups in developing countries. I aspire to be a master of beekeeping and specialise in various sectors of livestock systems in agricultural development programs, extension and research. My background is in Environmental Science, but I have always been passionate about working with rural communities to find local solutions to local problems. I believe in to trying to put people before things, decentralisation, enabling and empowering those poorer and weaker, valuing and working on what matters to them and learning from communities rather than striving to always teach.

Why were you interested in being part of the Aus-PNG Emerging Leaders Dialogue?

Being involved and passionate about Australia’s aid program, it was an opportunity too good to pass up! Papua New Guineans know best their strategic interests and priorities for aid and development programs. Having the chance to listen and discuss these priorities and challenges with 20 young PNG professionals and another 19 Australians passionate about PNG, was an invaluable experience, both personally in the friendships made and professionally in the perspectives and knowledge shared.

Participants speaking at the 2018 Australia-Papua New Guinea Emerging Leaders Dialogue. Photo: Paul Dymond

What projects are you working on at the moment?

Cooper Schouten (centre) with colleagues during fieldwork in PNG’s Eastern Highlands. Photo: Market Development Facility

I am working towards finishing my PhD thesis in coming months and I am coordinating a number of beekeeping programs with the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research with partners in Papua New Guinea and Fiji.

What ideas do you have for building stronger ties between PNG and Australia?

Positive media focusing on PNG-Australia partnerships and programs in both countries would be a great starting point in highlighting the valuable outcomes of the work being done and the friendships that exist. Building local leadership and management skills across all sectors of PNG’s public service requires dedicated people and genuine, lasting partnerships that lead by example in sharing their knowledge and skills.



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About the Author

Cooper Schouten - Apiculture Development Specialist and PhD Candidate - Lowy Institute

Cooper Schouten

Apiculture Development Specialist and PhD Candidate

Cooper Schouten is an Apicultural Development Professional, with experience working in PNG with development organisations to support projects in beekeeping and honey production. Cooper also coordinates research programs in PNG and Fiji with the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research. He holds a Bachelor of Environmental Science with Honours from Southern Cross University, where he is a casual academic and second year PhD candidate.