Paul Toni WWF-Australia: It is always inspiring when travelled to Heart of Borneo
Paul Toni, National Manager – Science, Policy and Government Partnerships, WWF Australia
If a day were more than 24 hours, perhaps Paul Toni is one of the happiest people ever in the world. A former lawyer, who has gone to a greener pasture with WWF-Australia
since 2004, said that he was always interested in the conservation of the environment and sustainable development.
“I have been with WWF-Australia since 2004. Previously I led efforts on Climate Change and Sustainable Development section, but since 2013 I'm responsible as National Manager on Science, Policy and Government Partnership.”
At the moment Paul is leading his team comprised of communications, conservation (timber, mining and oil palm market transformation), fundraising and marketing teams to run the Heart of Borneo (HoB) program, one of six WWF-Australia High Impact Initiatives, besides among others, the famous Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
“In WWF-Australia we work on fundraising for the HoB conservation projects. We meet Australian governments to advocate for their support for HoB. We engage Australian companies, particularly companies importing or using (or retailing) oil palm and timber, and mining, to advocate sustainable business operations; we’re ready to backup the HoB team with policy support if needed.”
Understanding that Australians are very interested in orang-utans, rhinos and other Bornean wildlife, WWF-Australia is doing fundraising appeal for HoB. In December 2013, approaching Christmas, the second fundraising trip for WWF-Australia supporters to travel to the Heart of Borneo was just launched. “The first one sold out very quickly, which shows how interested people are in Borneo.” Paul explained.
Despite his busy schedule, Paul spared his precious weekend to respond our interview. “To me this a very rewarding job because I am helping very dedicated people try to protect one of the most biodiverse and amazing places on earth while still allowing the people who live there to enjoy a better life in the future. The key challenge is not enough hours in the day!”
The multifaceted Heart of Borneo issues is requiring green economy strategy which allows balance between conservation and sustainable development in the area.
“Green economy strategy is just as important as the three HoB governments’ initiative which is a great example of a large-scale, multi-sector initiative featuring well-established national, provincial and district political leadership, supportive policy frameworks and governance structures, recognized plans of action, solutions-oriented engagement with the private sector and a trusting, cooperative relationship with local communities, indigenous peoples and civil society.”
It’s not just working behind the desk and meets people on suits and ties, Paul found it always inspiring when he travelled around Borneo and saw the amazing work that WWF is doing on the ground.
He smiled when asked his interesting story when he was in Borneo. “It was another great moment amongst other ones, when I was racing through the extremely hot and boggy Sebangau rainforest (in Central Kalimantan) to catch a glimpse of a female orangutan in the wild. I happened to see her throw a large branch at my colleague who was with me, while doing an extra-close up video-taping. It was so intimidating. Luckily it missed!”