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Stuart argues that the “natural capital” provided by the Mekong river needs to be considered alongside the economic returns of hydropower and a paradigm shift must be made in a way that provides a win-win for end consumers and the local custodians of the river.
Since the age of five, Stuart knew he wanted to be a “naturalist”. He started working for WWF in 1993, initially in Vietnam’s Bach Ma National Park and then in WWF-UK. As head of the WWF-UK Species Programme, which covered Asia, Latin American and Africa, he successfully devised a campaign which resulted in a change in UK law to make wildlife trade crime an arrestable offence.
In 2004, he moved to Indonesia to coordinate WWF’s Heart of Borneo campaign. Following his 3 years of work there, in February 2007, the governments of Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia signed a historic Declaration for the conservation of the Heart of Borneo - covering an area of 240,000 sq km of rainforest.
In 2008, he moved to Laos to take up the position of Conservation Director for WWF’s Greater Mekong Programme which covers Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. During this time he ensured the successful implementation of a WWF strategy to oppose the construction of Lower Mekong mainstream dams resulting in two downstream countries adopting WWF’s pre-stated position of a 10 year delay in dam construction. He also led the team that convinced stakeholders of the need for a Mekong regional programme under the Global Environment Facility, which after 2 years of sustained work, leveraged over US$150 million for conservation in the Mekong region.