Avatar photo

Simon Atkinson

Deputy Head of Mission, Cape Town

Part of UK in South Africa

25th January 2013 Cape Town, South Africa

WWF secondment helping develop new policy area

Guest Blog from Suzanne Carter, Climate Change Officer

Many UK staff take a secondment into another government department over the course of their careers as civil servants but is there a way to replicate this exposure (on a smaller scale) for Locally Engaged Staff? My line manger thought it was at least worth a try!wwf

As the Consulate-General’s climate change officer, we had been asked to develop a new policy area on resource security – seeing how key resources like food, water and energy might be limited in a climate change scenario and the inter-linkages between the various resources.

The World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) were also starting a project on the very same topic so the secondment had the purpose of exposing me to their thinking, building closer links with one of the leading environmental organisations and giving me the space to think about these issues from a new angle. I also got invited to their AGM where former President Thabo Mbeki gave a fascinating account of some of the challenges in Africa regarding the environment and macro politics.

South Africa is already a water stressed country so the resource security debate is very much centred on this issue. In 2013 our team will be looking to encourage thinking about how this might be further constrained under future climate change and how it links to decision making in other resource sectors such as energy choices where water use for different technologies could play a vital role.

In terms of the secondment the plan is to complete a mini task for them on climate risks and vulnerabilities of the water food and energy nexus.

I have so far worked three Fridays at the local WWF office in Cape Town and have really enjoyed the experience and access to a different way of thinking.

All in all – if you are thinking of a new challenge for yourself for 2013 – consider the benefits of a secondment and the refreshed thinking it can give!

About Simon Atkinson

Simon Atkinson was born and spent the first 9 years of his life in New Zealand, before his family moved to the less leafy suburbs of Wallington, South London. After…

Simon Atkinson was born and spent the first 9 years of his life in New Zealand, before his family moved to the less leafy suburbs of Wallington, South London. After university at Leeds and 4 years teaching English and working for NGOs in Europe and South America, Simon joined the UK Foreign Office. His first overseas posting was in India, where he was a political officer covering issues like counter-proliferation and the relationship between India and its neighbours. He was also the Commonwealth Games Attaché during Delhi’s 2010 Games.

Cape Town is his second and current posting. His role here is dual hatted – as Deputy Consul General, he supports the Consul General manage the office, and as the Head of the Political Team, he covers the whole gambit of South African policy (though being based in Cape Town means this is heavily focused on domestic policies and Parliament).

Simon is married to Gina, who also works for the Foreign Office. They enjoy being in South Africa, as both a fascinating country to cover politically and wonderful place to live, allowing them to pursue their passion for the outdoors and perfect their ability to ‘braai’ (not that they’re under any illusion about how often they’ll get to demonstrate this skill once they return to the UK)!