Guest Speakers

We are delighted to have the following esteemed guests attending the 15th Small Islands of the World Conference on Kangaroo Island as our guest speakers.

The Honorable Christopher J Loeak

christopher-loeak-photoChristopher Loeak was President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands – one of only four low-lying coral atoll nations in the world – between 2012 and 2016 and is a Iroij (traditional chief) of the Ralik Island Chain.

Born in 1952 on Ailinglaplap Atoll, Loeak attended the Marshall Islands High school before going on to study at the Hawaii Pacific College and Gozaga University’s School of Law in the United States.

Loeak was first elected to the Nitijela (Parliament) in 1985. During a long parliamentary career he has served as Minister of Justice, Minister of Social Services, and Minister-in-Assistance (Vice President), and remains a Senator for Ailinglaplap Atoll. Loeak also served as the Vice President of the Third Constitutional Convention, and is currently chairing preparations for the Fourth Constitutional Convention which will be held in February 2017. After an eight year deadlock in talks, he was also part of the team that negotiated the extension of the United States’ military lease of parts of Kwajalein Atoll which is home to the Ronald Reagan Missile Defense Test Site.

As President, Loeak established the Marshall Islands as a world leader in the fight against climate change. In 2013 he hosted the biggest Pacific Islands Leaders’ Meeting in history that resulted in the Majuro Declaration for Climate Leadership which was personally presented to the UN Secretary-General, and in 2014 he attracted worldwide media attention when he released a “video address to the world” in front of a sea wall he had built in front of his family home.

Throughout 2015 Loeak travelled extensively in the lead-up to the COP21 Paris Climate Conference, including to personally meet with United States President Barack Obama, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and French President Francois Hollande. The Marshall Islands secret cultivation and then leadership of a ‘High Ambition Coalition’ of more than 100 progressive countries in Paris ultimately proved pivotal, with many key elements of the Paris Agreement first introduced into the negotiating text by Loeak’s team. The New Yorker labelled this “an unprecedented feat”, with The New York Times running a front page feature story on the Marshall Islands’ leadership, and Rolling Stone writing that “perhaps the greatest surprise in Paris was that one of the most important players in the negotiations came from one of the world’s smallest nations: the Marshall Islands”.

During his Presidency, Loeak also oversaw an enormous uptake in renewable energy across the Marshall Islands with more than ninety percent of the vast outer islands completely solarized. Loeak is married to Lieom Anono Loeak. They have three children and ten grandchildren.



Godfrey Baldacchino PhD (Warwick), BA PGCE (Malta), MA (The Hague)

Pro-Rector (International Development & Quality Assurance), University of Malta, MALTA

UNESCO Co-Chair (Island Studies & Sustainability), University of Prince Edward Island, Canada & University of Malta, Malta

President, International Small Islands Studies Association (ISISA)

Designate Executive Editor, Small States & Territories (on-line journal)

Editor Emeritus, Island Studies Journal (ISSN: 1715-2593)

Chair, Scientific Board, Research Network of Island Universities (RETI)

margiprideaux_11-2015Dr Margi Prideaux is a negotiator, author and wildlife policy specialist. She has a PhD on the development of international wildlife policy & law.

Margi’s research focus in on governance policy relating to international species conservation, regional policy development, and the role of global civil society in ‘track one’ and ‘track two’ international diplomacy.

Over a period of 27 years, she has participated in 20 different international wildlife conservation processes, has worked with a number of conservation organisations and has served as Marine Policy Advisor to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS). She has written dozens of non-governmental and inter-governmental reports, policy papers and presentations on international species conservation and civil society involvement in conservation governance.

Margi is a Research Associate with the Indo-Pacific Governance Research Centre, a Member of the IUCN WCPA Transboundary Conservation Specialist Group and the Joint IUCN SSC/WCPA Marine Mammal Taskforce, and serves as the Policy and Negotiations Director for Wild Migration.Her forthcoming book, Global Environmental Governance, Civil Society and Wildlife: Birdsong After the Storm, will be released by Routledge in March 20.

Dr Claire Ellis has worked for over 35 years in tourism. Cclaire-ellis-corp-photo-3laire grew up in Tasmania, but also spent 14 years living and working overseas, mostly in Indonesia, Vietnam & USA. She worked extensively with expedition cruise ships travelling to remote locations in eastern Indonesia and her island fascination resulted in her chartering vessels and developing new tour itineraries.

More recently, Claire worked in State Government, as an academic and researcher and now as a consultant, mostly in Australia. She focuses on destinations and tourism experiences and their capacity to contribute to sustainable long term outcomes for communities and the wider region.

Based in Tasmania, Claire has worked closely with Kangaroo Island’s growing tourism industry for the last six years.

angelapicAngela Hazebroek is a strategic and social planner and a highly respected community engagement practitioner.

Fourteen years ago she co-founded Urban and Regional Planning Solutions (URPS).

Angela got to know Kangaroo Island and its people beyond her holiday experiences when she worked with community and business leaders to prepare the Kangaroo Island Integrated Tourism Strategy in 2006.

She broadened this association when she was engaged to prepare a Community Housing Strategy for the Kangaroo Island Futures Authority in partnership with the Kangaroo Island Community Housing Association and local service providers.

In 2015 Angela assisted the Commissioner for Kangaroo Island to facilitate four community forums to provide input on the priority initiatives for strengthening the Island’s economy.