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Rufino Varea

PICAN Regional Director


Rufino comes from Oinafa Village in Rotuma and is a regional specialist in marine ecotoxicology and environmental risk assessment. During his time in Academia, he was the inaugural recipient of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) – Development Research for Oceania Pipeline Award. He completed his Fellowship with the East-West Center and the Pacific Islands Development Program in Hawaii. Rufino was also the inaugural recipient of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) Blue Charter Fellowship. He conducted his research at the University of Adelaide in Australia and was one of only 26 Early Career Researchers globally selected as an ACU-British Council Commonwealth Futures Climate Research Cohort Fellow.

Rufino's work and interests focus on the impact of the climate crisis and pollution on Indigenous and Coastal Communities in the Pacific. He has actively participated in various United Nations Multilateral Environmental Agreements, Conventions, and Entities, such as the Climate Conference of Parties and the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for an Effective Plastics Treaty. Rufino provides scientific and technical support to Pacific negotiators.

He is a published author of numerous peer-reviewed research papers and two book chapters and widely collaborated on many national and regional projects focusing on climate change and pollution. Through his expertise, Rufino has organized capacity-building trainings, regional dialogues, and programs to assist grassroots communities and government ministries in Pacific Island Countries. He has also been involved in promoting the voices and concerns of youth and Indigenous Peoples through various platforms like the Indigenous Peoples Major Group and the Children and Youth Major Group under the United Nations Environment Programme, including the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change and YOUNGO under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Rufino recently served as a Steering Committee Member of the Scientists' Coalition and is an Ambassador for the Deep Ocean Stewardship Initiative. He is also a member of the Pacific Ocean Litter Youth Project, the Aotearoa Plastic Pollution Alliance, the BreakFreeFromPlastics (BFFP) Global Movement, and the Indigenous Peoples Caucus.

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