Iain Orr

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Iain Orr "is the founder of BioDiplomacy. He worked in the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) from 1968-2002, mostly dealing with China (including being Consul-General in Shanghai, 1987-1990). He negotiated Environment Charters with the UK's Overseas Territories (OTs) and managed an FCO fund (£500,000 per year) for environmental work in the OTs...

"Iain is a founder partner of the Global Islands Network (GIN) and a consultant to the World Land Trust. He was an Executive Producer of a multi-media resource pack on the UK's OTs – A Breath of Fresh Air – which was Highly Commended by the Geographical Association (2002). He is working on a Dictionary of Environmental Quotations and has extensive collections on many environmental and island themes. He is looking for collaborators for an ambitious Cosmopolitan London project, linked to the 2012 Olympics. " [1]


"A Yorkshire-born Scot who studied philosophy at St Andrews and Oxford, Iain joined the FCO, working first on Mongolia and China. Overseas postings to China (Beijing, Hong Kong and Consul-General Shanghai 1987-1990), Dublin, Wellington and Accra. In London he masterminded visits to the UK by Party Secretary-General Hu Yaobang, by Premier Zhao Ziyang and briefing for the 1986 State Visit to China. In 2000 set up the FCO’s Biodiversity Team; drafted and negotiated Environment Charters between the UK and its Overseas Territories; helped the UK negotiate protection for the Basking Shark and oppose the resumption of commercial whaling. Managed project funds of £1m. p.a., including UK support for the Great Apes Survival Project. Was member of UK World Heritage Committee.

"In UK Embassy Beijing 1971-4 negotiated several zoological exchanges. Back in London, accompanied Chinese delegation (bringing giant pandas Jing Jing and Jia Jia to London Zoo) to visit Sir Peter Scott and Gerald Durrell.

"As Deputy Political Adviser in Hong Kong (1978-81) negotiated new air, ferry, train and road services with China; and the resettlement overseas of boat refugees from Vietnam. Helped launch WWF’s HK branch.

"Organised 1999 conference - A Breath of Fresh Air – on environmental issues in the UK’s Overseas Territories; executive producer of related multi-media resource pack (Geographical Association’s Highly Commended Award in 2002).

"BioDiplomacy is the consultancy Iain founded in 2002. Co-founder Global Islands Network. Arranged UK visits for Prof. Wang Sung (Edinburgh Medallist 2003) and for environmental TV teams from China. Keynote speech Islands Conference, Taiwan 2004. Member IUCN islands taskforce; advisory council World Land Trust; council UKOT Conservation Forum. Trustee Integrated Water Resources International. Consultant Convention on Migratory Species. Article on Chagos islanders on www.openDemocracy.net 5 June 2006. Written evidence to Commons Environmental Audit Committee reports on DFID (August 2006) and FCO (also oral evidence, 24 January 2007). Contributor to www.chinadialogue.net.; co-author article on sub-national island jurisdictions in Round Table Sept 2006;articles in 70 Wonders of China (Thames & Hudson – in press); preparing a Dictionary of Environmental Quotations." [2]

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch articles


  1. Iain Orr, opendemocracy, accessed June 8, 2009.
  2. BioDiplomacy CV, organizational web page, accessed April 6, 2012.