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Rowena P. Watson, PhD.

Division Chief | Wildlife Conservation and Combating Wildlife Trafficking, U.S. Dept. of State

Dr. Rowena Watson has two decades of experience working in government, foreign policy, academia and the private sector on environmental and national security issues, with a focus on wildlife. She is currently the Division Chief for Wildlife Conservation and Combating Wildlife Trafficking with the U.S. Department of State, in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, Office of Conservation and Water. Her portfolio encompasses a broad range of wildlife and nature crimes issues globally, regionally and bilaterally where the United States is engaged. In her work she regularly collaborates with other governments, NGOs, international organizations and the private sector. She has extensive expertise combating trafficking in natural resources (wildlife and timber trafficking, and crimes associated with illegal mining and IUU fishing) and addressing environmental challenges in the foreign policy arena, including sustainable development.

Rowena has extensive diplomatic experience in multilateral negotiations, serving in leadership roles on U.S. delegations to multiple forums and conventions such as the Minamata Convention on Mercury, the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Committee on Forestry, the International Tropical Timber Organization, the United Nations Forum on Forests, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. She has a strong science background (focused on zoonotic diseases and bioterrorism) with a doctorate in veterinary pathology. Before joining the civil service at the U.S. State Department in 2011, she was a freelance consultant and an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Diplomacy Fellow for scientists in policy making.


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