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Another one! Happy 4-year work anniversary, Ellis!

Ellis Mackenzie presenting at the Australasian Aid Conference in 2022.

Ellis Mackenzie joined Sustineo in June 2019, fresh out of graduating from the Australian National University (ANU). Ellis arrived with a keen interest in rural development and natural resource management borne out of the completion of his Honours studies focused on the social and environmental impacts of Chinese investment in Cambodia.

Over the last four years, Ellis has built on this interest and established himself as a key part of delivering and driving Sustineo’s expanded range of agricultural and rural development, climate resilience, and payment for ecosystem services-based projects in the Pacific.

Over this period, he has been a key part of delivering multiple projects in partnership with the ANU Institute for Climate, Energy and Disaster Solutions (ICEDS), including:

  • Conducting a social network analysis and overseeing monitoring and evaluation of an Australian Centre for Agricultural Research funded climate smart agriculture project in Papua New Guinean farming communities
  • Undertaking interviews with experts on the link between climate change and food security in the Pacific as part of the Resilience Initiative for Food and Agriculture
  • Delivering an evaluation of the impact of Fairtrade certification on coffee farmers in Papua New Guinea (PNG) for Fairtrade Australia New Zealand.

More recently, Ellis has been a leading team member behind our growing practice in climate adaptation and voluntary carbon markets in the Pacific region. Specifically, this relates to research on governance factors required to establish a voluntary carbon trading scheme with smallholder coffee farmers in PNG and research for WWF on the challenges and opportunities of voluntary carbon markets in the Pacific as part of the Climate Resilient by Nature initiative.

Ellis is an organised, humble, and respectful colleague, with a penchant for asking (lots of) good questions. He is diligent, has a keen analytical mind, and is an excellent writer. He has a great sense of humour that is much appreciated by colleagues and partners, and makes it very fun to work with him.

From the start, he has shown a knack for developing relationships with partners in cross-cultural contexts – from the touch football fields of rural Fiji and Tonga, through to close relationships with our partners in PNG such as Anglo Pacific Research and the National Agricultural Research Institute. Our partners in PNG have very much recognised this – affectionally referring to Ellis as ‘boy-man’. Ellis’ approach to partnership building recently culminated in co-publishing a journal article on designing tailored climate information services to enable more equitable access to climate and weather information in PNG.

Outside of project contributions, Ellis he has been a keen advocate for a workplace culture that emphasises staff wellness and discussions on work-life balance. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, he took on the role of managing our staff wellness survey and facilitating monthly discussions around how the team were travelling.

After famously (at least within Sustineo) missing an international flight on his first trip to the Pacific (why not find an excuse to stay in Fiji for another day?), Ellis has developed in leaps and bounds. Reflecting his professional development in the research consulting space, Ellis was promoted to Senior Consultant earlier this year and the additional responsibilities and leadership opportunities are already looking good on him! Well done Ellis on all you have achieved over the last 4 years!