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Stephen Harris

Stephen Harris leads the international engagement for the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance (CCOA), which aims to reinforce efforts to grapple with marine plastics pollution through collaboration across the 53 member countries. He is based in Wellington, reflecting a CCOA priority on partnering with small island developing states. His interest in oceans plastic stems from a life-long involvement in sailing, diving and sea swimming. This led him in 2017 to found, in a private capacity, Maui's Ark, a forum to coordinate cross-sectoral, international action to protect and promote healthy oceans: www.mauisark.org 

Until beginning his two-year CCOA secondment to the UK Government, Stephen was Director-General of South and South East Asian Affairs for seven years at the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade; was previously Deputy Director of Middle East and African Affairs; served as Deputy Ambassador in Berlin (2004-08); and established the Trade Policy Liaison Unit to coordinate stakeholder input into free trade agreements and economic diplomacy. 

Before beginning this diplomatic career in 2001 Stephen worked as a journalist for 20 years, for newspapers and radio in New Zealand and Germany and as a Germany correspondent for daily newspapers in the US, Asia and Australia. Stephen was Executive Assistant (Media) to New Zealand’s Minister for Trade Negotiations, Commerce and Industry from 1990-92, during which time New Zealand reprioritised its trade policy towards Asia and the Pacific Rim.

Stephen has a Bachelor of Arts in politics and history from Auckland University and BA with First Class Honours in public administration and international relations from Victoria University of Wellington, NZ. In 1989-90 he studied development economics and government at Harvard University as a Frank Knox Fellow. 

Research while living in Germany led to his book ‘Under a Bomber’s Moon: The True Story of Two Airmen at War Over Germany’, (published NZ and Australia in 2009 and the UK in 2011.) www.underabombersmoon.com