Dr Hum Gurung is a relentless conservationist dedicated to ensuring communities are placed at the centre of environmental sustainability. He has dedicated his professional life to promoting environmental conservation and has become a respected ambassador for conservation between Nepal and Australia. In this capacity, he has provided and continues to seek opportunities to strengthen professional and volunteer engagement between the two countries. His environmental philosophy and world-leading research, along with his work as an influential administrator and global spokesman, have driven ongoing positive outcomes in the name of sustainability.
After completing high school, Dr Gurung studied civil engineering in Kathmandu. One day he saw a notice about the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) and his passion for conservation was sparked. He travelled to New Zealand to study Parks and Recreation and Tourism Management, where he completed both his Bachelor and Masters degree, and worked as a Conservation Officer and later Conservation Education and Extension Officer for ACAP, under the auspices of the National Trust for Nature Conservation in Nepal. In the late 1990’s he began working with the UN Development Program, designing and implementing Nepal’s Capacity 21 Programme focused on the integration of environmental management, social development and economic development. He was instrumental in the formulation of the Sustainable Development Agenda for Nepal at the National Planning Commission, chaired by the Prime Minister of Nepal.
In 2005, he came to Australia to undertake a Doctor of Philosophy at Griffith University, focused on conservation tourism and protected areas. He is only the third person from his home village of Sikles, in Nepal, to receive a university doctorate degree – an illustration of his fundamental belief in the power of education as a tool for community development, building capacity and inspiring generations to come. After completing his doctorate, he was appointed CEO of Bird Conservation Nepal, part of the world’s largest nature conservation partnership, BirdLife International. He then formed the Himalayan Sustainable Future Foundation, serving as President and CEO.
Today, Dr Gurung works in Malaysia, as Regional Project Manager for Southeast Asia and Pacific Forest Governance Project, funded by the European Union and led by BirdLife International. He continues to provide strategic support to BirdLife Asia Secretariat in Singapore for network and partner development and forest conservation across the Asia region.
Throughout Dr Gurung’s career he has played a key role as a researcher, advocate and advisor on conservation. He has provided consultancy services to global environmental organisations, including the UNDP, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN); World Wildlife Fund (WWF); and the Australia-based Sustainable Tourism Cooperative Research Centre. Through every role, Dr Gurung has remained unwavering in his efforts to ensure conservation is for, of and by the people – a philosophy that has seen him recognised for his deep contributions. In 2014, he accompanied the community conservation leader Mr. Man Bahadur Gurung from Sikles village to New York, to receive the UNDP Equator Initiative Award for the Conservation Area Management Committee of Parche, Nepal. He was a winner of the ‘Australian Alumni Award for Community Service’ in the 2014 Austrade Nepal Australia Alumni Excellence Awards, and in 2019, he was the winner of the Griffith University Outstanding International Alumnus Award – awards received in recognitions of his selfless service to the environment and the communities at the heart of conservation.