Irene has lived and worked in China since 1990, beginning in NGO projects for rural poverty reduction and micro-credit in southwest China. From 1995-2004, she was a field-based consultant for the design and implementation of various bilateral and multilateral agency environmental and social projects in China and mainland southeast Asia.
From 2004-2012, Irene was Program Officer for Environment and Development (Community Rights over Natural Resources) in the Ford Foundation Beijing Office. She managed 160 grants to support 62 grantee organizations in government, research institutions and NGOs working on poverty reduction and natural resource management in pastoral and upland forest areas. These grants also yielded several hundred books and articles.
From 2012-2016, Irene was Social Sector Specialist in the Asian Development Bank PRC Resident Mission, working on technical assistance projects, policy analysis and strategy development. In March 2017, she joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and remains in Beijing leading work on AIIB’s independent learning and evaluation function.
Irene completed her bachelor’s degree in East Asian Studies and Human Geography, and her honour’s degree and PhD in human geography, all at ANU. She remains interested in:
- Community-based natural resource management, particularly in pastoral areas and under climate change
- Strategies for reducing rural poverty and rural-urban inequality
- Strengthening a learning lens in policy and project monitoring and evaluation
- Project social and environmental safeguards and associated complaint mechanisms