Vainuupo joined the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in 2004 and spent eleven years working as the first Regional Programme Officer for Oceania for the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. From 2015 to 2017 he worked as a consultant for the Pacific Islands Roundtable for Nature Conservation (PIRT), as the Project technical expert for GEF-UNEP-SPREP Integrated Island Biodiversity (GEFPAS IIB) project and on initiating Protected Areas data collation, review and management for the 14 Pacific ACP states as the engagement specialist for the EU-ACP BIOPAMA programme – phase one. He has over 20 years’ working experience both at the national and regional levels in the Environment/Conservation field within the Pacific. He spent 7 years working at the national level with the Samoa environment ministry dealing with project implementation, management and review, programme coordination and delivery, policy formulation, technical advice and assistance, training and capacity building, awareness and outreach, logistics and planning, and stakeholder engagement – including with local communities, sometimes in very remote locations.
Vainuupo currently supports the development of the Pacific Islands Protected Area Portal (PIPAP) hosted and managed by SPREP. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Geography and History/Politics from the University of the South Pacific (USP), Fiji. He is currently chair of the protected areas working group (PAWG) of the Pacific Islands Roundtable for Nature Conservation (PIRT) and a member of the World Commission on Protected Areas, WCPA-Oceania.
Vainuupo strongly believes that protected areas in the Pacific are key tools in demonstrating climate change adaptation and contribute greatly to ecosystem and species resilience, conservation and recovery and have a key role in sustaining Pacific cultures and livelihoods. Ensuring that those who manage these bastions of biodiversity in the region are well equipped, skilled and empowered to effectively fulfil their roles is a genuine desire and motivating factor for Vainuupo and therefore, he is interested in the work of PALRC as a means of addressing existing capacity gaps related to protected area management with Pacific island countries.