Pacific dream made a reality for law student
A young woman from Canberra has blended her interests in law, environmental studies and international development to kick-start her legal career in the Pacific.
Gina Zheng (pictured) is currently in Suva, Fiji, where she is taking her experience with international development to a whole new level.
The ANU law student is helping to establish a new office for an environmental consulting group GHD, as part of an internship opportunity she secured via the Australian government’s New Colombo Plan program.
It is her second overseas immersion with the program, having previously interned at the Fiji Environmental Law Association and having lived and worked in Papua New Guinea as a scholar for over three months.
Ms Zheng, who is working towards a combined law/arts degree, said that she was drawn to work in the international development sector and motivated by a desire for her work to make a meaningful impact.
“I am specifically interested in the Pacific because the region is particularly susceptible to effects of climate change, so sustainability and environmental management are becoming very important,” Ms Zheng said.
After her time spent in Papua New Guinea, she said her interest in pursuing a career in the Pacific was cemented.
“The New Colombo Plan has absolutely solidified my professional interest in pursuing sustainable development and youth and women’s empowerment in the Melanesian region,” she said in a statement published by the Australian High Commission in Papua New Guinea.
GHD was founded in Melbourne in 1928 and provides engineering and architecture advisory services, as well as environmental consulting.
Ms Zheng heard about the company while she was working at global energy developer Neoen. She said that work at GHD so far has included renewable energy and airport runway extension projects for Fiji’s Nausori International Airport.
“I have had a chance to carry out an environmental management analysis of the legislative framework governing the renewable energy sector in Fiji.
“This has greatly shaped my understanding of the complex nuances of the sector, and I will incorporate what I’ve learnt into my final year honours project back in Australia,” she said.
GHD Fiji manager James Palmer said that after 15 years of being actively involved in the local market, the company was excited to establish a shopfront in Fiji.
“Not only is Gina involved in our international development work, she is also seeing how we set up a new office from the ground up,” Mr Palmer said.
Gina Zheng in the Fiji office of environmental consulting company GHD.
Gina Zheng participating in a cultural day at Papua New Guinea's Divine Word University in Madang.