Shahla has had a long-standing passion for environmental conservation and in tackling wildlife crime. As a Maldivian, her strong belief in preserving and sustaining the country’s fragile ecosystem has led her to search in ways to personally contribute to the global issue of safeguarding the natural environment. She is now looking forward to combining her passion for wildlife conservation and experience in the policy and political arena and has been exploring ways of pursuing a career at the intersection of these different fields.
Shahla’s engagement on environment and climate issues dates back to her work with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). This involved responding to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami which exposed the environmental and climate vulnerability of the Maldives. She worked with affected communities on livelihood rehabilitation.
Subsequently, Shahla has followed developments in climate change talks and witnessed larger nations supersede the needs of smaller states. She worked collectively with the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change to lobby the Maldivian Government on climate interventions to help secure its international actions on climate change. She also successfully identified opportunities to build the Maldives’ technical capacity for climate negotiations at the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC.
Shahla has experience in building strategic relationships and working with a diverse range of decision makers. While working for smaller NGOs, project proposals she co-designed received funding from international donors such as the UN. Shahla developed her strong interest in diplomacy and international relations while working for the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) at the British High Commission in Sri Lanka – she was the focal point for analysing Maldivian politics and was the lead contributor to policy development on the Maldives. Although it was a broad portfolio, her main role comprised of advising the British High Commissioner, Ministers and colleagues at the FCO on formulating positions, especially during times of political crises.
When she moved to the UK, she worked at the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), where she oversaw programmes in Asia, Africa and the Western Balkans. Her most notable achievement was the key role she played in successfully initiating WFD’s parliamentary strengthening programme in Sri Lanka. Her next role was at the Independent Diplomat, wherein her observations of developments in the UK Parliament and Government policies (that were aligned to clients’ priorities) contributed to senior management’s strategic discussions. More recently, while at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Shahla produced a paper on public policy in Commonwealth Asia which explored regional public policy challenges and achievements.
In her most recent role, at the Government of Jersey’s London Office, Shahla worked closely with the Head of Office to ensure that Jersey Ministers and officials remained fully briefed on political developments in the UK by identifying engagement opportunities with key interlocutors and following parliamentary proceedings.
Aside from her keen interest in wildlife conservation, Shahla’s other biggest love are her two cats – Kamanaa (which means lady in Dhivehi) and Kudey (little one).