Dr Paul Marshall

Head – NEOM Nature Reserve and Adjunct Professor of James Cook University

Paul is responsible for leading the visionary program to conserve 95% of NEOM (25,000 km2) as a protected area spanning spectacular red deserts, snow-capped mountains, vibrant coral reefs and deep ocean habitats. NEOM is a gigaproject that aims to accelerate human progress and spearhead delivery of Vision 2030 for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  In collaboration with Saudi Arabian and international partners, the NEOM Nature Reserve will kickstart a new era in the conservation of Arabian wildlife through a unique approach integrating landscape-scale habitat restoration, rewilding, nature-based tourism and development planning.

Prior to this role, Paul was the founding Chief Environment Officer for NEOM. He led the establishment of NEOM’s innovative program of environmental protection. He embedded environmental performance across all areas of the business, ensuring that one of the world’s largest and most ambitious development projects is also setting new benchmarks in nature conservation.

Before joining NEOM, Paul served as a Managing Director of Reef Ecologic, a company specialized in creating innovative solutions for environmental challenges. This followed a 15-year career in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, where he was the founding director of the Climate Change Program and led key programs in research, monitoring, conservation planning and resilience-based management. Throughout his career spanning private sector, government and NGO engagements, Paul has regularly advised and worked with international organisations, national governments, NGOs and leaders from the private sector. These have included International Union for the Conservation of Nature, UNESCO, The Nature Conservancy, NOAA, The Great Barrier Reef Foundation, and governments of Australia, USA, St Lucia, Grenada, Belize, Vietnam, Palau and Saudi Arabia.

He is a founding member of the IUCN Working Group on Climate Change and Coral Reefs, member of the IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management, member of the Advisory Board of the Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre, founding co-chair of the International Working Group on Management for the Coral Restoration Consortium and serves on the Executive Committee for Sustainability of the Red Sea.

Paul holds a PhD in Coral Reef Ecology and Management from James Cook University in Australia and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Melbourne. He continues his long affiliation with James Cook University as Adjunct Professor with the Centre for Tropical Water & Aquatic Ecosystem Research at JCU. He has authored over 80 peer-reviewed articles, including internationally significant reports and books. He is certified as a Commercial Diver from the Australian Diver Accreditation Scheme (ADAS) and has completed over 2000 scuba dives and several deep-ocean submersible dives.

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