Dr Robyn Cleland
Chief environmental biosecurity officer, Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water
Dr Cleland has held senior leadership roles in the Australian public service for more than a decade, working in policy, compliance and regulation across the agriculture, health and environment portfolios. She has shaped regulatory policy in biosecurity, environmental, chemical and biotechnology assessment and overseen compliance activities. Her scientific expertise spans biosecurity, plant health, biotechnology, food, ecology and agriculture.
Dr Cleland has worked extensively with state and territory jurisdictions across a number of national regulatory schemes. She has been involved in national and international discussions on synthetic biology and other new technologies, research integrity and a variety of national security issues.
Dr Cleland has represented Australia internationally in bilateral and multilateral fora, e.g. the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the International Plant Protection Commission, the Food and Agriculture Organization and in national security. She has provided input into Australia’s position on negotiations in the Convention on Biological Diversity and has extensive experience in engaging with diverse stakeholders across contentious issues. As a regulator, her focus has been to achieve practical outcomes that contribute directly to protecting Australia’s unique environment through efficient and effective regulation. She has a PhD in plant biochemistry and spent many years as a research scientist at the University of Cambridge and Sheffield in the UK and at the Australian National University.
Currently, Dr Cleland is the chief environmental biosecurity officer in the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water. In this role, she is responsible for strengthening Australia’s environmental biosecurity outcomes through leading the committee that responds to incursions of environmental pests and diseases, building community understanding of environmental biosecurity and supporting research that contributes to these outcomes. She also liaises between government and the community to raise awareness and build Australia’s capacity to manage biosecurity risks.