WaterLex is proud to welcome Chris as its first Development Director as of 1 August 2016. Chris has fifteen successive years of experience in development, fundraising and donor relations for international human rights NGOs. Immediately prior to joining WaterLex, he led the International Service for Human Rights’ successful, multi-faceted and sustainable fundraising efforts which included increasing and diversifying the number of overall grants, their average amount and duration, and renewals. He holds a Bachelor of Arts (cum laude) in geography from UCLA and a Masters in politics from Lund University, Sweden. He also studied at UC Berkeley and University of Amsterdam (UvA).
(WaterLex): Chris, can you share what attracted you to the post of Development Director at WaterLex?
(Chris Duckett): Absolutely. After spending the past decade working on issues related to civil and political rights, I really wanted to ‘square the circle’, in other words, engage in meaningful, impactful work in the economic and social rights arena. The realisation of the human right to water and sanitation is fundamental; it is also required to realise the human rights to health, education and a healthy environment. What attracted me to WaterLex was my keen interest in this hugely important and still-very much developing thematic area, and the many opportunities this organization has to advance its agenda and to grow steadily and sustainably. I am delighted to join such an experienced, competent and highly motivated team. WaterLex is a recognised leader in its field with expert staff and as a dynamic, nimble, responsive and relatively young organization which has a great many achievements, successes and milestones to look forward to in the short, medium and long-term.
(WL): In an ideal world, how do you see WaterLex partnering with new and current donors to achieve our mission to improve water governance worldwide?
(CD): I see a great deal of scope to widen the base of support for WaterLex, while continuing to develop and grow its current partnerships, all on the basis of strong, compelling projects and activities which have been requested and mandated by our stakeholders, especially those at the local and national level.
(WL): What do you think are the biggest opportunities for our organization our upcoming participation at Stockholm World Water Week 2016?
(CD): Stockholm World Water Week is a critically important forum, as it brings together a depth of knowledge and broad array of interests under one roof for multiple days. I relish the opportunity to have access to so many of the key experts and practitioners assembled there, to learn and to make lasting contacts.
(WL): Chris, tell us about the biggest success in your career, and what you learned from it.
(CD): That’s a difficult question to answer. There are a few achievements I am especially proud of, including quintupling the income of an international human rights NGO to the USD 2.3 million dollar-level by the time of my departure and conceptualizing, drafting and securing partners for some exciting projects for multiple organizations which still to this day make an outsized impact in the lives of individuals and communities in some particularly challenging countries. Though, to date I feel I have made no greater contribution than by taking the lead in stabilising and growing the financial support base of my previous organization, together with a great team, during the midst of the Global Financial Crisis, the deleterious effects of which caused a number of human rights and humanitarian NGOs to cease operations. Despite this ominous overall situation, by overseeing income growth based on increasing predictability, which was up over 50% by the time of my departure last month, this organization has been able to move to the next level in its development.
(WL): What drives you to wake up in the morning and continue to work for human rights?
(CD): I began my career working for a large financial services company in the USA and, after getting out of bed asking ‘what is this all for?’ too many times, I was gradually overcome with doubt and had a big change of heart. Was I going to dedicate and focus my life on making a lot of money for someone else, while doing nothing to address those nagging social issues and injustices which had so long infuriated me? The answer is obvious seeing as we are sitting here having this conversation. I took another path to transform my life and career, first by undertaking a Masters Studies in Sweden and then by working successively and exclusively in the field of human rights NGOs, first researching, advocating and lobbying and later, on the institutional development side.
As I recently recounted to a good friend, work with a human rights-based approach is ‘vocational’. It’s a calling. It reflects a whole set of deeply held values and defines a big part of who you are. In this case, you choose to work for an organization because you see the impact that it has and can have, and recognise that its values correspond with your own. I find that to be the case with WaterLex.
(WL): Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share?
(CD): Yes, I would like to express my thanks to the outstanding team here at WaterLex for their hearty welcome and to underscore my eagerness to learn from them and other colleagues within the field and grow as I take on, what for me, is an exciting new challenge.
Stockholm World Water Week
Chris will join the WaterLex team, including Director General Amanda Loeffen, Programme Director for Africa, Rose Osinde Alabaster, Senior Legal Advisor, Viktoria Mohos Naray, and Communications Intern, Lorraine Schilling at Stockholm World Water Week. To meet Chris and the team, please consider stopping by the Swiss Water Partnership booth, where WaterLex will be discussing our programmes and successes, Sunday 28 August from 13:30-16:30.
For more information:
Lynn Sorrentino, Communications and Events Manager
Tel: +41 22 907 36 46
Email: info (at) waterlex.org
WaterLex is an international public interest development organization based in Geneva, Switzerland. It is a UN-Water Partner with UN ECOSOC special consultative status. Its mission is to develop sustainable solutions based on human rights to improve water governance worldwide, particularly in regard to consistent water law and policy frameworks, with the Sustainable Development Goals (especially SDG 6, water for all) in mind. It is an official member of the Global Water Partnership, UNDP Cap-Net, UNDP Global Water Solidarity, UNEP Global Wastewater Initiative, and Swiss Water Partnership.