Navigating environmental governance in Fiji: Kirsty’s doctoral pursuit

Kirsty Anantharajah


Having completed her undergraduate studies in Law at the Australian National University (ANU), Kirsty Anantharajah found it gratifying to continue her academic journey with a Doctor of Philosophy in Regulation and Governance at the School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet) in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific (CAP). A distinguished alumna at ANU, her story unfolds as a testament to resilience, intellectual curiosity, and a commitment to addressing pressing global challenges.

Kirsty's decision to pursue a PhD was rooted in her admiration for the exceptional researchers at RegNet. With renowned academics like Emeritus Professor Neil Gunningham and Professor Kate Henne as her mentors, Kirsty found a nurturing environment for her ambitious research endeavours. Speaking of the support she received, Kirsty stated her supervisors, “guided me and my project with the utmost care, advising and helping me overcome the various challenges I faced throughout my PhD.”

The focal point of Kirsty's doctoral exploration was climate finance in Fiji—a venture into the complexities of financial mechanisms aimed at addressing the climate crisis. Kirsty attributes her inspiration to the profound work emanating from RegNet, emphasising the importance of researchers being closely connected to the real-world implications of their studies.

Her favourite learning experience transcended the confines of lecture halls. The immersive fieldwork conducted for her dissertation in Fiji left an indelible mark on her academic and personal growth. "I learnt so much from the fieldwork for my dissertation, specifically from the participants I worked with in Fiji. I learnt how various communities, institutions and individuals are navigating climate-related crisis and building hopeful and generous futures, often with little material support", she said. 

Reflecting on the invaluable skills gained during her studies, Kirsty identifies humility as the most profound lesson— an acknowledgment of the diverse perspectives that shape our world. She elaborates, stating, "In an era defined by escalating ecological crises, there's an imperative to amplify voices that frequently lack access to mainstream platforms yet play an active role in crafting meaningful solutions."

Research was not the only significant development in Kirsty’s life, as she started a family midway through her PhD. Reflecting upon her journey; Kirsty wishes she knew from the outset how enriching the whole process would be and how she would discover unforeseen inspiration in her son, whose presence fuelled her quest for creative and optimistic solutions.

Her CAP degree has been instrumental in preparing her for her current role as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Environmental Governance (CEG) at the University of Canberra. The research skills honed during her time at ANU continue to fuel her passion for understanding and addressing environmental challenges.

Congratulations on earning your doctorate, Kirsty! We have no doubt that your future endeavours will be as successful and impactful as your academic journey thus far.