Links 56 | Interview with the British Ambassador to Ecuador Katherine Ward LVO
- It must be a huge honour to be appointed Her Majesty´s Ambassador to Ecuador. Tell us a bit about how your career has led you here.
Yes it is a huge honour. I first became interested in Latin America at university in my early 20s and my first job on graduating was at the British Council in Ecuador. I then travelled through Central America and returned to the UK to do a Masters in Politics in which I specialised in Latin America. My first overseas posting with the Foreign Office was at our Embassy in Cuba. So being posted to Ecuador as British Ambassador is like coming home.
- You´ve had the opportunity to live and work all over the world as part of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Where has been the most interesting?
I have been posted to Havana, Paris, Brussels and Dar es Salaam. All have been fascinating.
I loved Cuba for all sorts of reasons. Other highlights: covering the French presidential elections in 2007; watching a European Commissioner deliver a speech I had written for her to the Arab League in Cairo; being the UK lead in a ground-breaking EU sanctions negotiation on the Middle East; working with the wonderful staff in Dar es Salaam to make the High Commission a better place to work; and being one of the lead Foreign Office officials dealing with the UK’s response to the Gaza war in 2014.
And coordinating HM the Queen’s State Visit to France in 2004 was unforgettable. As I flew into Toulouse on HM’s plane on my birthday, I had to pinch myself to remind myself that this was real.
- What have you enjoyed most about your time in Ecuador so far? Has anything surprised you?
I have most enjoyed getting to meet Ecuadorean people again, in all sorts of different contexts. I have perhaps been most surprised by the embassy team. I had heard before I came that the embassy team was good, but I had no idea just how good until I got here.
- How do you view the future relationship between the UK and Ecuador?
I am full of hope for the relationship. In the next few years I expect to see education links go from strength to strength, more British engagement in the mining sector, and the signature of the EU Free Trade Agreement to bring lots of new trade opportunities for both countries. There are a host of other areas where the UK and Ecuador can cooperate more and I hope we will be able to do so.
- What is the most exciting project in Ecuador that the British Embassy is currently involved in?
It’s difficult to name just one.
We’ve just visited an exciting, and highly promising mining project. Over 800 Ecuadorean students went to study in UK higher education in 2016. We want to see these numbers to keep growing, so the commercial team is now planning the next universities fair. We are working up ideas with a British company to run a media campaign to help combat gender violence. And we are in discussion with a BBC documentary team about how to screen a remarkable new film they have just produced on the Galapagos Islands, retracing Charles Darwin’s original voyage, and how we might bring some of the amazing footage to Ecuadorean schools to support environmental education.