Emyr is originally from Benllech, Anglesey. He studied Geography and Economics at Reading University and achieved his Doctorate at the Department of Geography, University College Wales, Aberystwyth.
After an initial career with the National Farmers’ Union, Emyr joined the Welsh Office in 1991 and undertook a variety of roles including health, finance, culture and recreation, and economic development. Within the Welsh Government he was Chief Executive of the Wales European Funding Office, Director Social Justice and Regeneration, Director General Public Services and Local Government, and Director General Education and Skills. In 2012 Emyr was appointed Chief Executive of Natural Resources Wales, and led the creation of the new environmental body for Wales which integrated the work of the previous legacy bodies. He retired at the end of 2017.
Emyr is a Fellow of Aberystwyth University and has been Chair of Council since 2018, having previously been a Council member and Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee. He is a Board member of the Teachers’ Pay Review Body for Wales and of Estyn, and is also a member of Glas Cymru. His previous NED positions include a Trustee of the Alzheimer’s Society, where he also served as Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee.
Since his retirement, Emyr has taken a close interest in heritage and local history, in particular that of his native county of Anglesey, and is the author of numerous books and articles. He is a Committee member of the Welsh Place Names Society and a life member of CADW. Emyr is a fluent Welsh speaker, lives in Cardiff, and is married with two children.