Duan is from South Africa and completed his PhD at the Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, Australia in 2011 on the resilience of coral reef tourism to global change and crises. Duan holds an MSc in Conservation Biology from the University of Cape Town and has a trans-disciplinary undergraduate training with majors in Economics, Development Studies and Environmental Science. Duan has developed, coordinated and consulted projects for BirdLife International, Conservational International and WWF among others. Subsequent to his PhD he developed a tourism research program for South African National Parks to support decision-making and management of the trade-offs and synergies between conservation and tourism.

In March 2012, Duan started a postdoctoral research fellowship at the Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions where his research focuses on the socio-economic aspects of conservation decision-making and management and operationalizing resilience ideas for biodiversity conservation. The geographic focus of his work is Australia, Chile, South Africa, the Indian subcontinent, and south-east Asia. He also leads specialist nature and wildlife tours to destinations around the world.