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New horizons for the Luc Hoffmann Institute

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A new strategy for the Luc Hoffmann Institute was unveiled yesterday during a gathering of colleagues and partner organisations.

The Institute was created by WWF and the MAVA Foundation in 2011 to create stronger links between biodiversity science and conservation action. Since then it has worked closely with WWF and a range of partners on a diverse portfolio of projects.

These include helping protected areas adapt to climate change, testing a ‘big data’ approach to show the links between watershed heath and human health, assessing the biodiversity impact of agricultural commodities, and identifying solutions to reduce the environmental footprint of cities. In tandem, the Institute’s capacity development programme has helped a group of young professionals develop the broad range of skills needed to tackle today’s conservation challenges.

This ‘first generation’ of the Institute has generated a wealth of knowledge, expertise and lessons which is being harnessed and shared with the conservation community.

A recent evaluation of the Institute’s activities combined with a ‘horizon scanning’ exercise to identify the most critical challenges facing nature conservation led to the development of the new strategy. The focus will shift from a project base to developing solutions through convening, providing thought leadership for new conservation approaches, incubating emerging ideas, providing insights into new challenges and conducting rapid-response dialogues.

“Biodiversity is still being lost on an unprecedented scale but this loss, and the well-documented risk it poses for human society, does not receive the same level of attention as other major threats such as climate change,” says Jon Hutton, Director of the Luc Hoffmann Institute.

“There are many reasons for this, including strong links between biodiversity loss and highly political issues such as the allocation of land and resources, and a lack of consensus on how to reconcile conservation and development goals,” he adds.

We need to broker new relationships between scientists, policy-makers and practitioners. Conservation needs a fresh perspective, one that challenges the ‘status quo’ to identify innovative roadmaps for change. This will be the new focus of the Institute.”

The MAVA Foundation has agreed to fund the strategy for three years and a detailed work programme incorporating key milestones and measures of success is now being developed.

The strategy was presented yesterday during a reception at the headquarters of IUCN – International Union for Conservation of Nature by Jon Hutton who outlined the achievements and lessons learned of LHI’s first phase which will underpin the second phase of activity.

First guest speaker André Hoffmann, President of the MAVA Board, said science-based conservation was of paramount importance but science needs to be made far more ‘useable’ for policy-makers and practitioners.

Adil Najam, Chair of the Luc Hoffmann Institute Advisory Board, urged the conservation community to raise its ambition, adapt to the reality of a ‘post-truth’ world and build much stronger connections between knowledge and action.

WWF International Director General, Marco Lambertini said, “we live at a time when pressures on the planet’s natural systems are growing: the climate is changing, the ocean is being depleted, the land is defrosting and species are being driven to mass extinction. But also at a time of unprecedented awareness and response – by governments, society and business – to environmental challenges. The real challenge and opportunity is to accelerate and scale up our response. The Luc Hoffmann Institute working with WWF and external partners can generate the science that inspires policies and impact on the ground.”

Photo: Shrimp fry fishing in the Sibsa River © naturepl.com/Tim Laman/WWF

Luc Hoffmann InstituteNew horizons for the Luc Hoffmann Institute

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