RESEARCH PROGRAMMES

All research projects at the Luc Hoffmann Institute operate within our three research programmes, which are derived from core principles within WWF’s conservation strategy.

Each research programme is coordinated by a research lead who works inside the WWF network and beyond to explore research opportunities and needs. They partner with academics and policy and practice experts to design and execute each research project.

Our research programmes reflect:

  • The existing and emerging threats to conservation efforts on the ground and in the oceans;
  • The critical need to consistently value biodiversity and ecosystem services within a wide range of decision-making and policy contexts;
  • Our conviction that long-term solutions to conservation problems cannot be found without fundamental change in global patterns of consumption and production.

Place-based conservation

On land, in the ocean and in freshwater systems, place-based conservation is a key strategy to support biodiversity and human well-being. However, these places are undergoing rapid change, due to climate change, shifting land-use practices, urbanization and population growth.

Past conservation efforts focused on managing protected areas in isolation to the surrounding landscape. To halt biodiversity decline, place-based conservation needs to be collaborative, integrating social and ecological dimensions across local, regional and global scales.

In this programme, we conduct interdisciplinary research to investigate how the conservation community can adapt practices to respond to changing environments. We focus on developing tools and methodologies that will enhance the capacity of communities, managers and governments to maintain social and ecological integrity in the face of local, regional and global change.

Natural capital and ecosystem services

Healthy ecosystems are, by definition, about biodiversity. This is the key indicator for the health of the natural capital stocks we share – the quality of land, water, minerals, soil and species. In turn, healthy ecosystems support the flow of ecosystem services on which our economies and societies depend. These include supporting services, such as nutrient cycling and crop pollination; provisioning services, such as food and water production; regulating services, such as the control of disease and climate; and cultural services, including spiritual and recreational values.

Biodiversity and ecosystem services are often overlooked when decision-makers allocate land and water resources to economic and other activities. As humanity places increasing pressure on an unstable set of complex, interdependent systems, we need accurate information on how biodiversity and ecosystem services will change with human action. In effect, we must demonstrate the relevance of biodiversity in achieving social, economic and other environmental goals.

This programme builds research around the core principle of internalising the value of nature in public and private sector decision-making. Our goal is to develop knowledge and products that better define, value and incorporate natural capital into decisions concerning poverty reduction, economic development and the conservation of biodiversity.

Sustainable consumption and production

With 3 billion people set to enter the middle class in the next 30 years, how we consume and what we produce will define sustainability. This future reality demands that we develop alternative approaches to consumption and production and adapt our current systems. Innovations are needed in business models, supply-chain management, public policies and expenditures, regulatory and fiscal mechanisms, construction, building and transport systems, education systems and lifestyles choices.

Our sustainable consumption and production programme addresses the two core drivers of human impact on the planet, and focuses on the validation, feasibility and impact of methods to reduce humanity’s footprint.

This programme informs policies and practices that will reduce humanity’s footprint and increase sustainability by using resources more efficiently.

Main Image: The Zambezi river, Zimbabwe. Photo © naturepl.com / Pete Oxford / WWF

Chris JohnsonResearch Programmes