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Conservation NGOs need a new mindset and strategy: interview with Marcelo Furtado

Marcelo Furtado, a visiting scholar at Columbia University, has over 30 years of experience working in the sustainability field, and is committed to advancing environmental and social justice through advocacy and philanthropy. In an interview with the Luc Hoffmann Institute, as part of The future of conservation NGOs initiative, he discusses how conservation action is becoming wider and more inclusive, and therefore more complex.

You’ve had a long career spanning chemical engineering, technology, renewable energy, and human rights activism. How did your career path develop? What inspired your interest in conservation?

Marcelo: I think I’m driven by two main issues: one is looking into the future and another is inequality. I was born near a botanical garden, because my father was doing his PhD there, so conservation became part of my entire life. I’d go with my father and play with the Petri dishes and look at things in the microscope. Over time I developed a passion for nature, hiking and travelling. Now that I think about it, it feels like conservation has been more a natural consequence of my different life experiences than an original driver.

What are the changes you’ve seen over the course of your experience in the conservation sector? 

Marcelo:  At the beginning the primary focus was on civil society trying to make governments more accountable and responsive. Then we had a second phase, with civil society trying to make corporations more accountable. It became clear that unless you change how markets actually work,  public policies alone, although very important, won’t necessarily provide you with the solutions you are looking for. You need both. Now, with the third phase, the focus is on the investment community behind the corporations with the intent to make them more responsible and liable for their actions and impacts on the environment and society. These different phases are not isolated, they are interconnected, and they represent the key themes of a public conversation that over time has evolved to become wider and more inclusive.  

Another major change, in the past two decades, came from scientific and technological progress: with the amount of information currently at our disposal. This information has enabled us to have a level of monitoring and understanding that is just incredible. We now better understand what’s working and what’s not, we can identify the best indicators and metrics and are becoming more strategic and effective. Lately we are seeing new developments in the public conversation, like the inclusion of new themes such as employment, access to income and opportunities for all. The idea of conservation we had in the past, as just fencing off an area and protecting it, no longer works. 

Lately, the conservation sector has started discussing issues such as inequity, colonial legacy, power dynamics between global north and global south, etc. Have you seen any impact of this new global awareness in the areas where you work?

Marcelo: Yes, let me give you an example. In the past  we did not have an easy and proper relationship with indigenous communities, so a few NGOs became specialised in working as a bridge between the indigenous communities and the socio-environmental movement. But now that’s not necessary anymore. The indigenous communities are sophisticated. Some have their own representation, such as the Brazilian Indigenous People’s Articulation (APIB), and some have their own lawyers that can defend their interests all the way up to the highest levels of jurisdiction. The point I’m trying to make is that it’s okay to have the big international NGOs, but we must pay attention to the fact that, in this changing world, there are players in the field that will be much more capable and effective because they have a capillary action, they can reach deeply into the local communities. I think that a couple of critical questions for the conservation community are: how much of your strategy is really co-developed with local players? Or, how much of that strategy is you just ‘hiring’ local NGOs and local players to deliver what you defined as important?

Do you think conservation NGOs will have a role to play in the future? 

Marcelo: Absolutely. But conservation NGOs are also very conservative organisations and that is a challenge. We need to be more bold and more open. Maybe instead of a few large global conservation NGOs, we should have a constellation of organisations working in different sectors and a strategy that brings them all together. I’m not totally sure of the validity of the current consolidation approach, where the conservation movement is run by very few organisations with a single mindset and strategy. I think that this model will be challenged. Are we future ready? Using technology to the best positive impact? Shifting the system? Monitoring impact. I have the feeling that the finance/business world has already understood that message and the conservation NGOs are a step behind. Nevertheless, society at large still trusts conservation NGOs and therefore they have both a fantastic mandate and a huge responsibility to fulfil it.  

Learn more about this initiative: The future of conservation NGOs

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Exploring the potential of gamification to finance nature conservation: a new report

Biodiversity loss is one of the world’s most immediate and critical challenges and at the same time it is becoming increasingly difficult to build interest in and fundraise for nature conservation. The latest estimate of the gap between what is needed to be spent to conserve nature and what is actually spent (the ‘conservation gap’) is over USD 800 billion per year. 

A new report by the Luc Hoffmann Institute – Using Gamification in Nature Conservation – explores how storytelling and gamification can derive value from, and for, wildlife. It highlights some current and past initiatives, theories and lessons learned from these efforts. The report not only lays out the current landscape, but also aims to spark people’s imagination to act on an increasingly urgent need.

‘’Finding the value that people will pay for is the holy grail of 21st-century conservation. The conservation community is sitting on a massive asset – charismatic species, wildplaces and nature stories – that could provide massive value with the right model’’, says Adrian Dellecker, Head of Strategy and Development at the Luc Hoffmann Institute. ‘’This report seeks to stimulate innovation, encourage entrepreneurs, and convince states and corporations that by using available technology, we can meaningfully address the painful financial gap in global conservation efforts and reconnect humans with nature. This report is not an end in itself: it must result in a flurry of innovation from a new generation of entrepreneurs.’’

This report begins with an overview of gamification, followed by an exploration of gamified marketplaces as alternatives for donations. Experts in a range of fields were interviewed and eleven case studies were examined, ranging from blockchain games to gamified marketplaces. In conclusion, the report recommends that gamification should be considered as one solution in a wide suite of methods to revolutionise nature conservation funding.

The authors of Using gamification in nature conservation are PentaQuest, independent gamification experts and Sasha Sebright, an MPhil candidate at the University of Cambridge who has been working closely with the institute’s Gamifying Nature Conservation project team.

To learn more about the Luc Hoffmann Institute’s work on gamification techniques and conservation please visit Gamifying Nature Conservation

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Spurring new cross-sectoral connections towards anti-corruption responses in conservation

A thought piece by Elizabeth Hart, Chief of Party, Targeting Natural Resource Corruption (TNRC), World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Aled Williams, Senior Advisor at U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Center – Chr. Michelsen Institute, Research Coordinator for TNRC. Both are part of the Exploring Responses to Corruption in Natural Resource Management and Conservation Practice initiative, incubated by the Luc Hoffmann Institute and TNRC.

Corruption undermines every type of conservation effort. Knowledge sharing and new alliances between the conservation and anti-corruption communities have the potential to drive more effective responses.

Corruption plays a significant role in degrading nature, disrupting governance, undermining conservation efforts, and discouraging thriving, sustainable communities around the world. Corruption is complex and resilient, with its local dimension often connected to global dynamics through both direct and indirect pathways. It lacks a universally accepted definition while at the same time calling for coordinated responses from different actors. 

The challenge

Sharing cross-sectoral learning on corruption and its impact on natural resources and conservation is a key part of exploring new anti-corruption responses in the conservation sector.

Corruption is often the root cause of environmental degradation for the exclusive benefit of restricted power circles, as in the case of bribes to falsify export permits for protected species, complicit enabling of illegal and unreported fishing and illegal logging, or wholesale land grabbing from indigenous communities. In addition, the climate crisis has highlighted the urgency of rethinking how we do things across every sector. This includes addressing the misuse of power to serve interests that threaten a functional, just and sustainable society and environment.

Exploring anti-corruption responses

Conservation practitioners and analysts know these challenges, and the anti-corruption community has learned much over decades of work. However, until recently, only a few initiatives have directly addressed the impact of corruption on conservation outcomes. Fortunately, this is changing. Organisations on both sides recognise the confluence of their concerns, and the agenda in this area is growing as stakeholders examine the overlap and potential collaboration between these fields. 

The Targeting Natural Resource Corruption (TNRC) project, led by the WWF US in consortium with U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre – Chr. Michelsen Institute, TRAFFIC and the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center (TraCCC) at George Mason University, has been one of the leaders in this effort. We are working with the Luc Hoffmann Institute to expand this dialogue and incubate new anti-corruption responses through the ‘Exploring responses to corruption in natural resource management and conservation practice’ project.

Through this cooperation, we hope to build common understandings of the scope of the problem, identify the range of risks that corruption poses to conservation objectives, and support conservation stakeholders in addressing the multi-faceted and dynamic character of corruption.

Arenas for fostering change

Focussing on lived experiences and insights is essential for a clear understanding of the problem. In order to respond in as informed a way as possible, six arenas have been identified where anti-corruption interventions would significantly benefit nature conservation. 

  • Law enforcement and the judicial sector
  • International finance and illicit financial flows
  • Supply chains
  • National policies and politics
  • Local and community-based conservation
  • Conservation organisations and funders

Thus far in the field of conservation, corruption has been primarily viewed through a law enforcement lens. This isn’t surprising given that many harms to conservation outcomes come from illegal activities like poaching, illegal fishing and logging, and the corruption that facilitates them. 

However, enforcement does not happen in a vacuum but is embedded in its political and social context. It is influenced by national policies and politics, and illegality is encouraged by avenues for laundering proceeds and the high returns generated by global supply-chain demand for illegally-harvested products. And, because supporting law enforcement actors may be compromising and risky in environments of corruption and low accountability, the enforcement arena needs to be further explored and supported by an understanding of how socio-political factors shape the effective implementation of the law. 

At the same time, corrupt actions can undermine even conservation activities that seem far from the networks of criminality that drive illegal trade, like community-based management. In such settings (as well as others), community empowerment, human rights-based approaches, and interventions aimed at addressing informal social norms may be better tools than law enforcement to address the impact of corruption. 

Understanding the enabling environment for corruption and its broader context are therefore essential to assessing the potential of a programme for success or failure, and to avoid unintended consequences. Given these considerations, conservation organisations and their funders need to assess and strengthen the range of approaches they have available to identify the risks that corruption poses and respond accordingly.

Co-creating shared agendas

By integrating the corruption lens in the way that we work, our goal is to reduce the risk that corruption poses to conservation and natural resource management (NRM) objectives. Through our work with the ‘Exploring Responses to Corruption in Natural Resource Management and Conservation Practice’ initiative, we aim to offer an opportunity for anti-corruption and conservation thought and action leaders to learn from each other and develop an actionable strategy for responding to the threats that corruption poses – it is a real possibility for growing partnerships in pursuit of a more just and sustainable global society.

Read more

Building State Capacity? Anti-Corruption and Illegal Logging in the Peruvian Amazon
An April 2021 TNRC Podcast with Aled Williams (U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre – CMI) joined by Julia Urrunaga, Peru Director of the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), and Camila Gianella, Researcher at the Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI).

Mind the gap: Bridging the anti-money laundering (AML) and conservation communities to better address conservation crime and corruption
An April 2021 blog post by Judy Deane, Deputy Director, The Terrorism, Transnational Crime, and Corruption Center, GMU.

Natural resources, human rights, and corruption: What are the connections?
A June 2021 TNRC Topic Brief by Kate Sheill, Independent Consultant, and Rob Parry-Jones, World Wildlife Fund.

The content of this thought piece represents the authors’ own views and does not necessarily represent the views of the Luc Hoffmann Institute, the Exploring Responses to Corruption in Natural Resource Management and Conservation Practice initiative, nor of any of their collaborating institutions.

Visit the project page: Exploring responses to corruption in natural resource management and conservation practice

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The future of conservation NGOs

How can we collectively reimagine integrated, innovative and impactful pathways for conservation NGOs in a rapidly changing world? 

We live in times of unprecedented speed and scale of change. Digital transformation, as well as shifting societal norms and perceptions of justice, offer extraordinary challenges and opportunities for change. 

Further, in the recent decade, conservation NGOs have come under increasing criticism and pressure raising questions about organisational culture and racism, colonial legacy, power distribution between Global South and Global North and existing funding models.  As the gap widens between the rapid pace at which the world is changing and the pace of change in conservation NGOs, how can we ensure that the conservation sector remains effective and relevant? What would a successful and impactful nature conservation world look like?

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‘The future of conservation NGOs’ initiative being incubated at the Luc Hoffmann Institute will bring together a diverse set of voices to reflect on these systemic patterns and their impacts on conservation effectiveness. It is envisioned that this process will help rethink the presence, role and structure of existing conservation NGOs and co-create integrated and innovative future-relevant pathway(s). 

Who we are working with

Related SDGs

Explore the impacts

Ideation

14 September 2021

Marcelo Furtado, a visiting scholar at Columbia University, shares his thoughts with the Luc Hoffmann Institute in an interview on the future of conservation NGOs.

Conservation NGOs need a new mindset and strategy: interview with Marcelo Furtado

Aspiration

By December 2022, for a diverse set of voices – conservation practitioners, thinkers, disruptors, and leaders – from across different geographies, disciplines and sectors, to have collectively reimagined and identified integrated and innovative pathway(s) for conservation NGOs that meaningfully benefit people and nature in a rapidly changing world.

Timeline ends here

Related resources

Conservation NGOs need a new mindset and strategy
A September 2021 interview with Columbia University visiting scholar, Marcelo Furtado

Whither large International Non-Governmental Organisations?
A September 2018 working paper by Penny Lawrence 

The Latest Trends That Will Shape 2020 and Beyond
A January 2020 GlobeScan Radar Report

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Is wildlife data gamification the key to engaging a new audience in conservation?

A #GamifyingConservation thought piece by Rafael Mares, Wildlife Data Scientist at Internet of Elephants, partner of the Luc Hoffmann Institute in the Gamifying Nature Conservation initiative.  

Can we harness wildlife data through innovative storytelling and gamification techniques to boost engagement and support for conservation efforts?

A wildlife story

Giraneza, a silverback in Rwanda, was the son of the leader of the largest mountain gorilla group ever recorded. At the age of 14, Giraneza’s father died in a battle with another silverback. Giraneza left his family shortly after and, from then on, led a mostly solitary life peppered with violence trying to form a new group. He defeated and killed two other silverbacks, Bwenge and Ugenda, whose groups were greatly disrupted. However, none of their females joined Giraneza. Finally, he defeated Gushimira, the leader of a group whose two females, Pasika and Kurinda, decided to join Giraneza. Having succeeded in forming his own group, the aggression stopped and he led a peaceful life until he ultimately died of pneumonia two years later, at which point his hard-won group disbanded.

The data behind the story

Giraneza’s story is not a work of fiction. The brief summary of his life is based on at least 23 years of detailed observations and hard work in the field by researchers at the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, in incredibly challenging terrain and conditions. He was, after all, a mountain gorilla living in the wild. From recording his birth to his daily movements, health, behaviour, social interactions, and ultimately his death, behind the story there is a richness of data recorded by observers on the ground that isn’t at all obvious from a catchy headline of a few key events. 

Like Giraneza, there are thousands of animals being observed throughout their lives, across species and landscapes as diverse as chimpanzees in Tanzania and orcas off the coast of North America, to globetrotting Arctic terns. Thanks to sophisticated and ever-increasingly accessible technology, the data sets on these animals are growing exponentially. 

The individual stories of these animals rarely reach the wider public, however, and typically only exist in the minds of the handful of researchers that are studying them. Decades of hard work observing and collecting detailed data on individual animals become statistics in a scientific article or conservation management plan. What if we were to open up those rich data sets, such as behavioural and life-history observations, GPS coordinates describing movement, photos or audio recordings to others beyond the scientific community? Could making wildlife data more accessible ultimately encourage innovative storytelling and help reach a wider audience?

Making wildlife data more accessible

Scientists are increasingly required to share data within the scientific community. It’s better for transparency and encourages collaboration and innovation. The data repositories Movebank and Dryad are just a couple of examples of how scientists share their hard-earned data. 

But what if we created other sharing models that made wildlife data more accessible to people in different disciplines or, indeed, to the general public? Think video games, animation, interactive maps, abstract art or anything based on real data from the species that have been and are currently being studied in the wild. The benefits in terms of public understanding, enthusiasm and support for conservation efforts, be they financial or otherwise, could be huge and could also feed back to the data providers.

At Internet of Elephants, we’ve focused largely on using wildlife data to create fun and inspiring mobile games. We see raw wildlife data, collected by researchers for research purposes, as an underused resource for engagement in conservation, and believe games are the perfect medium to reach the broadest possible audience with the stories data can tell. This is what makes our partnership with the Luc Hoffmann Institute so exciting to me: we’re challenging ourselves, as well as other creators and the conservation community, to think of bold, new ways in which to use wildlife data. I believe opening up wildlife data can help conservation researchers serve the ultimate purpose for which data are collected in the first place: to spread knowledge and appreciation of the natural world and provide actionable insights.

Rafael Mares, Wildlife Data Scientist at Internet of Elephants, partner of the Luc Hoffmann Institute in Gamifying Nature Conservation.

The content of this thought piece represents the author’s own views and does not necessarily represent the views of the Gamifying Nature Conservation initiative nor of any of its collaborating institutions.

Visit the project page: Gamifying Nature Conservation

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Can gamification help bridge the human-nature empathy divide?

A #GamifyingConservation thought piece on empathy by Sasha Sebright, MPhil in Conservation Leadership candidate at the University of Cambridge, working in collaboration with the Luc Hoffmann Institute and UNEP-WCMC.

Do you want to help create a society that integrates nature for its inherent worth, and not just its exploitative value? Begin by encouraging empathy.

Empathy – why should we care?

There is a stark contrast between loving animals and empathising with them. Does the idea of cuddling a pet slow loris bring you joy? Would riding and bathing an elephant turn a good holiday into a great one? I can comfortably bet you know ‘animal lovers’ who would jump at the chance to do one or both of these activities. If, however, you empathise with animals, these questions might elicit feelings of sadness and concern at the daily exploitation of nature for humanity’s entertainment. 

Of the many skills we could develop to inspire social change, empathy has been shown to be exceptionally powerful in promoting morally driven decision-making, with higher empathy levels correlating with decreased likelihood of aggressive and antisocial behaviours. Furthermore, encouraging and enabling others to view a world through the lens of bio-empathy increases pro-environmental behaviours, resulting in decisions that put the emotional and physical wellbeing of non-humans above one’s own personal desires.

Recognising and developing human-animal empathetic capacity is therefore critical if we wish to succeed in reaching conservation goals. So how can we tap into the emotion of empathy for the benefit of conservation, and could gamification help?

The power of play

Game experiences have been called empathy machines, which Farber and Schrier define as having “organic and artificial, connective and disruptive, social and antisocial, and distracting and reflective” aspects. Have you ever felt a joyous connection with the heroine of a book, or felt pain at the suffering of a film character? If you can incite these empathetic emotions when viewing another’s story, imagine now being within that story; actively playing, inhabiting, making choices and interacting within a scenario purposefully designed to grow your empathetic capacity.

Gamified systems have the power to physically alter the structure of our brains. Dr Heidi Boisvert, author of the TED Talk, How I’m using biological data to tell better stories – and spark social change,  realised this when she discovered that her efforts to spark social change had been inadvertently eroding functions in the brain necessary for empathy, thereby dehumanising the users. Boisvert’s unfortunate finding highlights how influential games can be in altering human behaviour, but also the care that needs to go into designing such technology to navigate away from unintended negative outcomes.

Emotive design

With the above in mind, how can a game experience be designed to intentionally enhance empathy whilst actively avoiding the exacerbation of apathy? Firstly, through narrative. Never underestimate the power of a good story! Growing up I remember exploring Fangorn Forest alongside the Ents, and mapping out ways to avoid the orcs, which were without doubt surrounding my home. If you had not guessed already, my night-time reading was The Lord of the Rings and the narrative was so strong that I became (temporarily!) lost in a fictional world. 

When transported into another’s story, we are more likely to connect with a character and experience parallel or reactive feelings. Typically, though, stories and data have been represented as an either-or – a poignant tale vs a logical discussion. Imagine if storytelling and data could be combined, connecting an audience to real world information and creating what leadership consultant Karen Eber describes as a ‘power ballad’ (an emotive story that causes all four lobes of the human brain to light up) in her TED Talk, How your brain responds to stories – and why they’re crucial for leaders.

The Gamifying Nature Conservation project aims to generate conservation revenue through the use of real wildlife data. Could this data be blended with empathy-building aspects, such as a compelling narrative, cognitive cues, user agency and moments of reflection to (re)inspire connections between humans and nature?

There are, of course, limitations in using gameplay to build empathy. We cannot currently replicate the sensory richness that face-to-face interactions provide, but advances in virtual reality and computer technology come ever closer to closing this gap. As developments continue, the way we choose to portray animals and the potential of non-human bonds will prove pivotal in influencing how humans continue to view and treat biodiversity issues.

In Chris Milk’s humorous yet insightful TED Talk, How virtual reality can create the ultimate empathy machine, he depicts how virtual reality connects humans to other humans in a profound way that he had never observed with other media forms. If we can harness this power of connection to bridge the gap with non-humans, those with little experience of posthuman empathy may intuitively begin to feel the grief, love, longing, or serenity of an animal. Barriers to acceptance of sentient, intelligent, complex ‘others’ would be dismantled. 

Emotions are often discarded during the decision making process, but facts and data don’t change behaviour, emotions do. If we want to help create a society that integrates nature for its inherent worth and not just its exploitative value, empathy needs to be part of the equation.

Sasha Sebright, MPhil in Conservation Leadership candidate at the University of Cambridge working in collaboration with the Luc Hoffmann Institute and UNEP-WCMC.

The content of this thought piece represents the author’s own views and does not necessarily represent the views of the Gamifying Nature Conservation initiative nor of any of its collaborating institutions.

Related Reading: Gamifying Nature Conservation

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From valuation to revenue generation: A new report mapping the landscape for a nature economy

Recent years have seen the emergence of innovative financial transaction mechanisms designed to help reverse the alarming trends in biodiversity loss. If implemented at scale, these mechanisms could help to kickstart a nature economy, where financial flows would take account of the natural laws and boundaries of our planet.

A new report by the Luc Hoffmann Institute – Mapping the Landscape for a Nature Economy – provides an inventory of these new transaction mechanisms and a range of related enabling frameworks. In doing so, the report aims to stimulate discussion and creative exploration. Further research on how well the mechanisms perform is needed to identify those most likely to attract large capital providers.

“Since we live in a world motivated and driven by economic incentives, giving an economic value to nature should provide an incentive to preserve it,” says Adrian Dellecker, Head of Strategy and Development at the Luc Hoffmann Institute. “This report takes an important step towards creating a nature economy that bridges the gap between academic valuations of nature’s benefits and the real-world transactions that are needed to fund conservation.”

The report describes a total of 23 transaction mechanisms and examples of their implementation. The mechanisms range from fiscal interventions and regulatory instruments to new government-enabled markets, traditional market-based instruments and hybrid mechanisms. The inventory also lists enabling frameworks, which provide common approaches to accounting and valuation. And finally, it covers the global datasets and standards that are necessary for the transaction mechanisms to be scaled up.

The authors of Mapping the Landscape for a Nature Economy are Britta Rendlen, an independent advisor on sustainable finance, and David Uzsoki, who is Sustainable Finance Lead and Senior Advisor at the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). The report is published in collaboration with IISD and the MAVA Foundation.

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Exploring responses to corruption in natural resource management and conservation practice

Corruption undoubtedly plays a role in degrading nature, undermining conservation efforts, distorting good governance and disrupting communities around the world. Corruption is dynamic – it changes and develops over time and no two situations look exactly alike. There is therefore no single solution. This initiative aims to highlight how rethinking relationships between and across sectors, organisations and geographies could foster strong and collective action and enact systemic change.

Drawing on the ongoing project Targeting Natural Resource Corruption (TNRC), the Luc Hoffmann Institute is partnering with the TNRC project consortium to incubate anti-corruption responses by connecting conservation practitioners with existing corruption expertise from non-conservation sectors. By opening up dialogue and sharing cross-sectoral learning on corruption, its impact on natural resource and conservation outcomes, and what is known about addressing it, this initiative aims to enable conservation policy and programmatic leaders to question, explore and adopt fresh and effective approaches to corruption in global conservation practice. 

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This initiative brings together a group of leaders from within conservation and other key sectors to explore how corruption impacts conservation and what conservation practitioners might learn and adopt from other fields that have been testing anti-corruption strategies for decades – fields such as international development, peace-building, infrastructure development and governance. It is envisioned that this process will increase connection and capacity, allowing for new and more effective anti-corruption approaches across conservation and natural resource management.

Who we are working with

Related SDGs

Explore the impacts

Ideation

Incubation

September 2020

A co-creative and inclusive approach is adopted. The collaboration agrees to explore the variety of ways in which individuals and organisations from diverse sectors are currently framing and acting in response to corruption.

11 August 2021

Elizabeth Hart, Chief of Party, Targeting Natural Resource Corruption (TNRC) and Aled Williams, Senior Advisor at U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Center, write a thought piece exploring how knowledge sharing and new alliances between the conservation and anti-corruption communities have the potential to drive more effective anti-corruption responses for the conservation sector.

Spurring new cross-sectoral connections towards anti-corruption responses in conservation

Aspiration

By the end of 2021, participants commit to taking forward the symposium findings, insights and recommendations to influence the strategy and implementation of innovative anti-corruption measures in conservation and natural resource management.

Timeline ends here

Related resources

Spurring new cross-sectoral connections towards anti-corruption responses in conservation
An August 2021 thought piece by Elizabeth Hart, Chief of Party, Targeting Natural Resource Corruption (TNRC), World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Aled Williams, Senior Advisor at U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Center

CITES Secretariat welcomes the Political Declaration adopted at the United Nations General Assembly Special Session Against Corruption
A June 2021 news item issued by the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) Secretariat.

Madagascar: Overview of corruption and anti-corruption – Focus on the natural resources sector (especially rosewood, gold and wildlife)
A March 2021 case study by Kaunain Rahman, Research Coordinator at the U4 – Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, CMI.

A Political Ecology Lens for Addressing Corruption in Conservation and Natural Resource Management
A July 2020 TNRC Introductory Overview by Richard Nash, Technical Lead, Governance Practice, World Wildlife Fund.

Corruption and Anti-Corruption in Environmental and Resource Management
A May 2020 annual review by Luca Tacconi and David Aled Williams.

A Guide to Identifying Corruption Risks Along Natural Resource Supply Chains
A December 2019 TNRC Guide.

The environmental cost of corruption
An August 2020 article by Lauri Turpeinen at Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty.

If we truly want to ‘build back better’, we must tackle corruption in the wildlife trade
A March 2021 article by Willow Outhwaite, senior programme officer at TRAFFIC.

The Targeting Natural Resource Corruption (TNRC) project is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This content is the responsibility of TNRC, the Luc Hoffmann Institute and initiative partners, and does not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, the United States Government, or individual TNRC consortium members. WWF® and ©1986 Panda Symbol are owned by WWF. All rights reserved.

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Gamifying nature conservation

How could gamification techniques revolutionise the way people interact with and fund conservation efforts? Half of the global population lives in urban areas, largely disconnected from the natural world. The problems facing the planet can feel overwhelming and impossible for individuals to influence. As a result, it is becoming increasingly hard to engage people with and fundraise for conservation. But new technologies and data are available that can track and replicate wild animals and the landscapes in which they live. By using these technologies to tell animals’ stories and by harnessing successful marketplace models and gamification techniques, can we create a brand new revenue stream for wildlife conservation?

The Luc Hoffmann Institute and Internet of Elephants have teamed up to explore these questions in a new venture lab. If you would like to know more please register your interest here.

Who we are working with

Related SDGs

Explore the impacts

Ideation

November 2019

The Luc Hoffmann Institute partners with Internet of Elephants to explore a business model that turns conservation data (in this case, acoustic recordings of the sounds of animals in the wild) into a new revenue stream for conservation. A game prototype, ‘Howlers & Growlers’, is designed to entertain and amuse an audience by challenging them to imitate the sound of real animals, with a goal of raising users’ awareness of nature conservation issues.

July 2020

After looking more deeply into business and governance models and theories of change, the Luc Hoffmann Institute and Internet of Elephants launch Gamifying Nature Conservation. The project aims to further research and test the potential for gamification in the conservation sector, to engage and mobilise new audiences, as well as raise new revenue for on-the-ground conservation organisations.

Incubation

December 2020

Adrian Dellecker, Head of Strategy and Development at the Luc Hoffmann Institute, writes a thought piece exploring the potential power of gamification to create change within nature conservation.

How gamification could revolutionise conservation

June 2021

Sasha Sebright, MPhil in Conservation Leadership candidate at the University of Cambridge, working in collaboration with the Luc Hoffmann Institute and UNEP-WCMC, writes a thought piece exploring how gamification could help foster human empathy for nature.

Can gamification help bridge the human-nature empathy divide?

July 2021

Rafael Mares, Wildlife Data Scientist at Internet of Elephants, writes a thought piece on how harnessing wildlife data through gamification techniques might boost engagement and support for conservation efforts.

Is wildlife data gamification the key to engaging a new audience in conservation?

September 2021

The Luc Hoffmann Institute publishes ‘Using gamification in nature conservation’ by gamification expert PentaQuest, and Sasha Sebright, an MPhil candidate at the University of Cambridge. The report examines how storytelling and gamification can derive value from, and for, wildlife. It highlights some current and past initiatives, theories and lessons learned from these efforts.

Using gamification in nature conservation

Aspiration

To generate new revenue for conservation through innovative business models that leverage wildlife data and gamification techniques to reach previously untapped audiences.

Timeline ends here

Related resources

Is wildlife data gamification the key to engaging a new audience in conservation?
July 2021 thought piece by Rafael Mares, Wildlife Data Scientist at Internet of Elephants.

Can gamification help bridge the human-nature empathy divide?
June 2021 thought piece by Sasha Sebright, MPhil in Conservation Leadership candidate at the University of Cambridge, working in collaboration with the Luc Hoffmann Institute and UNEP-WCMC.

How gamification could revolutionise conservation
December 2020 thought piece by Adrian Dellecker, Head of Strategy and Development at the Luc Hoffmann Institute.

Using Games to Make the Case for Nature
June 2019 National Geographic talk by Gautam Shah, Founder of Internet of Elephants.

Gamification is key to nudging collective behaviour
December 2017 TEDx talk by Kerstin Oberprieler, CEO of PentaQuest.

Going into Business for Wildlife Conservation
April 2016 Stanford Social Innovation Review thought piece by Gautam Shah.

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The Future of Nature-Based Tourism: A new report on the impacts of COVID-19 and paths to sustainability

COVID-19 has led to an abrupt halt in nature-based tourism around the world, marked by travel restrictions, lockdowns and closures of protected areas. Unfortunately, when tourism stops, so too do the benefits of conservation, both for wildlife and local communities alike.

A new report by the Luc Hoffmann Institute – The Future of Nature-Based Tourism: Impacts of COVID-19 and paths to sustainability – outlines the challenges facing the nature-based tourism sector and offers recommendations for future resilience and sustainability. The author, Dr Anna Spenceley, is a leading authority in sustainable and responsible tourism with a focus on biodiversity conservation and protected areas, particularly in Africa.

While there have been some positive impacts from the global pause in tourism – such as a decrease in overtourism at popular destination sites, allowing wildlife the space to recover – it has also seen local livelihoods, many of which depend entirely on nature-based tourism, decimated and declines in revenues that go towards conservation efforts. 

An EU survey cited in the report found that 543 tourism operators working in African protected areas collectively employed 48,000 people, of whom more than half were recruited locally. On average, 65% of local staff members were on reduced wages and hours because of the pandemic, and more than half have put some (or all) of their local employees on leave without pay since February 2020. An estimated 94% of local employees would be affected by being on reduced wages, unpaid leave, being made redundant or unemployed if the crisis continues.

The report offers examples of some pathways to sustainable recovery, such as virtual tours and creating new tourism products with lower rates for domestic visitors. Technical and financial assistance are also being made available in the form of grants, crowdsourcing, and investment and facilitation platforms. An African-led collaborative platform, incubated by the Luc Hoffmann Institute in 2020, for example, is being developed by WWF to increase existing fundraising efforts, connect funders with beneficiaries and build resilience within African wildlife communities, in response to COVID-19. 

“The halt in tourism has been devastating for so many communities and conservation efforts, but the pause has also given people time to reassess priorities,” said Jon Hutton, WWF International Global Conservation Director and former Director of the Luc Hoffmann Institute. “Systems analysis is crucial for change, and research like this highlights the institute’s work in accelerating innovation and catalysing new approaches. It shows there is hope and a path toward recovery through diversification, resilience and sustainability.”

The research also emphasises the urgency of diversifying community livelihoods and conservation funding beyond a sole reliance on tourism. Since 2019, the Luc Hoffmann Institute has been working to address this need through Beyond Tourism in Africa, an innovation challenge held in partnership with the African Leadership University’s School of Wildlife Conservation and WWF-Africa. The challenge sought innovative ideas for how communities could diversify their incomes beyond tourism revenue. Fifteen winners were selected, with ideas ranging from live, virtual nature classrooms to rewilding initiatives, forest carbon payment systems and more.

“Assessing and understanding what actually happens when we experience shocks in our current systems is a key step to accelerating sustainable futures.”

“COVID-19 has forced us all to stop and reflect on how our world fundamentally works and for whom, and to consider alternate and better pathways. This report, and its research, open a door to discussion and new perspectives, which in turn can lead to systemic change and, eventually, a world in which all life on Earth can thrive together,” said Melanie Ryan, Director of the Luc Hoffmann Institute.

To learn more about the Luc Hoffmann Institute’s work on nature-based tourism and its incubation of the collaborative platform now being developed by WWF, please visit Securing the Future of Nature-based Tourism in Africa.