How can communities earn income from wildlife conservation beyond the tourism sector? Applications are now open for the Beyond Tourism in Africa innovation challenge. We’re seeking innovative, community-led, non-tourism sources of income from wildlife across Africa. Participants have the chance to win a place in the African Leadership University’s incubation programme and access to seed money.
Join us on 10 September 2020 for an open webinar, where you will learn more about the innovation challenge and find out how to apply. Hear from an exciting panel of conservation and wildlife experts, who we hope will inspire you with their experience of trying to transform livelihoods communities across Africa living near wildlife.
WEBINAR GOING BEYOND TOURISM IN AFRICA Diversifying community livelihoods from wildlife
Introduction to and background of the Beyond Tourism in Africa initiative
About the challenge prize: the African Leadership University’s Incubator Programme
How to apply and live Q&A
Inspirational short talks by our featured panelists on African wildlife conservation, innovative growth and sustainable, community-led income models
Speakers: Alice Ruhweza (Director, WWF Regional Office for Africa) Gautam Shah (Founder, Internet of Elephants) Fred Swaniker (Founder and CEO, African Leadership Group) Melissa De Kock (Community Conservation Specialist, WWF) Tolu Agunbiade (Entrepreneurship Program Manager, ALGroup) Elisabeth Losasso (Beyond Tourism in Africa Project Manager, Luc Hoffmann Institute)
Moderator: Julia Pierre-Nina (Senior Manager for Partnerships & Stakeholders, African Leadership University’s School of Wildlife Conservation)
Housekeeping: We’ll be running Q&As throughout the session so that you may ask questions.
Can’t join on the day, or need to leave early? If you can’t make it for the live session, don’t worry. We will also post recordings of the event on http://bit.ly/beyondtourismafrica.
Beyond Tourism in Africa is a space for innovative ideas that are urgently needed to allow people to live in harmony with nature. There is a clear need to diversify revenue beyond tourism as the only income stream. This is true for local communities as well as for many conservation initiatives. In many countries in Africa, communities are sustainably managing their natural resources and contributing significantly to global conservation efforts. However, these efforts are primarily dependent on tourism, including trophy hunting, to generate the necessary income to do so. New approaches are needed to enable communities to earn critical income and other benefits while also maintaining wildlife sustainably.
What do you mean when you refer to ‘wildlife’? Is this only about animals?
We use the term ‘wildlife’ in a broad sense that includes wild animals and plants. We encourage creative thinking, so ideas that apply to this challenge may focus on animals or any other aspect of the natural world.
What is the objective of this call? Is it improving community livelihoods? Or is it protecting wildlife? Or improving conditions for wildlife and natural resources?
This call has two interlinked objectives: to improve both community livelihoods and the conditions for wildlife and natural resources to thrive. An essential condition to improve livelihoods is to generate the financial means to enable communities to manage their wildlife, to obtain benefits that exceed the costs of living alongside wildlife (ex: trampled crops, killed livestock and even death), and so to continue choosing to live alongside wildlife and/or natural resources rather than converting natural habitats to other uses. There are many different ways to improve the conditions for wildlife and natural resources: restoring or protecting wildlife (fauna and flora), using natural resources in sustainable ways (land, forests, water, energy, minerals, etc) or reducing waste and emissions are a few examples. This objective could also include conserving a pristine environment, such as maintaining the forest cover in an area.
How can I be sure that my project improves conditions for wildlife and natural resources? What are the criteria for judging this element of the challenge?
As this challenge is co-organised by WWF, this element is very important for us and we want to set a high standard. It would not be enough to come up with a business idea that generates income and other benefits for communities and does not harm the environment. The idea must have an ambition to improve the current conditions for wildlife and natural resources. Your idea will be judged on the ambition you set out and whether it is feasible.
Why is this only about Africa?
This innovation challenge has a focus on Africa, as it is the focus of work of two of the partnering organisations (African Leadership University’s School of Wildlife Conservation and WWF Regional Office for Africa). However, we aim to find ideas that have the potential to be replicated in other parts of the world.
Why are you holding the challenge now?
Each of the partnering organisations had been future-planning for the wildlife conservation of tomorrow before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. We had begun exploring opportunities to diversify revenue streams for community-led conservation to reduce reliance on all forms of tourism. The breakdown of the tourism industry as a result of COVID-19 has highlighted the over-dependence on tourism and accelerated our efforts. The wider public has seen firsthand how a singular dependence on tourism revenue can have disastrous consequences for livelihoods and conservation actions in many countries around the world. The risk of over-dependence also applies to conservation initiatives that are largely funded by revenues from ecotourism.
Can I apply alone, as a team or both?
You may apply as an individual, or as team of up to three people.
My team includes more than 3 people. Why can’t we apply?
The ALU incubation programme can accommodate teams of up to 3 people. If more people around you want to engage, you can form more than one team, with different ideas.
Can my organisation apply?
No. Only physical persons are eligible for the challenge, as the winners will receive places on the African Leadership University’s incubation programme and this programme is only open to persons rather than organisations.
If you or someone from your organisation is interested in winning a place on the incubation programme, and have an idea that fits the criteria of the challenge, you are welcome to apply as an individual, or a team of up to three people.
Why does my idea need to be ‘high-growth’? Shouldn’t it focus on a specific community?
We are looking for ideas that ultimately can generate returns at the scale of tourism (which includes trophy hunting). The reason is that if communities do not benefit from wildlife, they are likely to shift to unsustainable alternatives, such as large scale cropping, livestock management and other non-wildlife-friendly land uses, with irreparable consequences for natural areas. A key problem with many ideas is that they are not scalable. By ‘scalable’ we mean replicable in other locations or having the potential to become a high-growth business. So the idea either needs to have growth potential at the same place, or be a model for somewhere else. We encourage people to think big and more long-term.
How can a project be simultaneously connected to a local community but also scalable to communities around the world?
It may well be that the same idea could be replicated elsewhere with adjustments for different local contexts and requirements. For example, the concept of payment for ecosystem services is used in different geographies, with different services and contexts.
Is this challenge mainly focused on southern and eastern Africa, or the whole of Africa?
The challenge is aimed at improving livelihoods for rural communities that live adjacent to wildlife across the whole continent of Africa.
Who are the judges?
All eligible applications will be evaluated by a panel of experts from the partnering organisations and key external experts with a track record in business development.
What are the judging criteria?
Ideas will be judged based on the five selection criteria outlined in the Application Details section of the challenge homepage. These criteria are reflected by eight detailed questions on the application form. Each of the five criteria is of equal importance. Diversity, gender inclusivity and social equity should be guiding principles for all successful ideas.
What happens to my idea if it is not chosen? Do you keep the rights to my idea?
The intellectual property rights to your idea remain with you. Only the reviewers will read your submission. Please refer to our terms and conditions for further details.
Why are communities mentioned so often in this call?
Communities play an essential role in the conservation of nature. An estimated 65% of the world is under some form of community governance and/or management (Rights and Resources Initiative, 2015); some estimate this coincides with areas holding 80% of the planet’s biodiversity (WWF, 2019). There are many successful examples of community-based conservation in Africa, where human wellbeing and the state of nature have both been improved through sustainable community management. However, the existing examples are primarily reliant on tourism.
I don’t have much/any experience in the environment sector. Can I still apply?
Yes, please do! We encourage people from all sectors to apply. Ideally, you have a team of people with backgrounds in different sectors. If you apply as an individual, before submitting your idea, you should aim to consult with people who can give you advice on aspects of the application that may be outside of your own expertise.
I have an idea relating to virtual/digital tourism. Can I apply?
Yes. Beyond Tourism in Africa excludes every form of tourism that requires the physical presence of the tourist in the destination. However, if you have an idea relating to virtual or digital tourism that does not require people to travel to a destination, please apply.
Will you accept tech-based ideas for scalable tech companies?
Technology-based solutions will be considered. In your application, ensure that you explain how compatible the technology is with the target community. As with all ideas, we are keen to know whether the local community has played a role in the design of the solution.
How many ideas will be chosen/awarded?
Between five and 15.
How much seed money will be awarded to winning ideas?
During the incubation programme, participants might receive a grant of up to US$10,000 from the organisers as early seed money.
How can I access funding through this challenge?
The purpose of this challenge is not direct funding. Rather, the challenge seeks to find and incubate new ideas. The selected applicants will receive places on the African Leadership University’s incubation programme and access to seed money during this programme. If you have an idea that fits the criteria of the challenge, and are interested in incubating this idea into a viable business with the help of professionals during an eight-month, online study programme, please apply.
Will there be any second/third/runner-up awards?
Between five and 15 successful ideas will be chosen, and all of these will receive the same awards: a place in the African Leadership University’s incubation programme and access to seed money. There are no further awards beyond this.
ABOUT THE ALU INCUBATOR PROGRAMME
What does the African Leadership University’s incubation programme entail?
The ALU School of Wildlife Conservation Incubator Programme is an 8-month part-time and virtual experience that supports teams with innovative and impactful ideas for wildlife conservation. Using our unique model, this programme transforms your ideas into a viable business.
Through our incubator, we support high-potential entrepreneurs with a drive to transform Africa through impactful and ethical ventures. For this particular cohort, our focus is on community-led, innovative and impactful ideas that derive income from wildlife and manage natural resources sustainably.
Our programme provides access to life-long learning and a community of peers, mentors and potential investors. At the end of the programme, all participants would be expected to successfully launch a venture with the opportunity for potential investment.
When does the programme commence?
The programme begins on Monday, 1 February 2021.
What are the main courses of the programme?
Our programme has three main modules: (1) Evaluating your Idea, (2) Building a Solution, and (3) Preparing for Launch. Below is a sneak peek into our programme structure:
What is the time commitment of the programme?
Each participant is expected to commit 3-5 hours weekly for the duration of the programme.
Do I need to attend the programme in person?
No. The programme is fully online and includes resources shared via a learning management system (a combination of articles and videos for participants to go through); live sessions with peers, mentors, and experts; and engagement activities (e.g. forum discussions, demo pitches, and peer feedback sessions).
In any given week, all these activities should take an average of 4 hours. This programme is designed such that participants spend more time actually building their ideas than going through content.
If a team is chosen, do all members of the team attend the programme together or just the team leader?
The whole team attends the programme, whether individually for a team of one, or together for teams of two or three. For this reason, teams can have a maximum of three people.
What happens after the programme finishes?
There will be a demo day to close out the programme. Successful teams will have the opportunity to compete for $10,000 in seed funding and pitch their idea to a group of investors.
With this challenge, we are seeking ideas that could help transform rural communities in Africa through innovative sources of income from wildlife that go beyond tourism. Participants have the chance to win a place in the African Leadership University’s incubation programme and access to seed money for their idea.
The purpose of Beyond Tourism in Africa is to find solutions that allow for the protection of nature while also providing sustainable livelihoods and economic resilience to the communities who manage land or live in close proximity to wildlife. One of the key selection criteria is that applicants must demonstrate their strong links to the geographic context of their idea. The community or communities the idea aims to help are and should be integral to this process.
Through the challenge, we hope to address a growing dependence on tourism revenue among rural communities in Africa, particularly in funding conservation efforts. The global shutdown caused by COVID-19 has highlighted the vulnerability of communities reliant solely on tourism and has accelerated the need for innovative solutions.
Anyone with a bold idea for a sustainable way to derive income from wildlife may apply. Applications from people within the African continent, from those with strong ties to wildlife-adjacent communities anywhere in Africa and from those with non-traditional conservation backgrounds are encouraged.
Participants have the chance to win a place in the African Leadership University’s incubation programme and access to seed money.
Background: the vulnerability of tourism
Over the past 30 years, conservation across the African continent has become heavily dependent on tourism for revenue – especially photographic tourism and trophy hunting. However, tourism is vulnerable in a myriad of ways, a fact highlighted by the global shutdown of travel caused by COVID-19.
The Beyond Tourism in Africa project emerged from a project initiated by WWF and the Luc Hoffmann Institute in March 2019 to look for revenue opportunities for community-based conservation that are not dependent on tourism or hunting. This work stemmed from a recognition of the threats to a conservation model that is heavily reliant on tourism-based income.
The first outcome of the project was a report, conducted by IIED / IUCN SULi, to inventory the range of existing non-tourism/hunting initiatives. The initial findings were presented at the ALU Business for Conservation Conference in September 2019 to entrepreneurs, financial experts and conservation professionals.
The collapse of tourism around the world because of the pandemic has shown this thinking to be prescient and accelerated the project’s pace, as the need for diverse revenue streams in Africa and elsewhere has become urgent.
Innovation challenge: when and how to apply
Beyond Tourism in Africa seeks innovators from around the world to submit ideas or business concepts that could provide new, non-tourism-based revenue from wildlife. The project’s ambition is to transform the way local communities derive benefits for the conservation of wildlife.
People from non-traditional conservation and alternative sectors, and those with strong ties to rural communities in Africa are encouraged to apply. Applicants may apply as individuals, or in teams of up to three people.
How can local communities continue to benefit from wildlife if neither tourism nor trophy hunting are viable options? Over the past 30 years, tourism has funded conservation activities in many countries, especially in the wildlife rich countries in Africa. Photographic tourism and trophy hunting have provided significant benefits to rural communities who share their land with wildlife.
However, all forms of tourism are extremely vulnerable to social, economic or political instability and changes in the international market. The shock to the tourism sector caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the vulnerability of a conservation model based primarily on tourism.
To prepare for a future in which communities might no longer be able to derive benefits from tourism, the Luc Hoffmann Institute is working with partners to identify, incubate and promote innovative ways of providing communities with income from wildlife, while managing their natural resources sustainably and improving their collective wellbeing.
Melissa de Kock, Senior Advisor at WWF-Norway for Conservation, Climate and Communities, suggests that the Luc Hoffmann Institute incubate an idea based on her work supporting community conservation in southern Africa. With climate change impacting wildlife and shocks to the tourism industry caused by disease outbreaks, it is becoming more urgent to “look beyond tourism and hunting for community benefits” to retain communities’ commitment and tolerance for wildlife management.
The Luc Hoffmann Institute and WWF-Norway commission a study by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Sustainable Use and Livelihoods (IUCN SULi) network to explore models for supporting wildlife conservation on community lands with a focus on southern and eastern Africa.
The Luc Hoffmann Institute and WWF-Norway engage with and challenge innovators directly at the Business of Conservation Conference in Africa. Ideas and leads are gathered to include in an upcoming analysis publication.
The Luc Hoffmann Institute publishes a thought piece by WWF-Norway’s Melissa de Kock about her work with the institute on finding and nurturing future business models for community-based conservation, with an initial focus on Africa.
The Luc Hoffmann Institute, the African Leadership University’s School of Wildlife Conservation and the WWF Regional Office for Africa launch the ‘Beyond Tourism Innovation Challenge’ to reach out to new thinkers, tangential sectors and especially young innovators.
‘GOING BEYOND TOURISM IN AFRICA: Diversifying Community Livelihoods from Wildlife’ webinar is held, featuring an informational session about the innovation challenge and live Q&A, as well as short inspirational talks by Alice Ruhweza (Director, WWF Regional Office for Africa), Gautam Shah (Founder, Internet of Elephants) and Fred Swaniker (CEO and Founder of the African Leadership Group).
More than 300 applications were submitted to the innovation challenge by individuals and teams from across the continent of Africa and around the world. There were 54 nationalities represented (a majority of them in Africa), and a vast age range from 16 to 87.
11 December 2020
A total of 15 winners of the Innovation Challenge are announced after a rigorous judging process involving a review by a diverse panel.
11 December 2020: The list of winners has now been announced! Please visit the news story for details and to see the full list.
The Luc Hoffmann Institute, the African Leadership University’s School of Wildlife Conservation and the WWF Regional Office for Africa are launching a global innovation challenge. We aim to discover and incubate new revenue models that do not depend on tourism, but still enable local communities within African countries to obtain their livelihoods from wildlife, manage their natural resources sustainably, and improve their collective wellbeing. Participants have the chance to win a place in the African Leadership University’s incubation programme and access to seed money.
What is the challenge?
Many communities across Africa rely on tourism to generate income and other benefits from wildlife on their land. However, all forms of tourism, including photographic tourism and trophy hunting, are extremely vulnerable to social, economic or political instability and changes in the international market.
In order for wildlife to survive on communal lands, communities that manage the land or live in close proximity to wildlife have to derive tangible benefits. Over the past 30 years, different forms of tourism have provided significant benefits, including revenues, to rural communities who share their land with wildlife. This income has enabled these communities to fund the operational costs of wildlife management, such as employment of community scouts to do patrols and monitor wildlife, institutional governance arrangements to ensure that the benefits are equitably used and distributed, and often other benefits like direct cash payments, school fees and community development projects. In this way, wildlife-based tourism not only funds nature conservation but also provides income and employment to a significant proportion of rural people in many African countries.
The shock to the tourism sector caused by the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the vulnerability of a conservation model based primarily on tourism. All touristic activity was brought to an abrupt end in March 2020 when the world responded to the pandemic with an almost total global shut down of commercial passenger flights and lockdown measures. Employees in the tourism sector lost their jobs and livelihoods, with a disproportionate impact on people in remote and rural areas. Before COVID-19, wildlife tourism directly contributed US$29.3 billion in GDP to the economy in Africa and directly provided 3.6 million jobs across the continent, over one-third of all jobs in tourism (36.3%).
With the prospect of very few tourist arrivals in the short-term, protected areas and other conserved lands have had problems paying the salaries of rangers and other staff, who must find other ways of sustaining their families. As people lose their jobs and livelihoods, there are growing fears of a surge in illegal hunting for both subsistence and to feed commercial trade due to the decreased patrolling of parks and conservation areas in an Africa that is in ‘lockdown’. While the prospects for recovery in the tourism sector are a matter of intense speculation, it is possible, and indeed likely, that it will take years to see a return to pre-pandemic levels of economic activity. Even when economic activity restarts, more resilient and sustainable wildlife economies are needed to diversify risks for communities, governments and the private sector.
Objectives of the innovation challenge
To discover and incubate new revenue models that do not depend on tourism, but still enable local communities in Africa to derive income from wildlife, manage their natural resources sustainably and improve their collective wellbeing.
What we are looking for ?
We are looking for innovative concepts, ideas, revenue or finance models that can generate sustained benefits for rural communities from wildlife conservation, beyond tourism. We are not calling for investment-ready proposals, but for ideas with high potential that might be developed during our incubation programme.
Guiding principles All ideas must create value for both communities and nature. We have laid out five equally important criteria that should be addressed in answering the questions in the application form. Diversity, gender inclusivity and social equity should be guiding principles for all successful ideas.
We are calling for submissions from anyone from any sector or background with bold and sustainable ideas for concepts, projects, businesses or products. Ideas must meet the following criteria for consideration:
Generates value (economic, social and cultural) for local community(ies) in Africa from wildlife or natural resources
Does not rely on tourism to generate revenue
Empowers communities with decision-making power and ensures their rights, dignity and livelihoods are a priority
Demonstrates to be feasible, financially sustainable and potentially scalable
Aims to improve the conditions for wildlife and natural resources.
All eligible applications will be evaluated by a panel of experts from the partnering organisations based on these criteria.
Definitions: We define the terms used within this challenge as follows:
Tourismincludes every form of tourism, both consumptive and non-consumptive, both local and international, that requires the physical presence of the tourist in the destination. Common examples include photographic tourism, trophy hunting, sport fishing and ecotourism. Innovative ideas around virtual tourism and online or digital opportunities are very welcome.
Wildlifeencompasses both fauna and flora. Domesticated species do not fall under this definition.
Ruralcommunities or communities are those managing wildlife or habitats, as well as communities living in the proximity of wildlife habitats.
Scalablemeans replicable in other locations or the potential to become a high-growth business. A high-growth business would eventually have the potential to generate returns at the scale of tourism, including trophy hunting.
Innovative means a new and original idea, project, business, etc. The idea can also be based on something existing, but must incorporate an important change that allows it to meet the requirements of the challenge. Examples might be an innovation that makes a business model scalable, brings financial sustainability, gives decision-making powers to communities, etc. Innovative ideas are by no means reduced to technology.
Innovators from around the world are welcome to apply, especially people from non-traditional backgrounds and those with strong ties to rural communities in Africa.
Who: Any individual or team with bold ideas from around the world may apply, but we are especially seeking solutions from within Africa itself, and we will look favourably at applications from within the continent. On the application form, applicants must demonstrate their strong links to the geographic context of their idea.
Age: There is no age limit for applicants. However, to be considered for the ALU incubation programme, the team lead must be at least 18 years old and teams may have a maximum of 3 members.
Language: Submissions must be in English, but we strongly encourage both native and non-native English speakers to apply. No judgements will be made on language proficiency. Please note: the ALU incubation programme offered to selectees is conducted in English.
Sector: We strongly encourage teams composed of people from different sectors, and particularly from outside the conservation sector. Applicants do not need a history of working on conservation-related projects or ideas.
A place in the ALU’s incubation programme and access to seed money.
Up to 15 ideas will be selected. Successful applicants will win a place in the African Leadership University’s 8-month incubation programme, culminating in a public pitch to top investors. The programme commences in February 2021 and will run over eight months. It is a part-time, virtual programme.
The African Leadership University Incubator Programme supports high-potential entrepreneurs with a drive to transform Africa through impactful and ethical ventures. The programme provides access to life-long learning and a community of peers, mentors and potential investors. At the end of the programme, all participants would be expected to successfully launch a venture with the opportunity for potential investment. For this particular cohort, the programme is focused on impactful ideas in the wildlife conservation sector, with entrepreneurs going through an 8-month experience that uses a unique model that can transform their ideas into a viable business. If you apply as a team and your team is successful, a maximum of three team members will be admitted to the programme.
During the incubation programme, participants may receive a grant of up to US$10,000 from the organisers as early seed money.
The programme is set to start in February 2021 and will run over eight months. It is a part-time, virtual programme.
What kinds of innovative ideas, revenues or finance models are we looking for?
We're looking for promising options to diversify income for communities. For example, payment schemes for ecosystem services, generation of carbon, wildlife or biodiversity credits, wild product trade, sustainable agriculture and forestry, or certification schemes, to name a few. ‘Diversifying local livelihoods while sustaining wildlife’ is a useful resource with illustrative examples of emerging new initiatives. It provides a snapshot of different models for community-based conservation, mainly in southern and East Africa, and is accompanied by an inventory of more than 130 community conservation initiatives. While the review and the inventory present a good overview, these initiatives have not been analysed in detail and the innovation challenge selection criteria have not been applied to them.
To help you prepare, below you'll find a preview of the questions contained on the application form.
What is the problem you are trying to solve? In which geographic area (country, region, specific site) are you trying to solve the problem? Describe the specific problem that your idea will solve, using non-expert language. Focus on setting the stage for your solution, rather than describing how you intend to solve it. (200 words or less)
Describe how you intend to solve this problem and how this solution will create value (economic, social, cultural) for communities. Which community or communities are you targeting and how? Please mention if the target community(ies) have played a role in the design of the solution. (300 words or less)
How does your idea aim to improve the conditions for wildlife and natural resources? (200 words or less)
What makes your idea innovative? (150 words or less)
How could your idea be implemented in practice (assuming you would have the financial means)? In answering this question, think practically and describe at least one risk (eg social, environmental, economic) associated with the idea and how it might be mitigated. (200 words or less)
How would your idea be sustained financially over time? (150 words or less)
Is the idea scalable? Describe its potential to be replicated in other locations (globally) for the benefit of other communities or to become a high-growth, sustainable business. A high-growth business would eventually have the potential to generate returns at the scale of tourism, including trophy hunting. (200 words or less)
Describe your personal or team links to the geographic, social or cultural context of your idea. How does the idea benefit from the strengths, expertise and assets of yourself and your team members? (150 words or less)
On Thursday September 10 2020, we hosted a webinar: ‘GOING BEYOND TOURISM IN AFRICA: Diversifying Community Livelihoods from Wildlife’. The webinar featured an informational session about the innovation challenge and live Q&A, as well as short inspirational talks.
Alice Ruhweza (Director, WWF Regional Office for Africa)
Gautam Shah (Founder, Internet of Elephants)
Fred Swaniker (CEO and Founder of the African Leadership Group)
Melissa De Kock (Community Conservation Specialist, WWF)
Tolu Agunbiade (Entrepreneurship Program Manager, ALGroup)
Elisabeth Losasso (Beyond Tourism in Africa Project Manager, Luc Hoffmann Institute)
If you were not able to attend, you can watch the full recording below.
A new commentary published in Nature Sustainability highlights a need for greater diversity, justice and creativity in efforts to rebalance humanity’s relationship with the natural world. Citing three evocative scenarios of what the future of life on Earth might look like, the article aims to spark conversations about the choices society makes for humanity and nature.
Set in 2050, the scenarios portray the potential consequences of decisions and events in the coming years. Though none are inevitable, the stories are based on existing and emerging narratives, strategies and trade-offs for biodiversity, climate, human health, conservation and sustainable development. Authored by a diverse group, including a strong and inspiring set of early career voices, this piece shines a light on the contrasting worldviews and priorities that will shape our futures and provides a snapshot of how diversity in collaboration prompts us to think differently.
At the heart of the commentary is the need for biodiversity to cross-pollinate with other fields, and move beyond “us vs them” mentalities. We can no longer live in linear, siloed spaces, but must take a fresh, conscious, integrated approach. Our futures depend on innovation and collaboration, people and nature, justice and eco-sustainability, gender equity and development.
“It is beautifully unique to see a high-profile, science-based commentary piece focused on future scenarios and written by young voices in narrative form,” says Rebecca Shaw, Chief Scientist WWF. “This is a new generation’s take on communicating science, not unlike the rise of street art as a form of a more activist and uncompromising set of voices.”
This commentary caps the two-year, Luc Hoffmann Institute-led Biodiversity Revisited initiative, a global, collaborative review of the narratives, principles and practices underpinning biodiversity.
The project culminated in publication of the Biodiversity Revisited research and action agenda, designed to rethink biodiversity research and generate new conservation actions that put justice at the centre of our efforts. The full agenda is available on ResearchGate and the Luc Hoffmann Institute website, and a synthesised version is under review for publication in Conservation Biology. The foundations for Biodiversity Revisited were laid by Seeds of Change, a compilation of provocative reviews and essays about how to sustain a biodiverse world.
Accompanying the Nature Sustainability commentary will be a thought piece on the Nature Communities website and an interview with Luc Hoffmann Institute Director Jon Hutton and Head of Programme (ad-interim) Melanie Ryan. This offers a candid review of the Biodiversity Revisited journey, including the challenges and impacts of a collaboration involving almost 300 people from diverse countries, sectors, disciplines, and career stages.
The commentary appears in the latest issue of Nature Sustainability and is available open access for four weeks.
The Nature Sustainability commentary authors are: Carina Wyborn, Federico Davila, Laura Pereira, Michelle Lim, Isis Alvarez, Gretchen Henderson, Amy Luers, Kristal Maze, Maria Jose Martinez-Harms, Jasper Montana, Melanie Ryan, Chris Sandbrook, Rebecca Shaw, Emma Woods.
This September 2020, a new documentary, Wetlands: The Legacy of Luc Hoffmann, created by Orca Productions and supported by the MAVA Foundation, will be released in cinemas throughout Switzerland.
Directed and produced by Stephen Rytz, the film offers viewers an opportunity to discover the fascinating story of Luc Hoffmann’s life and legacy. Heir to the Roche pharmaceutical laboratories in Switzerland and a passionate ornithologist and scientist, he was the first in his field to demonstrate the importance of wetlands to the planet – and human survival – back in the 1950s.
Luc dedicated his life to the conservation of five unique wetland areas, in particular:
The Camargue in France
The Doñana in Spain
The Prespa lakes which span areas across Greece, Albania and the Republic of North Macedonia
Banc D’Arguin in Mauritania
Bijagos in Guinea-Bissau
His lifelong perseverance and commitment ensured that these precious wetlands, high conservation value sites home to a wealth of biodiversity, remain protected today. Among many achievements, his legacy includes the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands – an international treaty established in 1973 for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands – for which he was a key driving force.
The film is scheduled for September 2020 release in selected cinemas throughout Switzerland. It originally debuted at a number of international film festivals at the end of 2019, with further planned releases delayed due to COVID-19.
The Covid-19 pandemic has created multiple disruptions to the way society works: the near total suspension of global travel is one of these. Where global tourism revenues have been helping to deliver biodiversity conservation and local livelihoods, the pandemic has dramatically altered the trajectory of many local economies.
It is no exaggeration to say that the collapse of wildlife tourism threatens to compromise decades of development and conservation work in nature-rich and emblematic parts of Africa. It has also made the frailty of nature conservation and livelihoods dependent on nature-based tourism increasingly apparent. How can we regain what we have lost while building a more resilient future, looking beyond tourism, for people and nature conservation in Africa?
Luc Hoffmann Institute Advisory Council member Bill Adams writes a piece in his Thinking like a human blog called “COVID-19 and Conservation”, which questions how conservation will be impacted and reimagined in the aftermath of the pandemic.
On May 20th, the Luc Hoffmann Institute holds an online convening with more than 70 interested parties, to engage with the idea of a Collaborative Platform to address tourism systems in Africa impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Following this, the institute mobilises 120+ external key actors in personal consultations.
The Luc Hoffmann Institute invests USD 175,000 into the design process for the Collaborative Platform. The institute works with WWF-US, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and a range of stakeholders to develop a Medium-sized Project (MSP) proposal for funding to support the further development.
USD 1.9m funding is secured from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) for implementation by WWF-US. WWF-US becomes the formal executing agency for the grant, but consultations are underway with African-based organisations to identify a host that will provide the Secretariat and lead the Platform.
The Luc Hoffmann Institute, in collaboration with WWF-US, designs a detailed concept for submission to the GEF for consideration. This intensive process involves the establishment of a clear theory of change and a draft schematic plan to implement the whole initiative. Additional stakeholder consultations take place to develop and strengthen the Collaborative Platform.
Commitments of USD 5,269,281 in co-financing received from: the MAVA Foundation, African Safari Foundation, Fauna & Flora International (FFI), the Frankfurt Zoological Society, Maliasili, Resource Africa, Royal African Safaris, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP). This funding serves to immediately unlock the GEF-allocated funds.
October – December 2020
The Luc Hoffmann Institute and WWF-US work on the project document for the GEF, in this final stage of incubation for the Collaborative Platform. WWF-US submits this to the GEF in December 2020. The WWF Regional Office for Africa is confirmed as the host secretariat for the project.
The goal is to amplify existing fundraising efforts and support the activities of community stakeholders who are the custodians of the landscapes and wildlife, and upon whom successful tourism activities depend.
Innovative business models for life on Earth A Luc Hoffmann Institute thought leadership initiative pointing to possible new ways to sustain conservation and livelihoods. The initiative contributes to the third stream of the Collaborative Platform by helping to source longer-term measures to improve the resilience of African conservation strategies.
Editorial Essay: COVID-19 and Protected and Conserved Areas (external document) This special editorial provides a snapshot of how protected and conserved areas around the world are being impacted by COVID-19. For many protected and conserved areas, negative impacts on management capacity, budgets and effectiveness are significant, as are impacts on the livelihoods of communities living in and around these areas.
A two-year collaboration involving nearly 300 people of 46 nationalities has culminated in a new agenda that charts a course for more effective biodiversity research and action for the next five years.
The agenda is the result of Biodiversity Revisited, an initiative conceived by the Luc Hoffmann Institute that has looked at why the world has failed to stop biodiversity loss and what large-scale changes are needed to sustain diverse and just futures for life on Earth. The initiative carried out the first comprehensive review of the concepts, research, policies and practices underpinning biodiversity conservation since the term emerged in the 1980s.
The diversity of life that sustains humanity is being severely degraded by human action. This is leading to a deterioration in land, air and water quality, loss of natural ecosystems and widespread declines in populations of wild species. These changes are well documented and of existential significance to human societies, yet significant knowledge about the problem has not catalysed effective, broad-based action. Biodiversity has not, generally speaking, proved to be a compelling object for sufficient action to halt the degradation of the diversity of life on earth.
This research agenda is based on the premise that humanity is part of biodiversity and that we are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide. It urges the conservation community to think more broadly and draw on different perspectives, such as the political, legal, economic, social, cultural, and philosophical.
“This agenda is an invitation to consider a new way of thinking and acting in tackling interconnected challenges, whether local or global,” says Dame Georgina Mace, Professor of Biodiversity and Ecosystems at University College London. “We hope it inspires collaboration between different sectors of society and academia, and invite researchers, policy-makers and funders to take the agenda forward to radically change the way conservation is done.”
A strong interdisciplinary research agenda is critical at a time when global inequalities exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and further highlighted by the Black Lives Matter protests have reinforced the need for justice to be at the centre of our efforts. With society undergoing seismic shifts in every aspect of life, holistic collaboration across sectors, disciplines and communities is more important than ever if we are to achieve sustainable futures.
The Biodiversity Revisited agenda aims to guide researchers, practitioners and decision-makers in reframing biodiversity research with a holistic approach that puts an emphasis on justice and the inclusion of a diversity of perspectives.
Four main themes are covered encompassing a series of research questions designed to broaden thinking and collaboration, and encourage a more comprehensive understanding of what constitutes ‘desirable’ futures.
“Revisiting biodiversity narratives” addresses the entrenched concepts and narratives that have separated humans, cultures, economies and societies from nature.
“Anthropocene, biodiversity, and culture”explores perspectives on the fundamental and evolving relationships between biodiversity and human cultures.
“Nature and economy” examines the existing economic and financial systems, which are some of the primary drivers of biodiversity loss.
“Enabling transformative biodiversityresearch and change” draws all of these together, focusing on what individuals and institutions can do to embrace and open up spaces for transformative change by expanding the knowledge, values and cultures utilised within biodiversity research.
The agenda advocates changes in the way institutions fund, review and conduct research. These could involve adopting more flexible objectives, unlocking funding for inter- and transdisciplinary research and action, integrating professionals across different career stages, and creating equal opportunities for marginalised voices. While interdisciplinary research is increasing, there continues to be a lag in including non-academic voices in research projects, notably those from marginalised communities.