The Luc Hoffmann Institute’s Advisory Council for 2021 and beyond

Bringing in new thinking from the outside is an important component of innovation, and working with both WWF and non-WWF partners is and always has been critically important to the institute. With Melanie Ryan as its new director, and with its recent adoption as a key part of WWF International’s Global Conservation Division, the Luc Hoffmann Institute has strengthened its Advisory Council for 2021 and beyond. 

To guarantee its independence of thought as it transitions to serve as an engine for innovation within WWF, the Luc Hoffmann Institute is proud to have several new council members joining. “This is an exciting time for the institute as well as for our current and potential innovators and funders,” says Melanie Ryan, Director of the Luc Hoffmann Institute. “The institute is currently refreshing its strategy and positioning, and considering how the brand can be strengthened to reflect its role as an incubator of innovation efforts. With such a strong Advisory Council, I am confident that the institute can bring all its expertise and experience to bear on the 21st century challenges to nature conservation: encouraging diversity of thought, shaping inclusive agendas where everyone has a part to play, and incubating new ideas that move us all toward future horizons for society.”

What is the Luc Hoffmann Institute Advisory Council?

The Luc Hoffmann Institute Advisory Council is a body that helps guarantee the institute’s integrity and independence, and comprises diverse expertise in relevant fields. Principally, the Advisory Council provides timely, strategic, independent advice and guidance, participates in quality assurance activities, helps ensure that the institute’s portfolio remains independent and true to its vision and mission, and helps extend the institute’s engagement and reach within WWF and among other networks.

Who is on the council?

The Luc Hoffmann Institute has the privilege of welcoming both new and returning members of the council. The new members joining the council are: 

  • Isis Alvarez, Senior Gender Advisor at the Global Forest Coalition, who has been actively engaged in campaigns and international advocacy work around sustainable management of forests by communities and for communities with a strong gender component
  • Elizabeth Ojo from the African Leadership University, where she helped set up and is now Director of Operations for the School of Wildlife Conservation, co-designing and implementing the school’s strategy for promoting conservation as an African growth sector by developing, equipping and informing entrepreneurial conservation leaders. 
  • Dermot O’Gorman, Chief Executive Officer of WWF-Australia, who has been a global leader in sustainable development for over two decades. He has driven innovation thinking within WWF, especially on digital technologies, overseeing the establishment of WWF Panda Labs. 
  • Thomas Vellacott is Chief Executive Officer of WWF Switzerland, working to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature. Before joining WWF professionally, he worked for Citibank and McKinsey & Co.

Read more about all twelve members of the Advisory Council here

Jon Hutton to chair the Advisory Council

In late 2020, Adil Najam stepped down as Chair of the Advisory Council. “Serving as the Chair of the Luc Hoffmann Institute has been one of the great honours of my career. To be associated with the name and legacy of Luc Hoffmann is itself a privilege and I have cherished the ability this has given me to work with dedicated professionals and thought leaders who believe passionately in the vision of the institute to catalyse innovation and transformative change for conservation and for a sustainable planet,” says Adil. Jon Hutton has taken on the role as Chair of the Advisory Council, bringing insight and advice from the ranks of WWF International to the Luc Hoffmann Institute as he settles into his new role as WWF International Global Conservation Director.

About the Luc Hoffmann Institute

The Luc Hoffmann Institute aims to be the world’s leading catalyst for innovation and transformative change to maintain biodiversity, the foundation of all life on Earth. We create the conditions for new approaches to emerge, identify and mobilise the most promising innovators and ideas, and provide a flow of impactful, de-risked and exciting initiatives for investors. Our passionate and open-minded team is dedicated to driving societal change for nature and people to thrive together. Learn more at, connect with us on LinkedIn, or follow us on Twitter @LucHoffmannInst.


We are hiring a project communication manager

Might you or someone you know be the missing piece of the puzzle? We are looking for an enthusiastic, strategic (marketing) communication professional with a passion for social innovation, nature and people. This position is transversal, working across our entire portfolio. Applications are highly encouraged from systems-thinkers with change management experience and an innovative mindset.
Apply here via LinkedIn.


Melanie Ryan appointed Director of the Luc Hoffmann Institute

WWF International has appointed Melanie Ryan, current Head of Programme, as Director of the Luc Hoffmann Institute, effective 15 March 2021.

Melanie will remain based in the UK, from where she will lead the institute’s international team in developing its innovation and funding strategy as an incubator of ideas that accelerate the nature conservation sector’s efforts.  

A seasoned sustainability and environmental leader, Melanie has been a part of the Luc Hoffmann Institute since 2015, gaining experience as a facilitative, inclusive leader heading the institute’s overall programme and prior to that, its capacity development and fellows programme. She has over 15 years of experience in areas including non-for-profit organisations, government, research and the private sector, and has led teams spanning diverse geographies. She is versed in empowering societal systems change for the benefit of nature conservation and sustainability in ways that incorporate inclusivity, diversity and innovation.

“I am proud that we have been able to fill this role internally,” said Jon Hutton, WWF’s Global Conservation Director and former Director of the Luc Hoffmann Institute. “Melanie has shown passion, perseverance and commitment to the empowerment of others throughout the years I have worked with her at the institute. I am confident that her skills will enable the institute to further differentiate its thought leadership and incubation capabilities for nature and people to flourish.” 

Catherine Power, Director of Strategy and Partnerships at WWF, added: “We are thrilled to have a talent like Melanie to head the Luc Hoffmann Institute team. The WWF International recruitment panel was deeply impressed by the vision Melanie shared, by the approach she has articulated for guiding the institute’s transition and future, and by the creativity and enthusiasm she brings to considering the complex conservation challenges we must address in the coming years.”


The Luc Hoffmann Institute brings together diverse thinkers to develop a standard for human-wildlife coexistence

As the human population grows and environmental issues such as climate change and habitat degradation escalate, negative interactions between wildlife and people are predicted to increase in both frequency and intensity. This in turn leads to conflicts between groups of people with different interests, values and power. Who makes the decisions about interactions between wild animals and people? Who writes the rules, and who implements them? Who mediates and what is ‘good’ governance in these circumstances? 

On 11 February 2021, the Luc Hoffmann Institute and Griffith University convened a group of 33 individuals, including conservationists, researchers, human rights specialists, foundations and development banks, and representatives from community groups, for a three-hour spirited and progressive discussion to begin developing a task force and sowing the seeds of funding for a new standard for human-wildlife coexistence.

The convening was a culmination of work that the Luc Hoffmann Institute and Griffith University have undertaken since 2018 to strengthen the management of human-wildlife conflict (HWC) and achieve more sustainable coexistence between wildlife and people. In 2020, the Luc Hoffmann Institute published  ‘The State of Knowledge and Practice on Human Wildlife Conflicts’, pointing the way to developing a standard to guide and improve approaches to HWC globally.

Introducing the convening, Jon Hutton, formerly Director of the Luc Hoffmann Institute and recently appointed Executive Director, WWF Global Conservation Impact, remarked on the importance of addressing human-wildlife conflicts: “Conservationists are incredibly resourceful and full of ideas. We’ve all been innovative, but our energy and tools are useless unless we ensure conflicts are mediated by professionals who are trained to do so. I would be reluctant as a donor to fund any initiative that doesn’t have guidelines, including for human rights and dignity.”

Addressing the need for a standard, Duan Biggs emphasised that human-wildlife conflict is, at heart, conflict between people, but the skills to facilitate and mediate such conflict is often very limited within conservation.

What would a standard for human-wildlife coexistence look like?

Participants heard from a panel of speakers that included Alexandra Zimmermann of the IUCN SSC Human-Wildlife Conflict Task Force, who spoke about the development of existing guidelines and how these can and should be linked with a new standard. 

Brisetha Hendricks from Ûibasen Twyfelfontein Conservancy offered a Namibian community perspective on why current strategies for managing human-wildlife conflict are insufficient, emphasising that human-wildlife conflict is not new but that situations have worsened for communities as a direct result of tourism downturns due to the pandemic. Isla Hodgson, conservation social scientist from the University of Stirling, gave an overview of standards in conservation and explained the need for a standard to be tailored for local contexts.

Researchers then presented findings from research conducted for two reports in conjunction with the event. Nigel Dudley and Sue Stolton of Equilibrium Research spoke on the value addition of a standard for human wildlife coexistence to existing guidelines and standards, and Harry Jonas of Future Law discussed human rights, responsibilities and relationships in developing a standard.

Illustration by Robert Laszlo Kiss

Panelist talks were followed by lively Q&A sessions, breakout discussions and a ‘fishbowl’ roundtable session in which participants offered their insights and thoughts. The session was introduced by brief talks from:

  • Thierry Lefebvre – IUCN WCPA Green List
  • Khalid Pasha – CA|TS Manager, WWF Tigers Alive Initiative
  • Nyambe Nyambe – Executive Director, KAZA TFCA Secretariat 
  • Jacques van Rooyen – Conservation International 
  • Sybille Klenzendorf – Director, Wildlife Science and Monitoring, WWF Germany

By the end of the event, there was consensus about the potential usefulness of a global standard for human-wildlife coexistence, as discussions moved toward what that standard could and should look like.

Where next? 

Duan Biggs and Griffith University invite interested stakeholders to form a task force that will design and drive forward a new standard for human-wildlife coexistence. If you would like to be part of the task force, contribute your ideas or want to be involved in funding the important work of achieving resilient human-wildlife coexistence, please contact Duan Biggs at


Reaching full nature recovery by 2050: The Luc Hoffmann Institute catalyses a new global nature-positive strategy

While the COVID-19 lockdowns have shown how life could be different for our planet, they have also shed light on how unsuitable our current socioeconomic systems are for the well-being of nature and people. Nature is in crisis, undermining nature’s contributions to human well-being, and representing a major risk to the global economy. Yet a ‘Nature Positive’ future can now be paired with a ‘Carbon Neutral’ future with a goal of full recovery by 2050 – the goal is ambitious and also achievable. But ‘bending the curve’ on biodiversity loss requires transformative change. 

The post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, which the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity will meet to adopt in 2021, is an opportunity to drive such change, with a bold vision of ‘living in harmony with nature’ by 2050. However, ambitious goals are only meaningful if they can be mainstreamed into society and translated into action.

To help devise a mainstreaming strategy around no-net loss and nature positive principles, the Luc Hoffmann Institute convened a diverse group of leaders and thinkers at the World Economic Forum in early 2020, including representatives from the United Nations, WWF, the Business for Nature coalition, Systemiq, Microsoft, IUCN, the universities of Oxford and Kent, the MAVA Foundation and other representatives from government, conservation organisations and the private sector. The group explored what an apex target for biodiversity could look like and debated the merits of no-net-loss and net positive approaches. 

Stemming from that convening, and in preparation for this year’s Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, researchers from 22 institutions, led by the University of Oxford’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science and including Jon Hutton, Director of the Luc Hoffmann Institute and now Global Conservation Director for WWF International, have authored a bold new method that provides a way for everyone to play a role in achieving harmony with nature by 2050. The paper, published here by One Earth, shows how to change our overall impact from negative to positive through a four-step ‘Mitigation and Conservation Hierarchy’:

  • The refrain step involves avoiding negative impacts on nature as far as possible.
  • The reduce step involves minimising damage to nature where it cannot be completely avoided.
  • The restore step involves remediating any immediate damage to nature.
  • The renew step involves investing in revitalising nature.

“This decade and indeed this year must be the turning point, where we transform humanity’s relationship with nature and put the planet on a path to recovery,” says Hutton.

Indeed, the upcoming meeting of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the future adoption of a new Global Biodiversity Framework, represent an opportunity to transform humanity’s relationship with nature. Restoring nature while meeting human needs requires a bold vision which will only succeed if biodiversity conservation becomes mainstream. The One Earth publication presents an overarching framework to support this, with practical implementation tips for policymakers, individuals, private sector organisations, non-governmental organisations and researchers available on the Mitigation and Conservation Hierarchy website

What is the Convention on Biological Diversity? 

United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is one of three international environment agreements that emerged from the Rio Earth Summit held in 1992.

The other two agreements are:

  • the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and
  • the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.

About the Luc Hoffmann Institute

The Luc Hoffmann Institute aims to be the world’s leading catalyst for innovation and transformative change to maintain biodiversity, the foundation of all life on Earth. We create the conditions for new approaches to emerge, identify and mobilise the most promising innovators and ideas, and provide a flow of impactful, de-risked and exciting initiatives for investors. Our passionate and open-minded team is dedicated to driving societal change for nature and people to thrive together. Learn more at, connect with us on LinkedIn, or follow us on Twitter @LucHoffmannInst.


WWF-US developing new African-led Collaborative Platform incubated by the Luc Hoffmann Institute

A new African-led Collaborative Platform designed to connect funders with beneficiaries and build resilience within African wildlife communities, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, has been incubated by the Luc Hoffmann Institute and successfully transitioned to WWF-US.

After a six month incubation period to design the initiative to the advanced concept phase, WWF-US took on full responsibility for the project in September 2020, as the implementing and executing agency of the lead funder, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), to develop the full work programme and lead its implementation.

Following the recent submission of the final project document to the GEF, WWF-US will guide further development of the initiative and work with the host secretariat, the WWF Regional Office for Africa, to lead and deliver the platform in the region. 

The Luc Hoffmann Institute initiated the project back in April 2020, with the pandemic underway and the ensuing global collapse of tourism just beginning. Following an idea sparked internally as an initial response to this, the institute conducted an extensive literature review and research into the impacts that COVID-19 was having on nature-based tourism in Africa. This work highlighted the fact that rural communities – custodians of the landscapes and often marginalised – were not able to access enough emergency relief funding and were at high risk of losing their livelihoods.

In the six months that followed, the institute worked with a range of expert organisations in Africa and globally to develop and test the platform concept, and importantly, to look at ways to build resilience in the long term as well as relief in the medium term. 

The Institute invested USD 175,000 in the groundwork, drawing on technical expertise within the institute and other organisations. Large scale mapping exercises on data and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as well as nature-based tourism trends were carried out while existing platforms and funding sources were investigated. In a truly collaborative effort, organisations such as the IUCN Eastern and Southern Africa, Vizzuality, Maliasili, Resource Africa, the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and the UN Development Programme were mobilised to support – along with community organisations on the ground.

More detail on key milestones and collaborative achievements to date can be found here.

Now that WWF-US’ work with GEF project partners and the WWF Regional Office for Africa is firmly underway, the collective ambition – assuming final confirmation of the funding –  is to launch the African-led Collaborative Platform in 2021, to support communities on the ground first and foremost, and to recover and build back better – protecting people and nature.

Please contact Nikhil Advani at for information and future updates on the project.


How gamification could revolutionise conservation

A thought piece by Adrian Dellecker, Head of Strategy and Development at the Luc Hoffmann Institute. 

Gamification: adding game-like mechanics on top of the real world in order to increase engagement and effectiveness. Gamification is far more ubiquitous, and powerful, than generally acknowledged or understood.

I’m a casual runner, and I know firsthand the power of gamification because of the ‘Nike Run Club’ app I’ve had on my phone since May 2011.

The Nike app keeps track of your runs, average pace, total kilometres, heartbeat, etc. But it does far more than that. It assigns you ‘levels’; it keeps track of your records (fastest pace, longest run time, furthest distances) and issues you badges based on performance, such as for the number of consecutive weeks or months you’ve gone running.

The end result is that the app encourages you to run without explicitly asking you to. It taps into your internal competitive spirit, and an intrinsic reward system we humans have. I love running, but sometimes I need that extra nudge: am I really willing to break my 8-week running streak if I don’t go today? Can I beat my record of kilometres per month? Can I run a kilometre faster than last year? Even my status of being a “Member since May 2011” is a badge of honour. I’m not bound to jump to another app lightly. Smart move by Nike.

Gamification occurs daily in other more mundane settings: when your supermarket issues points per purchase or trophies for certain behaviours. Or your local coffee shop gives you the first two stamps free on their loyalty card (this is called the ‘Endowed Progress Effect’).

Gamification has the potential for massive, positive global impact. If, like I was, you are new to this concept, the brilliant TEDx talks by Jane McGonigal, Yu-Kai Chou and Kerstin Oberprieler are the best places to start learning more.

Gamification hacks the brain

Gamified environments can significantly affect and influence behaviour. Importantly, these often tap into an intrinsic reward system (as opposed to one that is extrinsic, like relying on money or other direct reward): simply feeling good about completing tasks and having clear goals. Games share common features that help participants derive pleasure: an overall objective that provides a sense of purpose; straightforward rules that place limitations but give way to creativity; a feedback system to continuously inform players of how they are doing (including compared to others); and voluntary participation. And, as Jane McGonigal wrote in her book Reality Is Broken, “game developers know better than anyone else how to inspire extreme effort and reward hard work. They know how to facilitate cooperation and collaboration at previously unimaginable scales”.

A few visionaries, including those linked above, have talked and written about the potential benefits of games and gamification for impact. But gamification for good has also been put into practice: games have been tried in education (e.g. DragonBox), health (FoldIt), energy conservation (e.g. Opower, since purchased by Oracle), for example, to good success. Recently more than 171,000 gamers completed 47 million ‘mini game tasks’ equivalent to 36 years’ worth of categorising cells to help fight COVID-19.

The potential of gamification for good in conservation

There is reason to believe that gamification plays a particularly important role in the future of nature conservation, too. In part, I believe this is because this sector suffers from an inherent engagement issue: while the increasing majority of people live in urban environments, nature is ‘out there’, out of daily reach, and wild animals even more so. The digital world can act as a bridge, but only if it can help to create, or awaken, a link of empathy between humans and animals. Alenda Chang put it well when she said: “Game environments may invite affective and ethical engagement, not only with other people, but also animals, places, and even things.” 

Games and gamification can thus help carry human empathy for animals in far away areas, offering a perfect medium for nature conservation.

One possibility for gamification within conservation would be  a step evolution of the old and tested for ‘adopt an animal’ fundraising schemes so many NGOs depend on. Traditionally, these symbolic animal adoptions rely on single or recurring donations in exchange for a plush toy, an adoption certificate and/or some sporadic and general updates on the species. These are not linked to a specific animal the sponsor can relate to. Digital tools and gamification can help build individual personality profiles of specific animals, to which people could relate on a daily basis.

Good storytelling is also key, as is a visually compelling environment in which people adopting animals can feel empowered to make decisions. Internet of Elephants, a company based in Nairobi, does this very well, notably with their Satellite Stories and Stories from the Wild (the story of Fleur and Valentine the lions is particularly touching).

Imagine a digital space where people can track an animal’s whereabouts, get to know their habits, their migrations, their offspring’s birth, their difficulties, their death. A space that transforms a species from an abstract, faraway concept into a relatable, individual being. Gamification can bundle certain aspects of their wellbeing – the area they have to roam in, their security, their food supply – and engage their sponsors in their needs and daily life. Donations in this scenario are no longer donations: the situation becomes more akin to owners caring for a family pet. Unfettered by a faceless intermediary, the link is direct, offering a newfound proximity between sponsor and wildlife.

The technology exists to track not only the GPS coordinates, but also the habits and wellbeing of individuals. Packaging this into relatable profiles and actions may hold significant potential not only for fundraising, but for empathy and action. Think of a situation in which an adopted species is threatened by land encroachment, water pollution, drought, a new law or policy, or by a massive new infrastructure project. People could not only feel the threat, they would also feel more empowered to act.

Getting involved

The idea of gamification has opened the door to a whole new world of potential action for the conservation of nature and human empowerment. Perhaps, if well designed, millions of individuals all over the world can be converted from passive donors into consumers of conservation services their animals require. Perhaps these millions of people can even give voice to the animals’ needs and wants, and act as a new frontier of their conservation.

These prospects have motivated the Luc Hoffmann Institute to embark on further interrogation of the power of gamification for good in the conservation sector. We hope to test assumptions, gather wide ranging views, analyse unintended consequences and maybe even test a prototype of such a gamified environment. 
If this resonates, I encourage you to take action: investigate, experiment, see where gamification is already powerful in your own life. I believe in crowdsourcing new insights and approaches, and it is my hope that this thinking may spark further ideas and insights (or warnings). I would like to hear from you if it does. If you are interested in this conversation or wish to contribute, please get in touch with me at and connect on LinkedIn.


Announcing the winners of the Beyond Tourism in Africa Innovation Challenge

The Luc Hoffmann Institute, the African Leadership University’s School of Wildlife Conservation and WWF Regional Office for Africa are pleased to announce the winners of the Beyond Tourism in Africa innovation challenge. 

The challenge, which ran from 1 September to 15 October 2020, sought new ideas for innovative sources of income from nature that go beyond tourism. Winners receive a place in the African Leadership University’s incubator programme, which commences in February 2021. The 8-month, virtual programme is a crucial next stage that will take participants from idea phase to building viable, investment-ready businesses.

About the innovation challenge

We sought solutions that would 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. We believe that the winning ideas have potential to develop into successful projects or businesses that reduce some of the dependence on tourism revenue in funding conservation efforts. These ideas come at a critical time when the global shutdown caused by COVID-19 has highlighted the vulnerability of communities reliant solely on tourism.

More than 300 applications were submitted to the 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! The ideas submitted showed ingenuity, passion to address environmental and poverty issues, and drive for sustainable development. 

The applications went through a rigorous judging process involving a review by a diverse panel (see list of panel members at bottom) with a range of expertise, from community-based conservation and business development to entrepreneurship. The review panel was faced with a tough choice from among many inspiring applications. 

The Luc Hoffmann Institute, the African Leadership University and WWF Regional Office for Africa together extend our congratulations to the winners and a warm welcome to the African Leadership University’s incubator programme. We look forward to seeing how these ideas develop into viable projects that effect important positive change for communities across Africa.

Beyond Tourism in Africa – Winning Ideas

(listed alphabetically by idea name)

Community-led virtual classroom for nature-based field education
Idea: Building an online platform whereby individuals and groups in local communities can provide lessons live ‘from the field’ in ecology, culture, conservation and sustainable resource use, aimed at global audiences such as individuals, schools and universities. The project will enable cross-cultural interactions by including the histories, mythologies and spiritual worlds local people share with their environment, and elevating indigenous voices and perspectives.
Team Members: Marina Khoza, Karen Vickers
Team Countries: South Africa, Canada
Local Community: TBD

Dancing away to improve livelihoods and promote conservation
Idea: Community knowledge of the environment is preserved and propagated by music and dance. This idea commercialises conservation folklore while simultaneously amplifying local knowledge about wildlife by identifying, recording and performing cultural songs and other folklore for a profit channelled back into local community projects.
Team Members: Joanna Hill, Tutilo Mudumba
Team Countries: Uganda, UK
Local Community: Murchison Falls National Park

ForestPesa: A micro-payments marketplace for micro-forest owners
Idea: A pay-for-success mobile marketplace that would allow micro-forest owners to directly exchange their verified carbon with local and international carbon buyers, with the aim of supporting micro-forest owners in the protection, propagation and conservation of indigenous trees.
Team: Robert Ddamulira, Judith Chatiza
Team Countries: Uganda, Zimbabwe
Local Community: Mabira Forest Reserve 

Funding community conservation via sponsorship of identifiable plots
Idea: Donors support and fund habitat protection by sponsoring identifiable plots of land (locatable via an existing third-party app), creating additional revenue streams for communities that are setting aside land for wildlife.
Team Members: Mod Masedi, Ben Heermans, Dr J.W. Tico McNutt
Team Countries: Botswana, US
Local Community: Western Okavango Delta

Global payments encouraging local-conservation effort using blockchain
Idea: Enable global payments using blockchain technology to create an accessible market for conservation-effort credits that encourage community conservation and reduce poverty. The initiative proposes a three-pronged monitoring model (tree coverage, animal wildlife occupancy and biodiversity soundscape saturation) to meet global biodiversity objectives.
Team Members: Mark Gerrard, Simon Morgan, Gavin Erasmus
Team Country: South Africa
Local Community: TBD

Home of the Gorillas
Idea: Generating non-trekking revenues to fund gorilla conservation and support local communities by developing a subscription-based mobile app that enables users around the world to engage with gorillas through activities like virtual interaction, celebrating gorilla milestones and local community e-commerce.
Team Members: David Gonahasa, Fidelis Kanyamunyu
Team Country: Uganda
Local Community: Bwindi

Integrating technology and conservation rewards to support African youth
Idea: Develop a resilient, equitable economy near Kruger National Park through ‘conservation currency’ via a smartphone app. The app would utilise locally-tailored awards to engage community youth in conservation activities that also promote local businesses and goods, thereby creating subsistence and long-term employment opportunities.
Team Members: Matt Lindenberg
Team Country: South Africa
Local Community: Kruger National Park

Landscape wildlife business model for the Baviaanskloof Bewarea
Idea: To demonstrate the link between natural capital and financial capital through direct investment in game by establishing populations of indigenous herbivores for rewilding, breeding and off-take towards the game-meat industry, thereby incentivising improved natural habitat management.
Team Members: Justine Rudman, Luyanda Luthuli, Justin Gird
Team Country: South Africa
Local Community: Baviaanskloof Bewarea

MN Foods – Conservation Condiments
Idea: Training and equipping women farmers in conservation areas to grow and develop chilli condiments in buffer zones of national parks, creating alternative revenue channels from which a percentage of profits are returned to the community in the form of input loans and additional farmer support.
Team Members: Marjorie Nanteza, Esther Nantambi
Team Country: Uganda
Local Communities: Bwindi; Kibale National Park

Processing and selling 100% natural Obudu honey
Idea: Obudu Mountain Farms’ Obudu Honey is a social enterprise that would work collaboratively with local beekeepers to produce natural honey through eco-friendly practices, with a focus on creating sustainable livelihoods for women and youth farmers. A percentage of the generated revenue would be committed to protecting local wildlife.
Team Members: Nela Duke Ekpenyong, Kevin Eyos
Team Country: Nigeria
Local Community: Obudu Plateau

Production and marketing of endemic Malagasy plants consumed by lemurs
Idea: This idea is to generate a sustainable source of income for local communities through endemic plants of southwest Madagascar. Germination of a number of these plants is accelerated when their seeds have passed through the digestive tract of a lemur. This project will set up a collection and marketing plan for these seeds, thereby contributing to the restoration of several degraded habitats and helping protect plant species.
Team Members: NY AINA RASOLOFOHERISOA Tiana Ravoniriana Tahina, ANDRIANJATOVO Onjaniaina Olivia Fabrice 
Team Country: Madagascar
Local Community: Itampolo

Rewilding African rangelands to improve socio-economic resilience
Idea: This idea will galvanise the long-term viability of sustainable wildlife economies by quantifying soil carbon credits and connecting communities to global carbon markets and impact investors, facilitating access to global carbon markets to incentivise and offset the costs of the rewilding of rangelands.
Team Members: Matthew Child, Tyron Fouche, Alexander Child
Team Country: South Africa
Local Community: South Africa

Role of Bees in Income Generation and Environmental Sustainability
Idea: Create income generation and encourage community engagement in environmental protection by training local beekeepers in sustainable practices, investment in sustainable hives and equipment, and a programme of marketing literacy. The project would promote environmental sustainability and social inclusion, with a focus on empowering young people and women.
Team Members: Mariama Satu Kargbo, Aminata Serry
Team Country: Sierra Leone
Local Community: Outamba Kilimi National Park

Idea: This innovation would use a mobile and internet-powered platform to connect local decor artisans and fashion designers to the international market, with an integrated digital cultural hub that would empower these communities to tell their own stories about their cultures and relationships with nature and wildlife. 
Team Members: Gloria Kisilu
Team Country: Kenya
Local Community: Maasai and Samburu

The Cultural Marketplace
Idea: The Cultural Marketplace will be an e-commerce platform of artisan products, virtual tourism and educational experiences that will bridge the gap between global buyers and local artisans and communities. Products will be marketed to highlight the vendor’s links to sustainability and conservation and profits will go to the Impact Fund to directly support conservation initiatives.
Team Members: Gosaitse Lekoko, Debora Duarte, Ruth Stewart
Team Countries: Botswana, Angola, UK
Local Community: KAZA region

Review Panel

African Leadership University: Elizabeth Babalola, Elizabeth Gitari-Mitaru, Julia Pierre-Nina, Sue Snyman 
WWF: Melissa De Kock, Richard Diggle, Peter Scheren
Luc Hoffmann Institute: Adrian Dellecker, Elisabeth Losasso


For further information regarding the African Leadership University’s incubator programme, please contact

For media queries, get in touch with Megan Eaves, Communication Manager at

Connect with us on social! #BeyondTourismAfrica


The Luc Hoffmann Institute brings together diverse thinkers to kickstart a nature economy

How can we kickstart a nature economy which creates tangible, mutually transactional value to protect nature at scale? A nature economy which preserves and restores biodiversity in the long term while securing solutions for the short term.

On 27 October 2020, the Luc Hoffmann Institute and the MAVA Foundation convened a group of 33 individuals, ranging from economists, insurance professionals and impact investors to artists, writers and conservationists, to embrace new ways of thinking on this issue during a three-hour spirited and progressive discussion.

Participants covered important groundwork on thinking big for the long term, philosophically and economically, then began scaling back to look at how this might translate into shorter-term practical approaches. “We need to build practical pathways towards meaningful revenue streams. Such return on investment will create strong incentives for the private sector and those with entrepreneurial spirit to engage”, explained Holger Schmid, Director of the Sustainable Economy Programme at the MAVA Foundation.

What will a nature economy look like in 2050?

Three different creative scenarios were presented by writer and visual artist Camille de Toledo, WCMC Beijing representative Han Meng, and Internet of Elephants founder Gautam Shah. Each imagined a world in 2050 in which the numerous ways that society values nature have been realised to achieve its protection. Either by giving non-humans legal rights through mass attitudinal change, or by considering the non-negotiables for a practical way forward, nature has been preserved and is thriving alongside people. This futures-thinking method was used to encourage different ways of thinking and spark themes that were explored throughout the meeting.

Emerging themes 

Several thematic areas were identified by participants during the event, including: 

  1. Increasing risk-taking and rewards for bolder conservation approaches: How can we reimagine funding mechanisms for nature conservation to better support entrepreneurs in the non-profit impact sector? Are there mechanisms that can mimic the private sector, such as share-purchasing or profit-sharing? Can philanthropic organisations play a bigger role in lowering the risk of early stage ideas?
  2. Providing legal and political status to “non-human” living beings: a pathway to building a better equilibrium between humans and the elements of nature, in order to transfer more rights to those ecosystems which were deprived of rights for centuries.
  3. The re/insurance sector may offer an opportunity to assess concrete values of nature and biodiversity conservation – and, inversely, the risk of biodiversity loss – to pass on this cost and benefit to their customers through, for example, certified payment for ecosystem service (PES) schemes. This would have the potential to create new revenues for conservation organisations.

Where next? 

Doughnut Economics creator and economist Kate Raworth sparked a new direction in the conversation, asking: “Should we bring nature into the economic infrastructure which already exists or make economies more compatible with the living world? These are fundamentally different world views and have profoundly different consequences. Which paradigm do we believe will save humanity and nature in the long term? We need to fit nature into the economy in the short term, but in the long term it’s of paramount importance that we fit the economy into nature.”

Paradigms and values do not need to be shared by all in order to find a shared way forward. By sharing ideas from diverse perspectives, using imagination and adding critical systems thinking, the stepping stones needed to pave the way ahead emerged. 

It’s vital that a strong civil society stands to hold governments to account when needed. There are examples in Africa where governments are already making these changes – when given a strong business case and the tools to bring together donors, advisers and investments, the right decisions are made.

As Dr. Theodor Cojoianu, Assistant Professor in Finance, Queen’s University Belfast & Member of the Platform on Sustainable Finance, EU Commission, highlighted: “Educating ourselves on conflicts of interest including on financial flows is crucial – we need to know where the money is coming from and where it is going. Great work has been done in unveiling such conflicts of interest in the area of fossil fuels and climate change. We definitely need something similar for biodiversity and other environmental aspects.”

The MAVA Foundation and the Luc Hoffmann Institute look forward to continuing this conversation towards developing a nature economy. If you would like to contribute ideas, case studies or learnings, please contact Adrian Dellecker at


Luc Hoffmann Institute-led Biodiversity Revisited wins award for innovative, collaborative facilitation

Investing in new solutions for life on Earth means investing in creative facilitation. This is a lesson from the Luc Hoffmann Institute – and many groundbreaking ideas have been incubated as a result. Now, the institute’s efforts, along with those of long-standing collaborators, have been internationally recognised.

On Monday 26 October 2020, the Luc Hoffmann Institute proudly co-accepted a Gold Facilitation Impact award from the International Association of Facilitators (IAF). The award is for its collaborative facilitation efforts, together with external facilitators Gillian Martin Mehers and Randall Krantz, on the Luc Hoffmann Institute-led Biodiversity Revisited initiative.

In the warm up to the virtual ceremony, the IAF released a short film featuring our Head of Programme (ad-interim) and experienced facilitator, Melanie Ryan. In this film, Melanie – who led the Biodiversity Revisited initiative – explains why facilitation is so important in our mission to provide a fresh perspective on critical conservation challenges and develop new approaches and solutions that will deliver biodiversity gains in policy and practice.

Over a period of 24 months, the Biodiversity Revisited team convened a diverse range of stakeholders to develop a new Biodiversity Revisited research agenda, helping spark new ways of working for and thinking about life on Earth.

Stepping away from PowerPoint presentations and traditional facilitation formulas, Biodiversity Revisited used creative, participatory methods such as art and fiction to engage diverse people from around the world, virtually and in person. These facilitation methods fostered trust and encouraged courageous conversations to enable new voices to be heard and chart innovative ways forward.

The Luc Hoffmann Institute’s director Jon Hutton, who has recently been appointed as WWF International’s Global Conservation Director, says: “Great ideas don’t just happen. To encourage diversity of thought, bring in new ideas, and incubate inclusive agendas where everyone in society has a part to play, you need a special kind of great facilitation. The Luc Hoffmann Institute is bringing that together with a suite of skills into the WWF Global Conservation Division to catalyse innovation and transformative change within WWF for nature and all people.”

To learn more about the Biodiversity Revisited initiative, please contact Melanie Ryan at: