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 mobilises 70 key actors to engage with the idea of a Collaborative Platform to address tourism systems in Africa impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic
A new Collaborative Platform that amplifies existing fundraising efforts and supports the activities of community stakeholders who are the custodians of the landscapes and wildlife, and upon whom successful tourism activities depend. The Collaborative Platform encourages enterprise and is broad enough to encompass all those actors in the wildlife tourism sector who need support to survive the Covid-19 disruption, whether they are community-based, government or private sector.
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.
With more and more companies striving for impact, and non-profit organisations seeking more sustainable revenue models, the lines between the business and non-profit sector are blurring. What new sustainable business models will emerge for non-profits and impact-driven enterprises to deliver lasting and effective impact?
Drawing from new ideas and new networks that grew out of a November 2018 convening, the Luc Hoffmann Institute has begun incubating a number of initiatives that make use of innovative business models to deliver environmental gains. The institute is always scouting for bright minds and ideas, and helps connect new approaches together. With its incubation model, the institute works with innovators in both non-profits and impact-driven enterprises to transform good ideas into concrete solutions for nature and people.
The Luc Hoffmann Institute engages with and challenges 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.
What could revolutionize the way biodiversity data is collected, synthesized, understood and acted on, the way that ‘2 degrees Celsius’ galvanised action on Climate Change?
In partnership with the UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC), the Luc Hoffmann Institute is incubating the idea of transforming how biodiversity is integrated into decision-making globally through a multidimensional biodiversity index (MBI). Learning from the successes and failures of economic and poverty indices, the institute is bringing diverse voices together to lay the foundations for the concept and raise awareness of its potential.
Luc Hoffmann Institute, UNEP-WCMC, and WWF convene diverse actors around the search for an MBI. Feedback following the convening indicates that the “single index” approach is feasible.
“Some things are very difficult to count, but if we create an infrastructure for measuring biodiversity, then it begins to count for society and people start to see the impact.”
Pali Lehohla, former Statistician General of South Africa and Founder of the Pan-African Institute for Evidence at the convening on ‘Exploring a multidimensional biodiversity index’.
“This is going to be important in designing policy interventions that can affect the trend [in species depletion] and hopefully turn it back.”
Adriana Conconi, Executive Director, Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative at the convening on ‘Exploring a multidimensional biodiversity index’.
The United Nations Environment Programme Statistical Division helps integrating the index in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) reporting and considers becoming the index’s official custodian agency.
Several governments volunteer to conduct pilot projects in their countries (Switzerland, South Africa, Vietnam, Mexico, Costa Rica); Several countries and foundations also indicate an interest in funding the development of an index.
The Swiss Federal Department of Environment supports the development of the index for a three year project, and volunteers to have the concept tried in Switzerland.
Discussions begin with local actors, in Switzerland, Costa Rica, Viet Nam and Mexico on how to deliver pilot projects in countries to test the MBI.
Aspiration – biodiversity health – and business and societal responses to it – can be measured and easily communicated, resources are better allocated to regenerate biodiversity while ensuring human well-being.
If the decline in biodiversity is a problem, why have efforts to conserve it been ineffective? Is there a more inherent problem in how ‘biodiversity’ is conceptualised and managed that undermines actions? Biodiversity Revisited is the first comprehensive review of the concepts, narratives, governance, science, systems and futures underpinning biodiversity science since the emergence of the term in the 1980s. The initiative aspires to spark, in future generations of researchers – a new and more interdisciplinary set of pathways for research toward regenerating just and diverse life on Earth.
“Biodiversity Revisited is an exciting project. It offers an urgently needed opportunity to reframe the research agenda and the debate. In a time of growing global commitment to action for nature, it could not be more timely,”
says Jim Leape, William and Eva Price Senior Fellow at Stanford Woods, Institute for the Environment; Co-director, Center for Ocean Solutions.
The Biodiversity Revisited Symposium takes place in Vienna, bringing together interdisciplinary thinkers including journalists and scientists from the natural and social sciences. This picture shows the early career essay competition winners who joined the symposium.
Biodiversity Revisited Symposium participants share their thoughts on the future of biodiversity conservation in short video interviews.
A core group of 18 members of the Biodiversity Revisited initiative meets at the Rockefeller Bellagio Center to begin drafting an innovative, five-year research agenda in an environment that facilitates deep, creative thinking.
23-24 February 2020
At the World Biodiversity Forum, 20 members of the Biodiversity Revisited initiative, including many early career essay contest winners, meet at the Rockefeller Bellagio Center to advance the development of the research agenda.
11 June 2020
A panel of three emerging, cross-sectoral leaders come together virtually with Melanie Ryan, Head of Programme, to discuss the development of the Biodiversity Revisited initiative as part of the WWF Fuller Science for Nature series.
1 July 2020
The Biodiversity Revisited research and action agenda is published, rethinking the approach to biodiversity research for the coming years, with justice and diverse voices at the centre of our efforts.
In 2020 and beyond, fresh ideas, narratives and engaged networks transform into action through research, policy and practice for nature and people. Networks of engaged partners and participants start to embed the Biodiversity Revisited story, ideas and new framings into their activities of teaching, sharing knowledge and designing global networks and projects for research.
Timeline ends here
Research Agenda On 1 July 2020, the Biodiversity Revisited research and action agenda was published. A culmination of the two-year Biodiversity Revisited collaboration, the agenda charts a course for more effective biodiversity research and action for the next five years and beyond, putting justice at the centre of our efforts.
Fuller Seminar In June 2020, a panel of three emerging, cross-sectoral leaders came together virtually with Melanie Ryan, Head of Programme, to discuss the development of the Biodiversity Revisited initiative as part of the WWF Fuller Science for Nature series.
Seeds of Change A February 2020 compilation of provocative essays that formed the basis of the discussions at the Biodiversity Revisited Symposium in September 2019, Seeds of Change explores new concepts, narratives, science, governance and systems for a diverse and just future for life on Earth.
How can the world shift from a negative discourse of looming ecological disaster to a more positive, solutions-oriented discourse? The Better Nature initiative (formerly called ‘Conservation Futures’) offers a support platform to accelerate innovative ideas in the field of law, finance and technology to change the rules of the game in favour of environmental regeneration.
In 2017, the Luc Hoffmann Institute and the United Nations Environment Programme co-created this initiative to explore fresh perspectives and new approaches to nature conservation, aiming to work with key actors to mobilise the most promising innovations.
The Luc Hoffmann Institute and UNEP convene global actors from the communication, finance and technology sectors.
The Luc Hoffmann Institute refines the initiative in a global review process with 100 experts.
Erik Solheim, the executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme, endorses and sponsors the setup of the initiative, opening and presiding over its founding meeting in Nairobi.
“Better Nature aims to secure a central place for nature and natural resources in new and emerging conceptions of human development. It is designed to contribute to the global efforts underway to accelerate the delivery of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. As such, Better Nature is closely working with UNDP to explore adequate mechanisms for future collaboration.”
– Achim Steiner, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme.
The initiative receives support from the Italian government and with this launch funding the Luc Hoffmann Institute is able to give the initiative formerly known as Conservation Future its own wings as an independent ‘Better Nature’ initiative with its own website and led by champions Mark Halle, Randall Krantz and Ben Metz.
The independent initiative receives a EUR 400,000 grant from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to take the initiative forward and establish a core team of three innovators. UNDP acknowledges the role of the initiative in contributing to the delivery of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Conservation Futures, purpose and design A February 2018 thought leadership publication by the Luc Hoffmann Institute, the United Nations Environment Programme, and the Oxford Martin School on the Better Nature initiative.
In 2020, governments will agree on a new global biodiversity framework for the next 10 years. How can key stakeholder organisations find a common approach and standard for deciding on biodiversity priorities, share guidance on mapping biodiversity priorities, and agree on a global map of biodiversity priorities as a basis for development planning?
Seeking consensus on biodiversity priorities is a United Nations Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) initiative supported by the Luc Hoffmann Institute in its ideation, incubation and acceleration, with important inputs from over 10 further partners, including the National Geographic Society, the NatureMap consortium, and the biodiversity hub of the Science-Based Targets Network.
The Luc Hoffmann Institute convenes, together with UNEP-WCMC and financial support from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, a diverse range of scientific, practitioner and policy experts and institutions to discuss how to establish the scientific basis for scaling up area-based conservation in a post-2020 strategy. The convening brings key players with different views and values together for the first time, and fosters considerable understanding, good will and the intention to take the idea forward.
The Luc Hoffmann Institute co-creates the design of and supports a convening hosted by UNEP-WCMC entitled ‘Gaining Consensus on Spatial and Temporal Metrics for Informed Decision-making’. The Luc Hoffmann Institute and UNEP-WCMC make the workshop synthesis report available to support negotiators in the development of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.
Out of ideas and approaches developed in the 2017 and 2019 convenings, including global biodiversity maps to support advocacy ad implementation, the Nature Map Consortium creates Nature Map Earth to help governments operationalize targets for biodiversity conservation and restoration.
To contribute to relevant global decisions and policy-making, the 2017 and 2019 convening workshop findings are summarised in two separate reports, available on the UNEP-WCMC post-2020 page. The findings notably supported the November 2019 meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice, a cradle for the development of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.
How can we make the global trade of goods with high biodiversity impact more sustainable?
The trade in wild and farmed species has great potential for creating long-term jobs and boosting economic growth, particularly in developing countries. However, overhunting, overfishing and overfarming can lead to population crashes, habitat destruction, and impaired livelihoods for local people.
The TRADE Hub brings together over 50 organisations (industry, trade agencies, academia, governments and civil society) from 15 different countries, all studying various stages of the supply chain and able to reveal damaging links and constructive pathways for sustainable change.
The Luc Hoffmann Institute played a vital role in the co-design and development of the global theory of change that guided the first five years of the initiative’s work programme. The TRADE Hub investigates the trends and impacts of trade in wildlife, wild meat and agricultural goods, tracing their trade globally including Brazil, Cameroon, China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Indonesia, Republic of Congo, and Tanzania. Mapping a plant or animal’s journey, all the way from its origin, through trading companies and to the consumer, reveals the full impact of trade on people and the natural world.
The results of the trade mapping will feed into recommendations on how to sustainably produce, trade and consume wild products and goods, as well as help companies to understand their full environmental impact. In addition, a modelling tool will be produced that predicts how shifts in trade routes affect both people and nature. Countries, companies and decision makers can use the model and help to make trade a positive force for sustainable development. The Trade Hub is financed by the UK Research and Innovation’s Global Challenges Research Fund (UKRI GCRF) and led by the UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
Based on a successful collaboration with the Luc Hoffmann Institute in the Development Corridors Partnership, the United Nations Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) invites the institute to lead a theory of change and impact design initiative for TRADE Hub.
First workshops occur to co-design the theory of change for TRADE Hub, gathering inputs from partners from each of the 15 TRADE Hub countries face-to-face, via surveys, and via videoconference. This is part of the core design for proposal submission to the UK Research and Innovation, Global Challenges Research Fund (UKRI-GCRF) in May 2018. The proposal is to map the journey of a range of global commodities, their interdependencies with the wellbeing of communities and how patterns of trade influence positive or negative outcomes around the world.
The Luc Hoffmann Institute defends the project proposal with other TRADE Hub leads in front of a global panel of over 15 interdisciplinary experts and the funder (GCRF). In a blog thought piece, Melanie Ryan, Head of Programme (ad-interim) at the Luc Hoffmann Institute, describes the day.
The UKRI-GCRF decides to fund the UKRI-GCRF TRADE Hub, led by the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), GBP 20 million. A new global research hub of 50 partners in 15 countries is created to map goods with high biodiversity impacts in view of making trade sustainable. The institute helped the TRADE Hub to improve its plans, goals and strategies and played a major role in leveraging the GBP 20 million grant.
18-21 February 2019
Inception workshop Cambridge
The Luc Hoffmann Institute further contributes to the project theory of change through several workshops (on stakeholder mapping, impacts, log frame development and risk registering). This inception workshop is led by the Luc Hoffmann Institute and the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT).
The Thailand Department of Development and Sustainability holds a workshop at the AIT in Thailand to harmonise the theory of change, impact, log frame and risk register for TRADE Hub.
Ultimately, the TRADE hub aspires to deliver impacts that change the way trade in wild species and agricultural commodities is undertaken in order to benefit both nature and people.
How can we better ensure that neither biodiversity conservation nor livelihoods are negatively impacted by conflicts over iconic wildlife? As human populations expand and natural habitats shrink, people and wildlife increasingly clash over food and habitat. These interactions drive conflicts between different interest groups with strongly held positions, creating some of the most intractable conservation challenges. Working to address deep-seated human-wildlife conflicts requires innovative ideas and approaches.
To safeguard species and community livelihoods, the institute is working with Griffith University, the University of Aberdeen and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Species Survival Commission (IUCN-SSC) Human-Wildlife Conflict Task Force to create an overarching standard for addressing conflicts over biodiversity.
This initiative functions as the nucleus around which a consensus for the value of a standard can form between academics, conservation practitioners, and communities. The strong relationships that have been forged with key actors and the Namibia pilot will have paved the way for accelerated progress towards funding for the creation and uptake of a global standard.
How can different sectors have better-informed, cross-sectoral conversations to help deal with the rapid development of technologies that intersect with nature and people? Synthetic biology is one such rapidly-developing technology, where fear of the unknown can cause paralysis. This intersection of technology and emotions requires thoughtful and informed conversations that generate new understanding to avoid overlooking powerful new options.
In 2016, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) approached the Luc Hoffmann Institute to seek expertise in convening and co-production. The IUCN wanted to apply this expertise to its task force and technical subgroup on synthetic biology and biodiversity conservation that was mandated by the 2016 World Conservation Congress in Hawaii . The task force were specifically examining the intersection of emerging synthetic biology technologies and their impact on biodiversity conservation in order to inform the 2020 global policy development process.
Synthetic biology is a complex and controversial field, with potentially large implications for biodiversity conservation, both positive and negative. This initiative was designed to increase understanding within the IUCN’s more than 1,300 member organisations of the potential range of impacts when synthetic biology interfaces with biodiversity and its conservation. It maps the different values, knowledge and positions related to synthetic biology to enable the conservation sector to play an informed role in the debate.
The institute invests CHF 120,000 in seed funding and provides expertise for the design of the taskforce, framework design and creation, and to boost the diversity of participation by harnessing expertise from around the world. This stage included workshops in Cambridge for technical and steering work, an open public ‘listening’ forum as well as follow-up work held in Brazil.
The institute designs and contributes to three IUCN writing workshops, including the Taskforce Inception Workshop pictured here, which generates new network connections and bridges different communities of practice.
By integrating conservation stakeholders with those from the private sector and indigenous groups, the Luc Hoffmann Institute facilitates a new and more inclusive way of bringing together multiple kinds of evidence for difficult conservation issues. The Institute’s incubation and acceleration made it possible for IUCN to obtain funding of 200,000 CHF from the Swiss Government and to finalise the global assessment ‘Genetic Frontiers for Conservation’. This global assessment forms the basis of a resolution for consideration and adoption by the IUCN member states and organisations at the 2020 World Conservation Congress in Montpellier.
The global assessment comes under criticism from special interest groups. The IUCN releases a statement in which it is able to defend the global assessment thanks to the credibility, legitimacy and relevance of the collaborative design and the process used in forming it. The IUCN acknowledges the Luc Hoffmann Institute’s contribution to this successful design and process.
In the above-mentioned publication on ‘Genetic frontiers for conservation: An assessment of synthetic biology and biodiversity conservation’, the IUCN says “Many thanks… to the Luc Hoffmann Institute for accelerating this work”. As a result of our work IUCN is able to reframe the problem, develop a co-produced analysis, defend the scientific credibility of this analysis against detractors and successfully develop policy recommendations for the World Conservation Congress in 2020.
The global conservation community stays abreast of cutting edge societal and scientific advances in synthetic biology in order to develop a position that optimises potential gains while minimising negative outcomes for nature and society.
How can we take shareholder activism to a new level as a force for global sustainability?
Millions of people are shareholders, and therefore owners, of corporations around the world. Shareholder activism, where shareholders influence a company’s behaviour by exercising their rights as owners, holds great potential for conservation. However, much activism has focussed on issues of governance and short-term economic gains, with significant implications for environmental sustainability.
This Luc Hoffmann Institute, in collaboration with SustainAbility and the University of Zurich, aims to innovate thinking and practice on the issue of activist shareholding and the environment. It seeks to support new networks for collaboration and research, increase information sharing on existing and emerging ideas and promote best practices on shareholder activism for sustainability for a global impact.
A convening on “Activist shareholder impacts on corporate sustainability” is held in Gland, to improve overall understanding of the issue, identify pathways for influence, and find a shared agenda for action, with participants from multiple horizons (MAVA foundation, IUCN, WWF, The University of Zurich, etc.).
Renewed vigour in the movement to engage shareholders to vote for sustainability at corporate shareholder meetings, and the emergence of a champion – an individual or an organisation – to continue to drive activist shareholder policy and practice toward sustaining biodiversity.
Timeline ends here
Unleashing people power A January 2019 thought piece by Elisabeth Losasso, consultant with the Luc Hoffmann Institute.