Empowering the next generation of conservation leaders

Tackling modern environmental challenges requires new kinds of knowledge, skills and collaboration but until now, nature conservation has been led by the ‘traditional’ biological sciences.

Our Fellows Programme has provided a diverse group of postdoctoral researchers with training and support, access to new networks and opportunities to engage with their peers. They have gained a range of ‘non-traditional’ skills and knowledge proven to improve the success of science-policy collaborations.

This includes negotiation and communication skills, trust building, project management, and navigating the science-policy interface to ensure that research has an impact.

By leading and participating in research that is connected directly to people working on policy and practice, our fellows have experienced the evolving challenges of nature conservation. They have produced a range of new and useful research outputs, designed and shaped in collaboration with others.

They have engaged with a range of audiences beyond core project partners, including WWF offices around the world, UN conferences, policy forums, technical and academic workshops and public outreach events.

Over the last few years, fellows have helped shape climate policy in Colombia, uncovered links between supply chains and biodiversity decline in the Cerrado in Brazil, developed tools to help cities lower their carbon footprint, and worked on the design of national parks in China. These are just a few examples of their contribution to global conservation efforts.

Fourteen fellows from 11 countries have participated in our programme. The six already on the next steps of their career pathway have all gone on to work in conservation or environment-related fields in the United States, Australia, Vietnam and the United Kingdom. We look forward to following them in their careers and are proud to have helped them on their way.

As the Luc Hoffmann Institute transitions to a new strategy and work programme, our experience with these fellowships will help guide a second generation of capacity development work.

Main image: Photo © Naturepl.com / Jabruson / WWF

My fellowship is an opportunity to be involved in real-world conservation, to link research to policy and practice. This is complex and navigating complexity is something you don’t learn as a student. Being associated with Dr Luc Hoffmann is a great privilege. My aspiration is to be able to contribute, even if in a small way, to addressing the great challenges the world faces.

Angela Guerrero Gonzalez

Paz Duran and Melanie Ryan discussing with David Attenborough about the value and challenges of collaboration for real-world conservation issues. David Attenborough Building of the Cambridge Conservation Initiative. Credits: Sir Cam @camdiary / CCI

Luc Hoffmann InstituteFellows