The future of conservation NGOs

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

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

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


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

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14 September 2021

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

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

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15-16 September 2021

Two virtual sessions on: “What is the future of conservation NGOs?” are held, bringing together 41 conservation practitioners, academics, researchers, strategists, activists, fund managers, science communicators, and supporters. The group shares insights, thoughtful deliberations, and the intention to work together to reimagine the conservation sector.

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March 2022

The Luc Hoffmann Institute publishes “Exploring Possible Futures for Conservation NGOs‘’. The report examines the trends impacting and shaping conservation work and the barriers to and enablers of change in the conservation sector. It presents 15 possible futures and related roles for conservation NGOs intended as a starting point for radical thinking and discussions.

Exploring Possible Futures for Conservation NGOs

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21 April 2022

Applications open for a global challenge to drive innovation and support solutions that proactively address the deep-rooted issues facing conservation non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and help build a just, inclusive and regenerative future.

Applications open for ‘The future of conservation NGOs’ innovation challenge.

April 2022

How might we reimagine conservation work to effectively respond to and help shape a rapidly changing world? What are the trends impacting conservation work? What are the barriers to and enablers of change in conservation NGOs?

Together with the authors of the analysis report “Exploring possible futures of conservation NGOs”, the institute hosts a panel discussion that delves into the findings of the report, examines these questions, and presents 15 potential roles for conservation NGOs, each one based on a possible future state of the world.

Exploring possible futures for conservation NGOs

May 2022

The future of conservation NGOs – Innovation Challenge – Seeking innovative ideas for transformative change. A webinar is hosted by the Luc Hoffmann Institute along with IUCN-CEESP and Impact Hub, featuring an informational session about the innovation challenge and live Q&A, as well as short inspirational talks by Martin Kalungu-Banda (Presencing Institute), Ameyali Ramos (Deputy Chair, IUCN-CEESP), Bruno Lacey (Global Associate, Impact Hub) and Anca Damerell (Head of Programme, Luc Hoffmann Institute)

Watch the full webinar here

May 2022

What is the future for conservation NGOs? Is there a future? If so, what kinds of roles, mandates, organisational culture and capabilities do conservation NGOs of the future need to embrace? Our Head of Programme, Anca Damerell, features on the NGO Soul + Strategy podcast episode #38 with Tosca Bruno-van Vijfeijken discussing what the #FutureofConservation looks like.

Listen here

21 April-22 May 2022

173 applications were submitted to the innovation challenge by individuals and teams from 58 different countries. This infographic shows the geographic spread of ideas.

The Geographic Distribution of Ideas for Innovation Challenge submissions

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June 2022

A total of 9 winners of the Innovation Challenge are announced after a rigorous evaluation process involving a review by a diverse panel with a range of expertise. The winning ideas represent a wide array of conservation efforts – international, local, rural, and urban – from the coastal communities in Maldives to the urban population in Greece.

The Future of Conservation NGOs Innovation Challenge – Winning Ideas


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

Timeline ends here

Related resources

Exploring possible futures for conservation NGOs
A March 2022 analysis report by LucHoffmann Institute authored by Barney Tallack, Tosca Bruno-van Vijfeijken, Martin Kalungu-Banda, and Marcelo Furtado

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

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

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

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