Developing African Conservation Leaders

ESA is an implementing partner with the Southern African Wildlife College and Common Purpose South Africa, on an African Conservation Leaders development initiative funded by the MAVA Foundation, via Peace Parks Foundation, to develop Africa’s future conservation leaders.

Conservation leaders

Future leaders in environment and conservation are key to leading policy and implementation of natural resource management in Africa. Young people within such organisations’ are often not involved in developing management strategies or management decisions, due primarily to the top down nature of running most of the formal conservation agencies and NGOs. What is needed is a mechanism to identify and develop young conservation professionals and have them mentored by existing conservation professionals, whilst simultaneously facilitating a change management process within conservation organizations’ that adapts decision-making from vertical to a more horizontal process. This allows for inputs from these young professionals – contributing innovative solutions to current and future conservation challenges.

Community leaders

New approaches to conservation and land management need to include rural communities, who in many cases are the landowners. It is known that current traditional African leadership structures tend to be dominated by older people. The youth are not included in decision-making for the good of the community or collective. This can create a sense of marginalisation and develop a resistance to the leadership, which can be displayed by growing disruptive behaviour by the youth. An intergenerational leadership framework encourages intergenerational understanding, collaboration and cooperation to address challenges and make joint decisions. Such a model breaks down barriers between generations, facilitates mentoring of future leaders by the senior leadership, whilst building on a consultative decision-making approach.

Why establish a Leadership hub?

African conservation needs leaders who can navigate the increasing complexities the world faces, from competing development agendas, to climate change. 

The hub promotes this leadership model to African clients and international funding organisations’, to secure funding for the initiative. We then manage and coordinate the implementation of programmes with the hub providing the central coordination capacity to ensure the ongoing interests of the partners.

Our goal is to build leaders in the conservation sector of Africa who:

  • are able to be ‘present’, connected emotionally, and have the courage to lead beyond authority;
  • are engaged at all levels in decision-making to collectively solve issues and be able to lead complex change;
  • address issues using innovative, ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking, drawing on intergenerational inputs, to address conservation challenges in collaboration with communities; and
  • are able to work across the boundaries of discipline and sector, with diverse stakeholders, elevating conservation as a key economic driver.
Environmental Sustainability Agency, the ESA, Developing African Conservation Leaders, Developing agri-wildlife hubs, Inclusive rural economic development, Localising supply chain, conservation leaders, clive poultney,
Environmental Sustainability Agency, the ESA, Developing African Conservation Leaders, Developing agri-wildlife hubs, Inclusive rural economic development, Localising supply chain, conservation leaders, clive poultney,