Dear friends and supporters of the Southern African Wildlife College,
There are so many words that could describe the 2021 year under review, many of them an antithesis of one another. In parallel, many of us experienced both highs and lows as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to impact lives and livelihoods across the globe.
When I look at the history of the College as highlighted in this edition, I am so humbled and honoured to have been a part of some of these achievements, a number of them in the face of adversity.
Despite the challenges faced, it is with incredible pride and fortitude that in 2021 we were able to complete another academic year; celebrate our 25-year jubilee which also marked the official launch of our Sustainability Fund; and continue to impact conservation and conservationists across the region and beyond. I extend my deepest thanks to everyone who has over the years made the College’s work possible. This includes our stakeholders, our partners, and all our funders as well as our team of passionate and dedicated staff, some of whom have been with the College since its inception.
As we continue to work towards ensuring our sustainability and on the delivery of our needs-based training and skills development programmes, we realise that delivering a nature-positive future, on which we all depend, will not be possible without fully embracing a holistic inclusive approach to conservation.
As such, the year 2021 followed on, on the extremely important work being done on our curriculum development, which includes this focus on people, planet, prosperity. Just as we have had to adapt to online learning and delivery, we continuously have to update our learning materials and applied approach to focus on the key environmental and conservation challenges being faced. Studies and subject matter needs to not only include but tackle and unpack challenges such as habitat degradation and loss, exploitation, food security, pollution, land and water use, climate change and disease, all of which requires transformative thinking. This especially when it comes to transforming the economy so that natural resources are properly valued.
The Living Planet Index, which is published biennially in WWF’s science-based Living Planet Report, highlights the fact that half of the global economy and billions of people are directly reliant on nature. Preventing further biodiversity loss and restoring vital ecosystems has to be a top priority and this cannot be achieved “without recognising and respecting the rights, governance, and conservation leadership of indigenous peoples and local communities around the world.”
Whilst we celebrate our work by sharing our Annual Review with you; we know that the College has a clear mission. As one of the region’s leading applied learning conservation education, training and skills development institutions, we need to continue to elevate our thinking and delivery in order to provide high-impact, context driven, holistic learning in support of these global priorities.
We thank you for being an integral part of this important journey and hope that you will continue to be inspired, as we are, after reading this our latest Annual Review.
With best wishes,
Chief Executive Officer
Southern African Wildlife College