The Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC) has been awarded the largest grant in its history, with an incredible investment of €2.5m from the MAVA Fondation pour la Nature towards the College’s Sustainability Fund.
With the ever-increasing environmental challenges facing the African continent and its wildlife, it has become progressively important for conservation organisations to equip the custodians of our natural resources with the skills needed to tackle the testing times ahead.
To meet this need, the SAWC, a Southern African Development Community (SADC) recognised centre of specialisation in conservation education, training and skills development, is playing a pivotal role in the development of a new generation of managers and conservationists. Through its specialised applied learning programmes, the College enables key role players to deal with the issues facing conservationists today. In doing so it equips them with the qualifications, practical experience, and thought leadership to manage complex ecosystems, conserve wildlife, and empower local communities.
Since its inception, the College has trained over 17 000 people across various accredited programmes, learnerships and short courses. This remarkable achievement was reached without any government subsidy. As the demand for training increases in line with the requirements of an ever-changing conservation sector, so too does the need for sustainable funding streams become progressively critical. Accordingly, and driven by the College’s search for alternative income streams to support their core operations, the SAWC Board supported the decision to strengthen the financial position of the College through the creation of the its own Sustainability Fund.
The historic donation now received from MAVA has been matched by funds raised by the Southern African Wildlife College Trust as well as funding secured from founder donors Peace Parks Foundation and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The short-term goal is to collectively grow the Sustainability Fund to €6.6m (ZAR100m) over the next five years.
André Hoffmann, President of MAVA, stated “Nature conservation needs impactful leaders. The SAWC’s dedication to provide top of the line leadership training is inspiring. We are thrilled to support this latest development. We hope our seed funding to the SAWC’s endowment will inspire other donors and the SAWC’s supporters to engage in their sustainability journey”
In addition, MAVA has awarded a further €517 400 to the College to support the testing phase of an African Intergenerational Leadership Hub (AIGLH). Future leaders in environment and conservation are key to leading policy and implementation of natural resource management in Africa. The AIGLH sets out to identify and develop young conservation professionals, allowing them the platform to give input and contribute to innovative solutions to current and future conservation challenges.
“The success of the College depends on the collaboration and support of numerous government agencies and conservation organisations, underpinned by the financial support of our valued donors. MAVA Fondation pour la Nature is part of this success, having supported us – through Peace Parks Foundation – since 2013. We extend our sincere gratitude to them for this momentous contribution to our legacy,” said Theresa Sowry, Chief Executive Officer of the SAWC.