Two fellow South Africans were having a sip of ‘brewed’ water on a balcony in Amman, Jordan, reflecting on a journey travelled, knowing more about each other and how they have grown as individuals and future leaders. This led to an ‘Aha!’ moment. “Why don’t we introduce the opportunity that we have been exposed to back home? Let’s start our own “Mava Leaders for Nature Academy” programme to impact the conservation sector with a view to solving some of the complex problems faced,” said Clive Poultney to Sboniso Phakathi, the duo who were chosen from the Southern African Wildlife College to attend the Academy workshops in Amman and London.
Against the backdrop of the MAVA Foundation having funded the leadership programme facilitated by Common Purpose International, Clive Poultney kicked off negotiations to turn these initial discussions into reality. This led to a three-way partnership between the Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC), Environmental and Sustainability Agency (ESA) and Common Purpose SA (CPSA), submitting a funding proposal to the Mava Foundation via Peace Parks Foundation. The SAWC as the lead applicant together with the partners managed to secure a grant of €517, 400 / R8.1 million for a two-year pilot (starting 1 October 2019). The project will test the concept and programmes, and measure the impacts a programme of this nature could have on the conservation sector.
The eventual model is an African Intergenerational Leadership Hub (AIGLH) developed out of the need to develop conservation and community leaders to cross their comfort zones and expand their boundaries in solving complex problems in conservation that impact communities.
Progress to date is: Applications for community participants are in process, an off-the-grid containerised project office has been set up at the SAWC and two project staff members have been recruited. The first community leadership-based programme will start on 29 January 2020 with the Kwa-Ximba community in KwaZulu-Natal, hosted by the Mayibuye Community Trust at the Mayibuye Game Reserve training centre.
Post the two-year pilot, it is expected that the AIGLH will continue presenting leadership programmes for conservation and community leaders across Africa, forming part of the SAWC’s key offerings to the conservation sector to bring about the necessary change in current conservation thinking and decision-making paradigms.