Beyond Silverbacks: Strengthening African Conservation Leadership
Strong and effective leadership from talented and committed African organizations is critical to achieving better conservation outcomes and meeting current challenges. For international organizations and funders, supporting the growth of effective local organizations and their individual leaders is a key strategic issue in building a more robust and durable African conservation field. This requires strong partnerships between international organizations and African organizations, and a long-term outlook on investing in local capacity. It also requires developing leadership models that respond to increasingly complex conservation challenges, including taking a ‘systems leadership’ approach that emphasizes collective action and collaboration of multiple, diverse actors. In 2016, with support from ABCG, Maliasili Initiatives, The Nature Conservancy, and Reos Partners have teamed up to develop a pilot initiative for strengthening ‘systems leadership’ in African conservation. Maliasili Initiatives also carried out a complementary study on partnership development between international organizations and local civil society groups. Initial findings, lessons, and opportunities emerging from this body of work will be shared and discussed.
Fred Nelson is the exectuive director of Malisali Initiatives, which supports the organization effectiveness, performance and impacts of leading African conservation and natural resource organizations. He has worked on natural resource management and sustainable development in East Africa since 1998, with eleven years spent living and working on the ground in Tanzania. He's served as both director and board member of leading conservation organizations in Tanzania, and has worked with a wide range of local and international groups to design and facilitate community-based conservation initiatives with local communities in northern Tanzania. His work has been published in journals such as Develpment and Change, Conservation Biology, Oryx, and Biodiversity & Conservation, and he is the editor of the volume Community Rights, Conservation and Contested Land: The Politics of Natural Resource Governance in Africa (Earthscan, 2010).