Esther, we are so excited to have you join our team! Tell us a bit about your journey here?
I have always had a passion for sustainable development as it pertains to addressing conservation-related challenges and ensuring development occurs in tandem with the preservation and protection of our natural world. As a Wildlife Conservation Scholar and International Business and Trade Graduate, my multi-disciplinary academic and professional experiences have allowed me to understand the urgency today in cultivating intersections across conservation and other advancing spaces such as entrepreneurship and technology to amplify conservation efforts through innovation, collaboration and cross sectoral knowledge exchange.
What are the key strengths and areas of experise you're bringing to working with our community?
- Multi-Stakeholder Engagement
I am particularly interested in mainstreaming environmental conservation across diverse sectors for better outcomes and a more sustainable future. Working as part of the organising team for the Business of Conservation Conference enlightened me on the methods towards fostering multi-stakeholder engagement towards conservation efforts and the important role it can play in realising new combined futures. Additionally, while working in the African Wildlife Foundation's Policy & Partnerships Department, I was able to refine my skills in cross-sectoral engagements through helping to organise a high-level Nature-based Economy Dialogue between African CSOs and the UK Government, develop a China-Africa Youth Development Webinar on Sustainability across Sectors, as well as develop a digital tool for collating smart data on African CSOs for better decision-making.
- Research & Project Management
Across my roles at multinational firms and global teams, I have nurtured the ability to research, develop and actualise high-level projects, gaining skills in event, people and resource management. My experiences have enlightened me on systems thinking through the interrelationship between our environment, people, economics, governance and development as it applies to current contemporary issues such as technological advancement, climate change and sustainable development. I enjoy undertaking conservation-focused research to inform strategy and development around key issues, such as representation and inclusion. This is what motivated my thesis on Female Founded East African Climate-Focused Startups Funding Disparity and led to a continent-wide International Women's Day 2022 impact campaign highlighting successful African women in such spaces to advocate for better outcomes titled #WeAreHere.
What excites you about Conservation Technology?
Technology today is rapidly evolving in its functionality, intelligence, and ability in solving complex problems. What will define this next era of massive technological advancement will be how and where it will be applied. One if not the most important area where this technology needs to be utilized urgently is in protecting and preserving what is left of our natural world to fight the progressing impacts of climate change and restore our planet. Conservation technology whether using AI, Data Analytics or Drones is helping us to understand nature and the key problems afflicting it clearer with effective scalable solutions where we previously did not have the ability to see the full picture. Conservation Technology has immense potential to restore our natural world and most importantly mainstream preserving nature into the defining sector of our time - technology.
What does your role at WILDLABS East Africa entail?
My role involves supporting and nurturing a community of practice in the East African regional conservation technology community through the development of tools, resources and events to facilitate knowledge sharing, collaboration and the adoption of conservation technology in the region. I will work to build an understanding of the conservation technology landscape across East Africa, connecting with the key players within this unique space, as well as identifying needs, opportunities, and challenges towards conservation technology uptake in the region for better outcomes.
What vision do you have for the WILDLABS East Africa Group?
Personally, I believe that the East African region is uniquely placed to serve as a leading conservation tech hub globally because of its deep-rooted and active conservation sector and burgeoning tech landscape, being home to the Silicon Savannah. The aspirations I have for the East African conservation technology group are:
- Awareness & Participation - I aim to promote the existence of the WILDLABS East Africa Group among the key players within this space across the region to grow awareness of the existence of a conservation tech community and cultivate active participation and engagement within this unique sector. Additionally, by growing participation, I hope to incorporate the East African perspective and voice into global conservation tech conversations by inviting regional practitioners for events such as our highly acclaimed Variety Hour to showcase the exciting innovations and work they have been undertaking in the region.
- Community & Support - I hope to build a sense of community within the WILDLABS East Africa Group, where all conservation technologists across the biodiverse countries of East Africa have a place to call home, where they can congregate with peers-alike and discuss their unique experiences, wins, challenges and opportunities within this space unique to their conservation and tech landscapes. A place where we can have monthly catchups and gatherings to share resources and exchange perspectives as we grow together.
- Information & Knowledge Sharing - I seek to collate useful resources and information that can guide and assist conservation technologists working across East Africa through discussion forums encouraging knowledge sharing, virtual events showcasing practical examples of how technology can be applied to solve a conservation-related challenge and opportunities for growth and progression in the daily work conservation technologists in the region undertake.
I would love to hear from you about how you are using technology to bolster conservation efforts across East Africa or even if you are just getting started - what your areas of interest are and how you see yourself contributing and benefiting from the East Africa Community. I would be happy to share with you tools and resources on our platform that you might find useful and explore any new avenues that can enrich your experience with us. As an East Africa Community member, I look forward to supporting you along your journey here on WILDLABS!