discussion / Community Base  / 29 July 2019

Discussion: 5 Ways To Advance Conservation Entrepreneurship

Just read this article from August 2016. I found it highly relevant and wanted to post it to get some discussion going. Post something and I promise to keep the conversation going ^_^

Some key points that stood out to me:

  • Human behavior is the key driver of biodiversity loss and ecological degradation and should be the main focus of conservation intervention. 
  • Conservation is really about social change, not biodiversity science (though it is an important component)
  • It's rare to find a conservation project based on a clear and testable hypothesis of behavioral change
  • Conservation needs to avoid getting stuck at the project level by designing adaptable and scalable interventions - They cite a few projects that created models for scalability. I wonder if there's yet another problem at this level, where now we get a bunch of scalability models but no resources to scale them. In which case, that's not really scalable, is it.
  • Funding organizations should prioritize the scalable solutions. Entrepreneurs and funders needs to be linked up.
  • We need new organizational structures that can direct/leverage the small-scale, local conservation projects, towards a big picture, in a planned way.

Their concluding paragraph:

"Meeting today’s growing conservation challenges will require that we find new ways of thinking about and practicing conservation, rooted in solving social problems through scalable methods and prototypes that deliver results. Conservation investors, practitioners, and scholars need to work together to reimagine a bolder, more integrated and entrepreneurial conservation field that is up to the challenge."



Let's discuss conservation from the entrepreneurial point of view. Feel free to add any questions if you feel they would improve the depth of the conversation.

What do you think about the entrepreneurial approach to conservation?

What kind of organizational structure could facilitate multi-project coordination for large-scale conservation goals?

What are the limitations?

Is there really a market here?

How do you see the market?

How can we drive social change?

What is the role of biologists is driving social change?

Is social change the end-all? 

What are barriers of entry for actually creating the social change?




I'll start.

My current thinking is that social-change is impractical to achieve directly. I think that ultimately, we cannot start by depending on human altruism and changing view points because economic issues such as poverty are too prevalent, especially where lots of habitat destruction occurs (Brasil gold mining, illegal logging, unsustainable palm oil farming). Economic incentive must be the primary driver. People must be able to make more money using sustainable approaches than they do with the unsustainable. For that, the sustainable approaches must be more efficient or serve a larger market. I'm not set in this thinking by any means, but it seems to me be a strong viewpoint. It's pure business. 

That said, I think conservation efforts should be focused on doing that business development worldwide and one place for biologists would be in ensuring that the production being done is actually sustianable. The kinds of business development might be "clean gold", another example is the Brasil nuts that are produced by an indigenous forest community. How many more businesses like Brasil nuts can we produce? Can we make sustainable wood cheaper/better than unsustainable? 

I think the most important issue to address is "How do we choke unsustainable supply chains?"