A movement in Ethical Conservation launches at WFN’s People For Planet Summit

On 6th November we celebrated the public launch of the Ethical Conservation Alliance from our #PeopleForPlanet Summit.

The Ethical Conservation Alliance spearheads a movement in ethical conservation, offering training, resources and mentorship to conservation practitioners, enabling them to respectfully engage with local communities.

Local and indigenous communities often live closest to biodiversity. The Ethical Conservation Alliance places local people at the centre of conservation efforts as part of a just and equitable approach that seeks to ensure communities are supported to play a key role in safeguarding their environment through their living knowledge of the socio-ecological system, by engaging in biodiversity policy and importantly via a process that upholds human and indigenous peoples’ rights.

Globally, an estimated 130 million people have been displaced from their homes to make way for reserves and protected areas – referred to as conservation refugees. These actions, along with restrictions on traditional access and natural resource use, have resulted in local opposition to conservation efforts in many parts of the world.

As international biodiversity targets to protect 30% of the planet by 2030 are implemented, local and indigenous communities will be the most critical partners in conservation. Not engaging with them constructively and respectfully will lead to further conflict between marginalised citizens and conservation practice if communities are not seen as part of the solution.

The Ethical Conservation Alliance is fuelled by the multi-generational experience of credible conservationists who represent more than 500 years of proven, locally-led, community-based conservation approaches in 29 countries. Their goal is to help create a global shift towards ethical conservation and deliver training programmes for conservation practitioners to implement a change from traditional, top-down conservation approaches, to programmes that successfully support the involvement and leadership of local and indigenous communities.

WFN has supported the Ethical Conservation Alliance with its initial PARTNERS Principles training programme, held by 2022 Gold Award winner Charudutt Mishra in Kyrgyzstan in 2022. Six past Whitley Award winners attended the training, including 2023 Gold Award winner Dr Shivani Bhalla — who delivered subsequent training to her own team in Kenya — and 2022 Whitley Award Winner Micaela Camino, who continued the training by leading a session herself at our inaugural Latin America Regional Winner Training week.

A statement regarding the need to promote ethical conservation was issued by this group and others in the Alliance, and it was referenced by the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic in their official address at the 2022 United Nations Biodiversity CoP15 in Montreal.

By reaching professional organisations seeking to redress and transform conservation approaches to incorporate considerations of philosophy, morality and intersectionality, but lacking the experience and access to knowledge needed to make the most meaningful changes; the Alliance will use its expertise and network to bring local and indigenous people to the forefront of conservation recognition.

The Ethical Conservation Alliance aims to begin a ripple effect movement to make successful, ethical, community-led conservation globally attainable by giving conservation practitioners the knowledge and tools to themselves become teachers of ethical conservation practices within their own organisations and networks – recognising that bottom-up approaches need strong community leadership to succeed and eliminating the need to repeat decades of learning.

Find out more about their work and discover videos and resources at