Winner Network Development

Through a thriving, active and supportive network of Whitley Award alumni, WFN aims to maximise conservation impact using South-South collaboration

Whitley Fund for Nature’s Winner Network Development (WND) programme facilitates collaboration, training, and knowledge-exchange activities across a network over 200 Whitley Award alumni spanning 80 Global South countries. The programme seeks to maximise the conservation impact of individuals by fostering connections across a thriving, active and supportive network of past WFN Award winners.

By developing skills and strengthening knowledge across our alumni network there is huge potential to increase the impact of conservation projects, improve biodiversity protection and enhance the efficacy of those spearheading ethical community-led programmes.

Through sharing successes, failures and the lessons learnt, conservationists can scale up innovative solutions that are known to work, and receive much needed support when things aren’t going as planned, allowing them to pivot amid challenging circumstances.

The WND programme has grown into one of the charity’s key areas of focus, rooted in the importance of listening and responding to winners’ needs and supporting south-south collaboration, with a vision to bring about long term, positive conservation outcomes as a collective.

The WND programme has three main goals:

  1. Build connections to create a supportive and resilient network of winners;
  2. Strengthen capacity across the Global South, including through peer-to-peer approaches;
  3. Promote collaboration to increase the scope and impact of winner projects.

WFN connects winners through regular correspondence, peer-led training, and actively supporting regional and thematic groups chaired by Winners themselves; thus fostering a safe space where alumni can exchange knowledge, share successes and learnings between peers, and create an active group of conservationists willing to assist one another.

Collaborative winner projects are actively encouraged, and funded through Continuation Funding and the Whitley Gold Award.

winner Network training:

In-person training is provided to new Whitley Award winners in London during the Awards Ceremony Week and then through annual regional training courses open to all alumni, rotating annually between Africa, Latin America and Asia. These opportunities to strengthen capacity ensure conservation leaders on-the-ground have the necessary skills, support, and confidence to tackle challenges first-hand, putting what they have learned into practice. The network also has access to a resource hub containing useful templates, training courses and fundraising support.

Africa Regional Winner Training

Our inaugural regional training took place in Kenya in 2022, bringing together 14 of our Africa-based Whitley Award winners for a week of learning, networking and idea sharing based on their stated needs and own experiences. By holding this training in-person, participants were given the opportunity to meet and learn from one another, forging long-term alumni connections and collaboration opportunities.

Each Whitley Award winner who attended brought with them a wealth of knowledge and experience from their own projects taking place across Africa, with experienced Whitley Award alumni guiding sessions on NGO operations and management and Communication Skills, and academically-led sessions on Developing Your Theory of Change, Conservation Planning and Measuring Conservation Impacts.

Latin America Regional Winner Training

Our second in-person Regional Winner Training week took place at IPÊ in Brazil in 2023, with 14 winners in attendance once more.

Many of those in attendance represented 20 or more years of experience in their field and brought with them an enthusiasm for consolidating their knowledge of best practices developed over this time.

Creating a safe space for peer-to-peer knowledge exchange, and by fostering a supportive network of past Whitley Award winners, the week sought to maximise the conservation impact of participants at this critical moment in the battle to save biodiversity and equip those leading efforts with the tools and confidence to deliver solutions.

Workshops during the week focused on: NGO Management and Operations, Stakeholder engagement, Nature positive livelihoods, Measuring conservation impacts, NGO succession, Burn out and Sustainable fundraising.

An introduction to PARTNERS Principles – a programme for community led conservation, developed by the 2022 Whitley Gold Award winner Charu Mishra and funded by WFN – was delivered by Micaela Camino (2022 Whitley Award), after she attended PARTNERS Principles training with Charu in Bishkek last year.

asia Regional Winner Training

We’re excited to take our regional training weeks to our winners in Asia in the next year, as we build more opportunities for our Winner Network Development programme, and work on our collective mission to support courageous changemakers leading in local solutions to the global biodiversity and climate crises.