African Leadership College: Conserving African’s Wildlife To Derive Cultural And Economic Value
THE MANTLE AT HAND: CONSERVING AFRICA’S WILDLIFE TO DERIVE CULTURAL AND ECONOMIC VALUE
Our continent: a home to millions of wildebeests and more than 20,000 wild lions. The land where the majestic Kilimanjaro stands, and where the serene but turbulent Nile river runs its course. Though it is endowed with an exceptional diversity of wild fauna and flora, Africa is facing an accelerated rate of biodiversity loss. This is an African crisis that we cannot just stand by and watch unfold. The continent needs home-grown African leaders to spearhead new and innovative approaches in the business of conservation.
It’s for this reason that we launched the ALU School of Wildlife Conservation (SoWC). The first of its kind, the SoWC is dedicated to teaching the next generation of conservation leaders on the continent. The approach of the School is unique: teaching much-needed business and leadership skills and exposing students to real-world experience, to ensure economic development and long-term sustainability of our built and natural environment. The School identifies, educates and connects these leaders to existing conservationists across the continent through a Conservation specialization in our Global Challenges undergraduate degree, our Conservation MBA program, and our executive education courses.
On this account, we were thrilled to launch the inaugural Business of Conservation Conference (#ALUBCC) in Kigali from October 31st to November 2nd 2018. The conference brought together key leaders in conservation, CEOs, entrepreneurs, technologists, investors, entrepreneurs, academics, and political leaders to explore business and investment opportunities related to one of our greatest African assets: our rich and unique wildlife. As we were planning this conference, our vision was to create a gathering that allowed participants to explore the intersection of business, development, and conservation. We opened up conversations about how to bring a new entrepreneurial energy and vision to African conservation, allowing participants to engage with the most innovative work in conservation today, and to hear first-hand about successful models and emerging opportunities.
With more than 260 participants spread out across the three days, the conference was a major success on many fronts. The first day was marked by the Jennifer Oppenheimer Memorial Lecture which honoured Jennifer’s memory–a conservationist and philanthropist who supported the School of Wildlife Conservation since its inception. During this lecture, we recognised an outstanding and inspiring global leader who supports the vital connection between economic development and wildlife conservation, Anders Holch Povlsen. The day was closed off by a welcome cocktail where guests mingled in a more relaxed atmosphere and where the Virtual Reality movie “Rewild” was premiered.
The second day of the conference was kicked off by the remarkable presence of the President of the Republic of Rwanda, His Excellency, Paul Kagame. During the welcome ceremony, he reminded the audience that wildlife conservation is everyone’s business. The remaining sessions of the conference were filled with engaging talks, educative panels, refreshing speeches, innovative experientials and informative discussions. We also heard unconventional ideas for conservation which inspired the audience, and held a pitch contest–the Needs & Leads session–that helped build new partnerships to bring these ideas to life. One of our goals was to bring this conference to the next level where real change is taking place; this is why the closing ceremony on the third day was launched by the Commitment to Conservation session where some of our participants shared their commitments to making an impact in their community and beyond. We heard compelling pledges which together are expected to lead to $600M in investment, occur in 15+ African countries, and have a positive impact on 100+ communities. On our side, we have made the commitment to follow these projects and to track the impact they will have on wildlife conservation. The conference was brought to a graceful close by our guest of honour, Honourable Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry in Botswana, Bogolo Kenewendo, who emphasised the importance of making commitments to not only conservation but to communities.