In the face of mounting global conservation challenges, there was one good thing to come out of 2016: the first ever Conservation Lab un-conference in May saw some of the leading figures in conservation and travel gather at Spier Wine Farm in Stellenbosch to share ideas and generate new thinking, all in the name of saving our natural world.
Imagined as a beacon of hope on an otherwise bleak conservation landscape, Founder Serge Dive remains positive about the potential for change: “We’ve got the players, we’ve got the skills – all we need is to come together as a team. Then, We Can Fight Our Way Back”.
“Creativity in conservation is important. We need fresh ideas, and we need to find them in a non-linear way. So that’s what we’re going to do – create collaboration and conversation”.
If the aim of the Conservation Lab was to devise a new approach – one that fully engaged participants, inspired creative thinking and revealed the hidden talents and expertise of our peers – then the inaugural event was a roaring success (excuse the pun). In addition to informal networking over drinks, barbecues and late-night film screenings, three key un-conference elements were introduced to get the best out of participants: SPARK, DISCUSS and TEAMWORK.
A SPARK is a 15-slide presentation, automatically timed to 15 seconds per slide, in which participants were tasked to explain their big conservation idea in a short, sharp and succinct way. DISCUSS saw 30 collaborative conversations take place in the relaxed surroundings of the Spier grounds, with participants signing up to lead a session on a topic of their choosing. TEAMWORK challenged teams of five or six to decide how they would spend a huge (imaginary) grant on conservation, before presenting their solution on the final night. And alongside this crowd-sourced content, big hitters General Johan Jooste and Virunga National Park Director Emmanuel de Merode provided some context by describing their personal conservation battles.
But this is only the beginning – effecting change takes more than one weekend. As part of an ongoing commitment to aligning the worlds of travel and conservation and pushing forward joint conservation efforts, Beyond Luxury Media has launched the second Conservation Lab, taking place from 29 April – 1 May 2017. To find out more check out the website, or apply to take part now.