The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) has led innovation in African conservation approaches for nearly 60 years. AWF advocates for the protection of wildlife and wild lands as an essential part of a modern and prosperous Africa. AWF articulates a uniquely African vision, bridges science and public policy, and demonstrates the economic and social benefits of conservation to with outcomes that are simultaneously ‘good’ for both wildlife and people.
AWF is proud to have partnered with the Government of Rwanda (GoR) and people living in the Virungas for more than four decades resulting in increasing populations of endangered mountain gorillas and improved human livelihoods. AWF enthusiastically endorses the ‘green growth’ conservation model for which Rwanda is globally known. AWF’s 10-year vision aspires to replicate this model throughout Africa.
Rwanda has demonstrated to the world that conservation and development are not mutually exclusive. The country is leading holistic conservation and green growth initiatives as part of ambitious Vision 2050 plans. These efforts will create 1.5 million jobs by 2024. AWF’s ambition is to contribute to these plans by catalyzing biodiversity-based economic growth. While communities living around protected areas are benefitting from conservation – $5.8 million USD were invested in community projects over the last 14 years – the ambition is to increase these benefits and link economic development across all sectors around the park in a way that secures wildlife as a source of opportunity for Rwandans. Wildlife tourism, ecological restoration, agricultural processing, and innovative forestry products for domestic and regional and international export markets are all part of an integrated solution to catalyzing an economic transformation anchored on the protection and restoration of wildlife and the ecological system around the park. The park expansion plan presents an opportunity to jumpstart this transformation.
The Director will be responsible for providing overall leadership, strategic focus, management and accountability for performance of AWF’s work in Rwanda which aims to demonstrate to Africa and the world how conservation and development go hand-in-hand by creating a Conservation Investment Blueprint for the Volcanoes National Park Landscape combining policy, investment, and business-engagement elements in an integrated framework for economic development to accompany plans to expand the area designated for protection of the mountain gorilla. Key to success will be working with the GOR, communities and the private sector to identify viable strategies for securing the livelihoods of the people living in the landscape and trigger a transformation of the economy around the park towards green growth. The Director will also lead efforts to expand this model across Rwanda and work closely with the External Affairs and Strategic Communications teams to articulate lessons and insights from the experience into international forums planned to take place in Rwanda such as the Africa Protected Areas Congress and the Commonwealth set of meetings.
Ultimately the aim is to enable the Government of Rwanda; Rwanda Development Board; the leadership of the Musanze, Burera, Nyabihu and Rubavu Districts and the 12 Sectors directly implicated in the park expansion plan; businesses and investors operating in the landscape; and the people living around the park to create one or more economic scenarios with policy and investment options that RDB can use to catalyze investment in the region.