The Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI) is a unique collaboration between the University of Cambridge and nine leading internationally-focused biodiversity conservation organisations. The CCI partners together combine and integrate research, education, policy and practice to create innovative solutions for society and to foster conservation learning and leadership.
Biodiversity loss is now more rapid and widespread than at any other time in human history, despite the concerted efforts of many organisations over many years. Over two-thirds of our marine environment has been altered by human activity; more than a third of the world’s land surface is dedicated to crop or livestock production; and 1 million animal and plant species are currently threatened with complete extinction.
Biodiversity is one of the most complex features of our planet and perhaps its most vital. We rely on a diverse range of plants and animals for everything from food to medicine, climate stability to recovery from natural disasters. Without this essential feature of our planet, our very survival as a species on Earth is at risk.
Addressing the complex set of causes behind biodiversity’s decline requires a cross-sectoral, interdisciplinary approach. It is not enough to have one set of researchers in one field working on this issue. The solution to this problem requires a range and breadth of disciplines, integrating research, policy development and worldwide collaboration.
In 2020, the Turner Kirk Trust provided a donation of £250,000 to the Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI) to establish the Turner Fellows Programme. The goal of the programme is to foster cross-disciplinary collaboration and to integrate diverse areas of expertise across science, policy and practice.
The Turner Fellows Programme enables CCI to engage with influential individuals from mainstream business, policy and civil society. While each fellow will come from different backgrounds, the broad trajectory of the programme will be the same, starting with a period of crystallising the fellowship questions and research areas, followed by the intensive, immersive phase, before a period of reflection on what has emerged during their time in Cambridge. To ensure long-term impact and collaboration, each Turner Fellow will remain engaged in CCI’s work within their respective organisations, with the opportunity to continue to explore mutually beneficial ideas and projects.
Turner Fellows are drawn from a diverse range of sectors, including law, finance, policy, and NGOs. They are resident in Cambridge during their tenure, working with CCI partners in the David Attenborough Building.
Launched at the start of 2020, the Turner Fellows Programme will run until 2025.
The inaugural Turner Fellow of the programme is Qin Ran, the Nature Education Project Manager at the Paradise Foundation, an environmental NGO which focuses on state-protected reserves in China. Ran spends most of her time at Paradise’s nature reserves in order to gain local knowledge and improve local performance.
During Ran’s time as a Turner Fellow, she is focusing on large scale ecological restoration, an area of mutual interest for both the Paradise Foundation and CCI. This will include questions around how restoration might become financially sustainable, and how to use technology for both wildlife monitoring and public engagement.
An innovative pilot project by SolarAid to provide solar lights to every household in an off-grid village in central Malawi, aiding their mission to light up all of rural Africa by 2030.
The University of Cambridge and the Turner Kirk Trust have launched the Kirk Global Challenge, a competition designed to jump-start economic growth in the developing world.
A new student-led research programme to develop new unmanned aerial vehicles to fight back against climate change and poaching, funded by the Trust.
A visiting fellowship programme hosted at the Isaac Newton Institute to support underrepresented groups within higher mathematical research.
An early intervention programme designed to improve the quality of healthcare for pregnant women and newborns in Rajasthan, India.