GDF Conservation and Communities Fellowship


An online and in-person Fellowship for leaders of Global South grassroots organisations working at the intersection of biodiversity and livelihoods


We are delighted to be launching our new Conservation and Communities Fellowship (CCF) which will start in November 2023 in collaboration with Common Purpose and The Human Edge. (previously known as Mowgli Mentoring). The Fellowship is a 10 month tailored learning and development programme for Global South leaders. It seeks to bring greater equity in the conservation funding flows from the Global North by supporting grassroots Global South civil society organisations to directly access funds for their projects and programmes.

The goal of the Fellowship is to enhance the skills, leadership and networks of 30 changemakers within Global South organisations who work at the intersection of biodiversity and livelihoods. The CCF will help participants to fundraise for their projects and programmes, successfully implement and measure the impact of their projects and programmes, and grow a supportive peer-learning and mentoring community.

The CCF is offered for free, thanks to the generosity of our funders. We will ask all fellows to contribute a modest sum towards their travel costs for the in-person event in Morocco in May 2024. We will offer support for individuals to fundraise to cover these costs, as well as application-based travel bursaries, to ensure that everyone has the same opportunity of participating.

Who is it for?

The Fellowship is open to applicants from the Global South who are leaders or project managers in local civil society or grassroots organisations whose work focuses on the intersection of biodiversity conservation and community livelihoods. Specifically, we are seeking candidates from Least Developed Countries, Low Income Countries and Lower Middle Income Countries (see the DAC list here). 

Successful candidates will be highly motivated individuals who show commitment to bring about positive change, and who can demonstrate their leadership potential and capability.  They are able to critically assess their personal and organisational challenges, and are capable of clearly articulating their learning requirements and needs.

We expect candidates to carefully review the Fellowship schedule (see below) and to commit to attending and actively participating in all of the online sessions plus the in-person meet-up in May 2024. 

Why take part?

Taking part in the Conservation and Communities Fellowship will allow participants to:

  • Grow new networks and collaborations;
  • Acquire mentoring and coaching skills to support colleagues, partners and collaborators;
  • Build robust technical and strategic skills in all areas, from building relationships with donors, through project implementation and impact measurement, to scaling up programmes;
  • Gain leadership capabilities and learn how to ‘Lead Beyond Authority’ – i.e. to lead and collaborate across sectors, geographies, cultures and social boundaries;
  • Support their organisations to successfully fundraise for their projects and programmes;
  • Participate in the International Society for Ethnobiology’s 18th biennial Congress in Marrakech, Morocco in May 2024;
  • Join the  Global Environments Network.

How will it work?

Fellows will receive integrated training and facilitated  peer group support in three streams: 

Mentoring, led by The Human Edge: participants will develop, practise and apply key mentoring skills, competencies and tools to grow, and to support their colleagues and partners to grow. Trained and matched in two-way peer to peer mentoring relationships, participants will enhance their leadership potential and tackle key challenges together.

Leadership, led by Common Purpose: participants will enhance their ability to ‘Lead Beyond Authority, enabling them to engage more effectively with donors and stakeholders. They will also learn the coaching approach to leadership and share personal challenges through peer group coaching.

Skills-building, led by Global Diversity Foundation in partnership with WildTeam: practical workshops and tailored technical assistance on proposal writing and project management. Fellows will receive ongoing support and mentorship from the GDF team throughout the Fellowship.

In addition, Fellows will join a 3-day in-person Community Exchange in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco from 12-14 May 2024 where they will deepen their knowledge, skills and capabilities. Immediately after the Exchange, Fellows will be invited to participate in the 18th Congress of the International Society for Ethnobiology from 15-19 May 2024 and to lead an interactive session provisionally entitled Conserving Biodiversity and Sustaining Local Livelihoods: Voices from the Global South.

Fellows will be expected to participate in all the online sessions of the Fellowship. 

The fellowship programme is shared here. A calendar version of the schedule is available for downloading from this link.


What is the Global Environments Network and what does joining the network entail?

The Global Environments Network (GEN) gathers over 650 people from over 80 countries who are working on the frontlines of social and ecological justice. We connect, support and amplify the work and voices of hundreds of changemakers, activists and innovators from all regions of the world who are actively seeking solutions to our shared planetary crisis. GEN members have an extraordinary diversity of backgrounds and experiences, with passions and projects committed to creating a more equitable and sustainable world. If you join the Conservation and Communities Fellowship you will automatically become a member of GEN. Benefits of membership include tailored mentoring, networking and collaboration opportunities, seed funding, as well as project guidance and support.

Testimonials from GEN members

About Common Purpose:

Common Purpose is a global not-for-profit on a mission to develop people who can cross cultural, institutional and social boundaries. Both at work and in society. They deliver compelling, surprising, and powerful leadership programmes and workshops. They give people of all generations the skills, mindset and spark to find a common purpose. The thought leadership of Leading Beyond Authority was developed by Common Purpose to equip and inspire leaders to work across boundaries.

“When I applied for the Leaders for Nature Academy organised by Mowgli Mentoring and Common Purpose, I had no idea how much it would impact both my personal and professional life! The tools and resources provided by both organisations empowered me to become an effective, supportive mentor, and so much more confident in my decision-making as a leader with GDF. Since then, I have felt part of a supportive, international cohort of mentors and leaders.”

~ Nessie Reid, GDF Co-director

What is Leading Beyond Authority?

Many successful leaders learn to lead in roles or circumstances where they have clear authority, budget, and accountability. When they move beyond this – leading peers, partners, and stakeholders – the skills that brought them success may not be sufficient. To operate effectively, they need a different approach to leadership – the ability to Lead Beyond Authority. This means that a leader can adapt to different contexts, seeing the wider picture, taking greater responsibility for the whole rather than just their individual part and breaking down silos to work across boundaries.


The Human Edge (previously, Mowgli Mentoring) operates on the belief that effective mentoring empowers individuals and organisations to go further, faster. By enabling entrepreneurs and leaders to unlock their human potential, they can better lead others, make more informed decisions, build stronger organisations and networks – and support their communities and countries to fulfil their long-term economic and social potential.

“Mowgli Mentoring’s training went way beyond the basics of ‘learning how to mentor’. It expanded my understanding of the potential of human relationships and it taught me how to see and capture the limitless opportunities that arise when we learn how to truly listen and be in presence with others. Combined with Common Purpose’s training in Leading Beyond Authority, this brought my understanding of leadership to a new level. From being a “responsibility” and a skill I needed to learn, leadership became for me a path of personal growth, connection and possibility.”

Emily Caruso, GDF Co-director

What is mentoring?

Mentoring is a long-term trust-based relationship between two people where the agenda and direction is set by the mentee. Mentors who are trained act as a sounding board but also as a guide who shares their knowledge and wisdom with no vested interest in their mentees other than to see them grow professionally and personally as individuals. When paired with other leadership development activities, effective mentoring creates a space for deeper exploration, reflection, analysis, and translation of theory into practice, amplifying the effects of learning and personal growth.

Deadline: 17 September

Conservation and Communities Fellowship: FAQs

Please note that these FAQs are regularly updated to include new questions and answers.

1. How much time will I need to set aside from my daily activities to participate actively in the fellowship? + -

You will need to set aside on average 3 hours per week for the 10 weeks of the course. There will be breaks over the course of the 10 months: a 3-week break for Christmas and a two-week break during the in-person event. The in-person event represents 10 full days in Morocco, including travel days.

2. Can I apply for the fellowship if I am not affiliated with a grassroots conservation organisation? + -

We are looking for candidates who are working within established grassroots conservation organisations, ideally that work directly with communities. If you are advanced in the process of setting up a local organisation, please do consider applying, as we may decide to save some spots for leaders who are poised to submit their first proposals to launch their organisation.

3. What if I work for a larger national or international organisation? + -

Our ideal candidates work for grassroots organisations that are seeking to build their capacity to obtain direct grants from donors. While leaders in organisations that are well-established at the national level and international organisations are welcome to apply, we will be prioritising local organisations in our applicant selection process.

4. What if I work for a social enterprise or a company? + -

Applications from these sectors will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, dependent on their relationship with community-based grassroots organisations and initiatives. It is unlikely that many candidates from these sectors will be selected.

5. Must I speak English to participate? + -

Yes, a good understanding of English, and the ability to write funding proposals in English, is essential to participate in this fellowship. While GDF can offer some limited editing support for funding proposals, the core of proposal-writing will be carried out by the fellows. Furthermore, the mentoring component of the fellowship requires fellows to be at ease in a one-on-one conversation in English with their peer-mentoring counterpart.

6. Will the fellowship eventually be offered in other languages? + -

Given the number of requests we have had for this offering in other languages, we will be exploring mechanisms to offer some elements of the curriculum in other languages, funding permitting. We will also examine the possibility of offering the fellowship in different languages in the future, from 2025 onwards. Please sign up to GDF’s newsletter to remain abreast of any updates.