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


The Conservation and Communities Fellowship (CCF) launched on 1 November 2023 in collaboration with Common Purpose and The Human Edge (previously known as Mowgli Mentoring). CCF 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 access funds for their projects and programmes directly.

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

The CCF is offered for free thanks to the generosity of our funders. We ask all fellows to contribute a modest sum towards their travel costs for the in-person event in Morocco in May 2024. We also 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 to participate.

CCF Participants

We have selected 31 participants from 19 Global South countries 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.

Participants have been selected based on specific criteria. They have demonstrated a high level of motivation and a strong commitment to effecting positive change. They exhibit leadership potential and the capability to evaluate both personal and organisational challenges critically. They are proficient in articulating their learning needs and requirements clearly. As CCF participants, they are now a part of the Global Environments Network.


We will meet for 52 online sessions and six in-person days over the 10 months. The 52 online sessions are split into three streams:

The Mentoring Stream (9 sessions), led by The Human Edge, is where the cohort will:

  • Develop, practice and apply key mentoring skills, competencies, approaches and tools through a modular mentoring training programme
  • Establish meaningful connections with peers, launch matched peer mentoring relationships and commence 1-1 peer mentoring sessions, focussed initially on building connection, rapport and trust as the foundational platform for working together over the months ahead
  • Work in matched peer mentoring pairs over an 8-month period where all participants benefit and grow through giving and receiving mentoring

The Leadership Stream (8 sessions), led by Common Purpose, is where the cohort will:

  • Develop the leadership capabilities to work more effectively with donors from the global North (through Leading Beyond Authority)
  • Explore with global North donors and practitioners in the field how to turn the theory into practice
  • Share their personal leadership challenges with peers and develop the coaching approach to leadership. This will help to develop a community of practice across the cohort, which will benefit both their day-to-day work and their interaction with global North donors

The Capabilities & Capacities Stream (33 sessions), led by Global Diversity Foundation in partnership with WildTeam, is where our cohort will learn specific technical skills related to proposal writing, project management, HR management and so on:

  • Proposal submission: This project supports CSO leaders (cohort members) in submitting high-quality grant proposals to diverse Global North donors. Over the initial two-year project, we plan to support the submission of a minimum of 30 grant proposals
  • Project management: Building CSO leaders’ capacities to manage their projects and programmes and build excellent relationships with donors, stakeholders and other partners

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.

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


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. Common Purpose developed the thought leadership of Leading Beyond Authority 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 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.

“The Human Edge’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.