The Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN) is a fundraising and grant giving nature conservation charity offering funding training and recognition to grassroots conservation leaders. To date we have supported over 190 conservation heroes in 80 countries across the Global South, distributing grants worth nearly £15 million. WFN supports the scale up of proven community conservation approaches and celebrates success. Rather than focusing on ‘doom and gloom’ stories, we champion those who are making a measurable difference for endangered wildlife – often against the odds – and help share positive stories about their impact.

We do this though the Whitley Awards, also known as the ‘Green Oscars’. The Awards are open application and highly competitive. Each is worth £40,000 in project funding over one year. They are presented by the charity’s patron, HRH The Princess Royal at a London Ceremony in front of 500 guests including Trustee, Sir David Attenborough.

The winners spend a week in the UK where they attend a number of networking events with donors and NGOs. Whitley Award winners also participate in professional speech and media training to strengthen their communication skills and ability to inspire the public with positive conservation news that encourages engagement and environmental philanthropy.

Winning an Award significantly boosts the profile of unsung conservationists, putting an international spotlight on their successful work. In doing so it helps build local pride and increases access to decision makers, the media and funding opportunities. Our global winner network share information and mentor each other to continue to develop best practice in conservation.

Since our founding 25 years ago, Conservation Optimism has always been a part of what WFN and our winners do – sharing success stories and recognising that it is possible to make a difference while remaining realistic about the challenges. In that sense, we already feel like part of the CO Network and are embracing the vision! By partnering with CO we hope to help spread the positive conservation message and engage a wider audience with the ethos that we can all make a difference. We have so many positive stories to tell and feel they need to be heard. Now more than ever people want to hear positive news and live more sustainably. We need to continue to build momentum and harness public enthusiasm to change behavior, encourage giving to environmental causes and ultimately drive conservation higher up the political agenda.

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