We believe in transformed, enhanced, and maintained African landscapes

We contribute to this vision through promoting inclusive, diversified, and flourishing wildlife economies across the continent. The success of our efforts to promote sustainable environmental, social, and economic outcomes can best be envisioned at the landscape level, where multiple outcomes for nature, climate, livelihoods, and communities come into being.

We see wildlife economies as a means to attain the vision of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development:

We envisage a world in which every country enjoys sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth and decent work for all.

A world in which consumption and production patterns and use of all natural resources – from air to land, from rivers, lakes and aquifers to oceans and seas - are sustainable....

One in which humanity lives in harmony with nature and in which wildlife and other living species are protected.

We see wildlife economies as a means to attain the vision of the Global Biodiversity Framework adopted in December 2022 at the 15th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity. In this regard, AWEI aims to explicitly contribute to the following Goals and Targets:

Goal B. Biodiversity is sustainably used and managed and nature’s contributions to people… are valued, maintained, and enhanced…

Target 5. Ensure that the use, harvesting and trade of wild species is sustainable, safe, and legal…

Target 9. Ensure that the management and use of wild species are sustainable, thereby providing social, economic, and environmental benefits for people…

To achieve our vision, AWEI undertakes activities to:

  • Strengthen the enabling environment - key public and private policy and regulatory frameworks supporting the growth of a sustainable, inclusive, and transformative wildlife economy.
  • Promote thriving wildlife enterprise - wildlife enterprises set up across the continent contributing to wildlife conservation and sustainable development.

As wildlife economies are complex systems, the enabling policy environment needs to be strengthened at multiple levels from the rural village to the district council to the national ministry to the regional economic community to multilateral environmental and trade agreements.

Best practices and enhanced sustainability across value chains within the wildlife economy also need to be identified and supported. Working with key players – landowners and users, communities, producers, consumers, and interested parties – we support the development of standards for sustainability and the ability to develop successful wildlife enterprises.

Through working at multiple levels with key decision-makers and stakeholders, we build shared understanding and aligned capacities to develop effective policies and regulatory frameworks for the wildlife economy.

Our activities deliver the following outcomes:

  • Knowledge generated - knowledge gaps inhibiting the wildlife economy and wildlife enterprise discovered and addressed through impactful research and analysis by the AWEI team, Fellows, Partners, and others
  • Stakeholders engaged - identified stakeholders across Africa are engaged using knowledge generated by AWEI and others to improve understanding, and are empowered to identify their interests and adapt their behaviour in support of the wildlife economy and wildlife enterprise
  • Capacity developed - capacity to sustain knowledge generation and stakeholder engagement in support the wildlife economy and wildlife enterprises is developed and strengthened through academic studies and technical training

The Institute

AWEI is an academic unit within the Faculty of AgriSciences of Stellenbosch University. It conducts and facilitates research and studies, disseminates knowledge and information, and organises and participates in events to promote the wildlife economy in Africa.

The study of wildlife economies is inherently multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary. It includes the application of business management, economics, law, philosophy, and science. Hence, the academic mandate of AWEI is to work across the faculties of Stellenbosch University and also to collaborate with universities, research institutes, and conservation organisations across the African continent.

Founded in 2018, the Institute became fully operational in mid-2021 through a partnership with Oppenheimer Generations Conservation and Research (OGCR). As a think tank committed to inclusive and sustainable development, AWEI’s values include objectivity, critical thinking, independence, innovation, integrity, and transparency.