The Institute

The African Wildlife Economy Institute (AWEI) at Stellenbosch University is a multidisciplinary think tank for impactful research, engagement, and capacity building. Founded in 2018, the Institute became fully operational in mid-2021 through a partnership with Oppenheimer Generations Conservation and Research. As a think tank committed to inclusive and sustainable development, AWEI’s values include objectivity, critical thinking, independence, innovation, integrity, and transparency.

What is a wildlife economy?

Wildlife includes undomesticated terrestrial and marine animals, plants, fungi, and other life forms, as well as their abiotic and biotic interactions. Wildlife is linked to natural habitats and ecosystems.

An economy is the set of human interactions that produce, trade, and consume goods and services. Natural resources, including wildlife, are key factors for the production of many goods and services such as food and tourism.

A wildlife economy is based using wild species a to produce goods and services for human benefit.

At AWEI, we focus on the wildlife economy across Africa including the continent, the continental shelf, and adjacent islands. Politically, Africa includes the member states of the African Union.

Our vision

AWEI envisions transformed, enhanced, and maintained African landscapes – i.e., complex systems that deliver biodiversity conservation, climate resilience, inclusive economic opportunities, and community well-being. We aim to contribute to this vision through promoting an inclusive, diversified, and flourishing wildlife economy across the continent.

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

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.

Further, we see the wildlife economy as a means to implement the Global Biodiversity Framework adopted in December 2022 at the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity. In this regard, AWEI aims to explicitly contribute to the following GoalB  and Targets 5 and 9:

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…

Our strategy

To achieve our vision, AWEI undertakes activities to:

  • Strengthen the enabling environment
  • Promote thriving wildlife enterprise

We do this through activities that:

  • Generate knowledge 
  • Engage stakeholders
  • Develop capacity

Annual Reports