Community engagement through PARTNERS Principles recognized as outstanding global conservation practice

100+ Biodiversity Positive Practices and Actions Campaign, 15th Meeting of the CoP to the Convention of Biological Diversity, Kunming China

Snow Leopard Trust
Media Contact: Beth Stewart
+1 (206) 632-2421


Seattle, WA | October 4, 2021 

The 15th meeting of the Conference of Parties (CoP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity, ratified by 196 nations, is set to take place this month in Kunming, China (Oct 11-15th 2021). In the buildup to this important meeting, the NGO CoP15 Forum, as part of its – 100+ Biodiversity Positive Practices and Actions Campaign – gave explicit recognition to 22 conservation practices, including The International Snow Leopard Trust’s PARTNERS Principles for community-based conservation, as being “Outstanding”.    

image courtesy of COP15 NGO Forum

The campaign sought to highlight effective biodiversity conservation practices and recognize the commitment of non-governmental organizations to conserve biodiversity. The campaign committee, comprising China’s Environmental Protection Foundation, Paradise International Foundation, Shanshui Conservation Centre, the Global Environmental Institute, the Executive Committee for the Preparation of CoP15 and the CBD Secretariat received 258 submissions from 196 organizations worldwide, of which 122 were selected as “Noteworthy Practices”, and 22 – including PARTNERS Principles – were noted as “Outstanding”. The practices were scrutinized by experts in various fields and evaluated based on ecological value, social impact and benefit, innovation, promotion and sustainability and presentation. 

image courtesy of COP15 NGO Forum

“This recognition reflects the importance of local communities as key actors in biodiversity conservation, and of the PARTNERS Principles training program. So far, over 250 conservation practitioners from 18 countries have been trained as part of this ongoing effort, who are shifting the way conservation is perceived and carried out, towards a more inclusive and respectful model of engaging communities” says Dr. Justine Shanti Alexander, Senior Conservation Scientist at Snow Leopard Trust (SLT) and Executive Director of Snow Leopard Network. Dr. Alexander has been an active member of the PARTNERS training team. 

PARTNERS Principles is a training program developed by Snow Leopard Trust to promote effective and respectful community-engagement for conservation. These principles (Presence, Aptness, Respect, Transparency, Negotiation, Empathy, Responsiveness, and Strategic support) provide a strategic toolkit for conservationists working anywhere in the world, to engage with local communities in an ethical and inclusive way. The PARTNERS Principles were distilled from two decades of conservation experience, and from ideas in applied ecology, conservation and natural resource management, community health, social psychology, rural development, negotiation theory and ethics. Snow Leopard Trust teams use this approach when working with over 50 local communities who are protecting c.150,000 sq. km of snow leopard habitat in Asia.

Ajay Bijoor – a grassroots conservationist at India’s Nature Conservation Foundation and Assistant Director of SLT’s India Program – who began as a PARTNERS Principles trainee and now leads the training program with Dr. Alexander says, “As one of the initial trainees, the PARTNERS principles provided me with a systematic approach to thinking about the practical challenges faced while working with communities and the possible paths forward. Subsequently as a trainer, I have had the opportunity to interact with several grassroot practitioners and I find the principles resonate equally with most of them. The challenge lies in applying the principles effectively.”

Resources and toolkits created under the PARTNERS approach are freely available to interested conservationists around the world. To learn more about PARTNERS Principles or participate in the training program, please visit the website HERE or contact Beth Stewart for more information.

The PARTNERS Principles book was commissioned by the Acacia Conservation Fund. The training program was created with support from the Darwin Initiative and is being offered with support from the Melkus Family Foundation. Training workshops and manuals have been developed and piloted with support from GEF and UNDP, and coordinated by the GSLEP Secretariat. The Whitley Fund for Nature has supported a considerable amount of the community-engagement work that led to this initiative.

Snow Leopard Trust is a 501c-3 Seattle-based non-profit organization with operations throughout Central and South Asia. Snow Leopard Trust aims to protect the endangered snow leopard through community-based conservation projects that are centered on an improved scientific understanding of snow leopard behavior, needs, habitats and threats.

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