Stefano Zenobi | WWF

About me

My name is Stefano. I am from Italy and after I finished my Master in Economics and Social Sciences, with major in Environmental Economics I started to look for opportunities in my area of study. I found a wonderful one in Laos with the Young International Volunteer programme of WWF.
In Laos, I worked as Monitoring and Evaluation volunteer for six months supporting the country office in understanding the impact of the programme and in managing the knowledge capital. It was an amazing experience during which I learned from experts in different fields and I touched with hands the culture and nature of Laos.

Understanding the story of the Eld’s Deer conservation project

Because of the peculiar geography of the country, which landlocked in South East Asia right below the Tibetan plateau and its rivers basin, WWF Laos is mostly active in conserving Forest and Freshwater and the species inhabiting them. As Monitoring and Evaluation volunteer I worked closely with most of the project managers of the office, on diverse practices.  However, I particularly enjoyed working together with Phaivieng, Eld’s Deer conservation project manager. Eventaully, we became great friends.
The Eld’s Deer conservation project is located in Savannakhet province in the central part of Laos and Phaivieng is working with local communities to reduce poaching and land use conversion. Thanks to the creation of a village patrolling team and to the definition of well-done Integrated Spatial Development Plans, the project has been able to increase the number of Eld’s Deer in the Wildlife Sanctuary from 6 to 20 individuals in 2008 to 100+ individuals in 2016. Though, it may sound a simple project it has been very difficult to capture the complexity behind all the work that has been done in more than 8 years. My role was exactly that; capturing the complexity of the project so that it could be communicated to policy makers, donors and of course everybody else.

Improving the information management system

Monitoring and Evaluation does not only focus on the conservation side of WWF activities but also on the operational one. Operations are important as they ensure accountability and efficiency, allowing to achieve more impact on the ground. During my volunteering months, I was able to apply my expertise I gained from my previous working experience to WWF context. As all the organizations, WWF have to manage a huge amount of information and data which is very likely to be useful in the future; for example, for developing new components of the conservation activities. My role was to support the implementation of the information management system of the office. Doing so, I had to work on tools for knowledge and data management and look for the ways to improve them. Information management is at the core of organizational growth since it allows expertise and knowledge to be ready for the future and to never forget what has been learnt in the past.