Strengthening WWF’s Inclusive Conservation in the Congo Basin - Consultancy

Posted on 22 June 2022

LOCATION: Africa Regions



Indigenous People and Local Communities (IPLC) are increasingly recognized as critical partners in achieving sustainable development and conservation outcomes. As part of WWF’s Africa Strategy and our renewed commitment to human rights based approaches to conservation, We are working to strengthen and scale our inclusive conservation activities across Africa. Inclusive Conservation and a Whole-of-Society approach are critical components of WWF’s Africa Strategy and central to WWF’s global future conservation effort.  At WWF, we recognize that catalyzing participation of society as a whole and transformational partnerships - including with CBOs, CSOs, IPLC - is fundamental to achieving our mission in which people and nature live in harmony.


An inclusive, whole-of-society approach is not new to conservation, nor to WWF.  WWF has a long history of working with IPLCs, with multiple examples of good practices across Africa.  These efforts attest to work in offices that are people-centered and engage different conservation actors in society, especially IPLC including women, youth and other custodians of nature. There are also compelling examples of WWF’s ability to convene multiple players and support inclusive platforms and processes for rights holders and stakeholders to identify and agree on a common ground and shared solutions. These experiences provide a solid foundation for strengthening and scaling our work through a process of deliberate reflection and learning. 


The importance of an inclusive approach to conservation was highlighted at the WWF Congo Basin Conservation week held in Cameroon in November 2021.  During the CB Conservation Week a special session on Inclusive Conservation brought together partners from across the network to highlight our work and agree on priority actions moving forward.  This session clearly highlighted the need for WWF to better define what it means by Inclusive Conservation, why it is important, how and where we should implement it and how it contributes to our overall strategies. This TOR has been developed in response to that need - to help WWF define what Inclusive Conservation is in the Congo Basin, to understand what it is doing, where and how, as a foundation for developing clear guidelines, consolidating lessons, and strengthening our approach to inclusive conservation in the region.


A critical element of inclusive conservation is the rebalancing of powers and helping to resolve the inequities that are at the root cause of most of the environmental decline. Questions we wish to ask are: What has WWF done and how can we move forward on this? What lessons can we learn from our challenges and successes, and how might we strengthen our programmes and approach through targeted investment, capacity building, adaptive management and innovation for transformational impact at scale? 


The Congo Basin - The Proposal


Learning from and strengthening our approach to inclusive conservation is particularly important in the Congo Basin where WWF has faced criticism from external stakeholders despite a long history of working inclusively with IPLCs and others in the region.  The Congo basin is a priority geography for WWF in Africa and globally recognized for its importance as a refuge for endangered biodiversity, a critical global carbon sink, and home to a diversity of cultures and communities. 


Now is the time for WWF to strengthen and scale its inclusive conservation efforts in line with our commitments to human rights based approaches and social safeguards.  And the renewed global interest in equitable, inclusive and just solutions to the triple challenges of biodiversity loss, climate change, and sustainable development. Strengthening inclusion and equitability is critical to addressing the policy, demographic, and economic challenges across the region, including the recognition of the right of Participation, Governance and Use of Natural Resources by Indigenous and Local Populations in Africa


This consultancy on Inclusive Conservation will review WWF’s existing work in the Congo Basin including drawing from experiences on the ground and identify those key areas where an inclusive conservation approach has been taken.  Specifically it will:

  • Define Inclusive Conservation in the Congo Basin context
  • Highlight critical components, impacts to date, challenges and lessons learned, 
  • Identify opportunities for strengthening implementation, prioritizing investment and scaling impact,
  • Map inclusive conservation efforts by partners and other stakeholders in the Congo Basin,
  • Strengthen our strategies at national, landscape, and regional level, 
  • Strengthen the associated resource mobilization and investment plans - including the upcoming Biodiverse Landscape Funds proposal Inform WWF’s global efforts on Future Conservation and Inclusive Conservation.

Geographic Scope


This assessment will be conducted across the following countries where WWF has active interventions: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Gabon, Republic of Congo, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  The assessment will include deep dives in the following priority landscapes -  Tri-national de la Sangha (TNS), Tri-National Dja-Odzala-Minkébé (TRIDOM), and Salonga.




The overall aim of this work is to strengthen WWF’s inclusive conservation work in the Congo Basin to improve programme design, development, implementation, learning, and impact at scale - through mapping, characterizing, and understanding WWF’s work on inclusive conservation to date and how to best strengthen it in the region - and contribute to the delivery of the Africa Strategy. 


The specific objectives of this study are:

  1. Provide an overview of WWF experiences in IC in the Congo Basin, showing original objectives, work done, outcomes and lessons learned;
  2. Analyze these lessons learned to find recurring themes and compare with Best in Class examples of IC, both in and outside of WWF;
  3. Propose the key elements to a successful inclusive conservation approach of WWF in the Congo Basin;
  4. Highlight potential partnerships to strengthen the WWF approach to IC in the Congo Basin.

Critical questions to be reviewed include:

  1. What, where and how are we doing inclusive conservation in the Congo Basin? 
  2. Why do we do Inclusive Conservation and how are we defining inclusive conservation in these different contexts (e.g. countries and landscapes)? 
  3. To what extent is inclusive conservation a means or an end in itself for WWF?  How does that affect the way we practice conservation in the Congo Basin?
  4. What are the key elements to an inclusive conservation approach?
  5. What are the internal and external conditions that enable or disable conservation to be inclusive?  
  6. What is the existing policy environment across the Congo Basin and at individual country level?
  7. What examples or case studies do we have in the Congo Basin? What is common and what is different (and why), across countries and landscapes? 
  8. What examples of inclusive conservation do we have in the region that WWF can learn from?
  9. To what degree are we “doing’ inclusive conservation - what do our partners and the people we seek to include think? Do they feel included in our programmes? To what extent?  Are our definitions of inclusive conservation aligned?
  10. What relevant partners/partnerships do we have concerning inclusive conservation? What do our partners/stakeholders think of these partnerships?  Are we listening, are we hearing? Are we missing any key partners that would help us better achieve improved inclusive conservation?
  11. What are the key enabling factors and critical leverage points?  Existing and emerging opportunities for strengthening and expanding our inclusive conservation work?
  12. To what extent is there a common approach to inclusive conservation in our conservation programmes? Can it be modeled?
  13. What technical expertise and/or dedicated capacity is there within the WWF offices to lead on inclusive conservation approaches? And therefore what are the major capacity gaps within WWF within the region?
  14. To what degree is inclusive conservation mainstreamed in WWF offices and programmes in the Congo Basin?
  15. How are offices financed/resourced to implement inclusive conservation? What resourcing models are there that would best support colleagues to be empowered to implement inclusive conservation?

To achieve this we are proposing to use a consultant led participatory and integrated approach, including (but not limited to) the following activities:

  1. Desktop review of internal WWF documents and reports, published, gray literature and online resources
  2. Interviews and focus group activities with WWF staff, external partners, and key stakeholders (including social and human rights organizations)
  3. Review of existing policy environment
  4. Mapping of relevant WWF activities and engagements, partners and impacts
  5. Development of a baseline and database of what we are doing in Inclusive Conservation and where
  6. Mapping of existing technical expertise and capacity to lead on inclusive conservation within WWF offices in the region and identification of key capacity gaps. 
  7. Identification of opportunities to expand and strengthen engagement - critical leverage points, as well as existing mainstreaming of Inclusive Conservation.
  8. Development of case-studies highlighting the successes, challenges, opportunities, and lessons learned.
  9. Development of a common approach or model for Inclusive Conservation to guide programme development and implementation at local, landscape, national, and regional scales.


1) Inception Report and timeline of activities.
2) Database of inclusive conservation activities across our conservation work in the Congo Basin
Final Report, including:
  1. Typology of engagement approaches and activities
  2. Components of Inclusive Conservation in Congo Basin
  3. Critical lessons learned
  4. Case studies
  5. Opportunities to strengthen our work
  6. Investment priorities
3) Draft strategy for inclusive conservation in Congo Basin - including priority investment opportunities, key partners, capacity and resource needs.



The activities highlighted above will be conducted between June 2022 and September 2022.


Required skills and experience:

  • Experience working on inclusive conservation issues in the Congo Basin, including:
  • Experience working on natural resource management and conservation with indigenous people and local communities
  • Experience with livelihoods, community engagement, and CBNRM 
  • Experience with human rights based approaches and environmental and social safeguards
  • Demonstrable experience and skills in survey design and implementation and research
  • Excellent data collection and analysis skills
  • Experience in conducting interviews and qualitative research
  • Ability to consolidate and communicate complex information
  • Strong writing and presentation skills. 
  • Excellent English and French, language skills (both written and oral)


Interested parties should submit a proposal, including their interpretation of the TORs, details on their proposed approach and activities, relevant experience, team composition and roles, CVs of team members, availability, and an indicative workplan and budget to by 06 July 2022.