'I've never seen such an exciting time for faiths & conservation activists'

That was the verdict of Chantal Elkin, Head of the Beliefs & Values Programme at World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), who was speaking during our recent webinar on Partnerships, part of the series on developing Faith Long-Term Plans.

WWF's Beliefs and Values programme is one of the three partners in the Faith Long-term Plans Programme, alongside FaithInvest and INCR.

Moderator Lorna Gold, FaithInvest's Director of Movement Building, was moderating, and began by asking the following questions: ‘We want to think about different types of partners. Who do we want to work with? What is the value of different types of partnerships, from loose network to Eco-twinning?’

If you missed the webinar, you can watch it by clicking below.

‘Communication is key’ – Chantal Elkin

Chantal Elkin, Head of the Beliefs & Values Programme at World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), said: ‘I’ve never seen, in all my 10 plus years of working in the field, such an exciting time for faith groups and conservation activists. There’s a real spirit of openness and creativity. It’s refreshing and full of possibility.'

WWF is one of the longest running partners with faith groups in terms of conservation projects. Chantal said: ‘It’s only with millions more people becoming involved in the environmental movement that we can halt the destruction of the natural world. We must let faith groups take the lead on local action that they feel comfortable with in their communities, but there are many ways that environmental NGOs can help.’

Areas where NGOs can be helpful include: giving direction, advice and guidance, providing technical expertise on skills building and scientific methodologies, and providing educational materials, among others.

Chantal gave the example of how working with Indonesia’s most influential Muslim organisation resulted in them issuing two fatwas to halt the destruction of Indonesian tigers’ natural habitats and stop the illegal wildlife trade. This productive partnership also resulted in WWF providing educational materials to help raise awareness of the fatwas.

Chantal described this as a ‘successful’ campaign due to the harmonious partnership’. The conservation world and the Islamic world were brought together in a way that invited open dialogue to address the biodiversity crisis.

Chantal stressed that ‘communication skills are key’ when it comes to forming successful partnerships: It’s about choosing the right person to communicate with the group that your organisation is partnering with.

In Cambodia, WWF offered technical support and capacity building to Buddhist monks, formed a network of monks across the country leading environmental projects and developed a Buddhist conservation guide book. WWF was instrumental in helping the monks capture best practices and then share them more widely both inside and outside of Cambodia.