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Masters in Conservation Leadership


Project overview

We will prototype the first Conservation ActionLAB, a “war room” type of space for the UCCLAN to come together in times of conservation emergencies and rapidly design effective advocacy campaigns for civic involvement in decision-making. We will exchange knowledge and complete the design of a campaign for a current emergency, the Andean Chocó Biosphere Reserve threatened by mining in Ecuador.


Project aims

Our project aims to respond to a conservation emergency in Ecuador using creativity, innovation, and the collective knowledge of a group of conservation leadership alumni.

We have established three objectives:

  1. To prototype a co-creation space for the UCCLAN to work together and help respond to conservation emergencies around the world.
  2. To design a citizen-led campaign to protect the Andean Chocó Biosphere Reserve from mining.
  3. To implement a portion of the campaign designed by the team.


Key activities

  1. Face to face Co-creation and Knowledge exchange

We will bring together four alumni to co-create the first Conservation ActionLAB, a “war room” type of space for the UCCLAN to come together in times of conservation emergencies and rapidly design effective advocacy campaigns for civic involvement in conservation decision-making around the world.

  1. ActionLABs methodology co-creation

We will systematize the co-creation experience and turn it into a methodology with guidelines and a toolkit for other groups to replicate it anywhere else in the world. Our hope is to lay the foundations and provide necessary resources for other groups to activate a Conservation ActionLAB when needed.

  1. From strategy to action

We will implement a portion of the campaign using audiovisual communications that will include producing and showcasing a series of small videos at community events and distributed widely in social media.


Expected conservation impact

  • By September 2022, the Conservation ActionLabs methodology for advocacy campaigns cocreation is embedded in the UCCLAN strategy and MPhil Programme.
  • By the end of 2022, the Conservation Action Lab methodology will be implemented by other UCCLAN members, to design a civic involvement strategy that addresses a conservation emergency anywhere in the world.
  • By august 2022, the implementation of the portion of the civic involvement campaign raises awareness and creates a critical mass in the MDQ that understands and cares about the Andean Chocó.
  • By September 2022, the Conservation ActionLabs strategy helps citizens of Quito to connect to the Andean Chocó and to better understand the importance of the ecosystem and are ready to take an informed decision in respect to the public consultation on allowing mining in the Biosphere Reserve.  


Expected outputs

  • By the end of February 2022, we will have designed the Conservation ActionLabs guidelines and toolkit and prototyped the first Conservation ActionLab to tackle conservation emergencies. The guidelines and toolkit will be made available for Mphil in CL, UCCLAN members. This methodology will be easy to follow and to implement by a variety of audiences.
  • By the end of February 2022, we will have designed a civic involvement campaign strategy to promote the conservation of the Andean Chocó Biosphere Reserve for the Metropolitan District of Quito citizens.
  • Between April 2022 and June 2022, we will implement a portion of the campaign using audiovisual materials to promote the conservation of the Andean Chocó Biosphere Reserve for the Metropolitan District of Quito citizens.


Project team

Carolina Proaño-Castro (2015-16)

Executive Director Fundación Futuro

Carolina is a purpose-driven sustainability professional with 12+ years of experience in climate change, biodiversity, and sustainable development.

She is convinced that the private sector can and should play a transformative role in society. She promotes pragmatic actions that generate a positive impact on forests, landscapes, businesses, and communities.

Carolina led the design of the Zero Carbon program of Fundación Futuro, which currently allowed financing the private conservation of 2,600 ha of forest in the Andean Chocó in Ecuador and ensuring the neutrality of emissions of the Grupo Futuro companies. As well, she designed and currently leads the implementation of Fundación Futuro's conservation strategy that includes an effective sustainability plan for expanding, connecting, and maintaining two nature reserves hand-in-hand with local communities and the private sector.

Bruno Monteferri (2010-11)

Director of Marine Governance at SPDA (Peruvian Society of Environmental right)

Bruno Monteferri graduated with distinction from the Conservation Leadership MPhil, and went on to found the award-winning Conservamos por Naturaleza Initiative of the Peruvian Society for Environmental Law (SPDA) in 2012. Conservamos por Naturaleza has implemented a series of campaigns and programs to benefit citizen-led conservation in Peru. Current projects include the HAZla por tu Ola campaign, which has gained international media attention for its innovative approach to protecting surf breaks in Peru. He is also leading a campaign to prevent the damming of the Marañón river, source of the Amazon, and a program to protect the catchment basin of the 771m tall Gocta waterfalls in northern Peru. Bruno and his team combine conservation science, environmental law and storytelling to present effective solutions to conservation challenges. Since 2017, Bruno also directs the Marine Governance Initiative, which focuses on working closely with the government and artisanal fishers to foment sustainable fisheries in Peru. Through his strong engagement and protagonistic role in Peru’s conservation world, Bruno is an Ashoka Fellow, former WEF Global Shaper and now a fellow of the Edinburgh Ocean Leaders program.

Lucía Norris (2016-17)

Independent Consultant for Conservation and Sustainable Development

Lucia was awarded a double major in International Relations and Communications (2010) and an MPhil in Conservation Leadership at the University of Cambridge (2016-2017). She worked as a political communications Advisor for the City Council on developing communications strategies and sustainability and gender violence campaigns that were implemented in Quito between 2009 and 2013. At FFLA, she gained technical experience in Sustainable Development and Climate Change while coordinating projects and developing MEL and Communications strategies. In 2014, Lucia started working at WWF as the Public Policies Officer for the Galapagos Programme and later as the M&E Officer for the WWF Ecuador program. In 2018, she worked on a circular economy project for the CoCa Cola bottling company in Ecuador to improve the quality of life of grassroots waste recyclers. From 2019 until July 2021, Lucia was responsible for Jocotoco Foundation in Galapagos, where she established a private reserve for the protection of the highly endangered Galapagos Petrel, and now she works as an independent consultant on sustainability, conservation, and circular economy, especially on what relates to Strategic planning.

Mariano Castro (2018-19)

Legal & Policy Analyst - Latin America, Turtle Restoration Network

Mariano Castro is a Costa Rican lawyer with an L.LLM in public international law from Leiden University in the Netherlands and an M.Phil in conservation leadership from Cambridge University. He has extensive experience providing policy and legal advice to decision makers, private sector and civil society organizations to enhance biodiversity protection, sustainable fisheries and climate change adaptation initiatives in the Latin American region. Mariano is currently the Legal & Policy Analyst in Latin America for Turtle Island Restoration Network, where he supports conservation efforts in the Eastern Tropical Pacific for the protection of endangered species and the consolidation of Marine Protected Areas. He is also a founding member of Wildlife Monitoring Group, the country representative of the organization Human Right 2 Water and auditor for the Sustainable Seafood Certification Program - Marine Stewardship Council as an expert in effective fisheries management. Mariano has broad experience organizing social movements and building coalitions from the protection of endangered species. He also provides legal and policy advice