$10m endowment will secure the future of world leading environment conservation initiative at University of Cambridge

26 Sep 2017

Thanks to a $10 million endowment from Arcadia, the charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, a world-leading initiative in Cambridge is now developing unique new approaches to some of the biggest challenges facing the planet today. 

As life on earth comes under pressure as never before, with threats including habitat destruction, pollution, invasion by alien species and climate change, a complex, multifaceted response that transcends disciplines, organisations and borders is critical to the protection of the planet’s diversity. The future of humanity is also dependent on the living resources that we share this planet with, which provide many fundamental services such as oxygen, clean water and food.

The Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI) is a collaboration between 10 institutions, working together to address the most pressing issues facing our natural world. Cambridge is a natural home for this endeavour; in addition to the world-class research by University of Cambridge academics, the city is home to the largest cluster of conservation organisations in the world. These range from local, grassroots organisations through to long-established, international charities, as well as representatives of the United Nations, national government agencies, and intergovernmental secretariats. CCI bring these diverse networks together in new and innovative ways, generating novel ideas and approaches that no one institution could deliver alone. 

Two years ago CCI moved into a specially-created conservation campus within the David Attenborough Building, in the centre of Cambridge, which provides a unique collaborative hub in which CCI can integrate research, policy development and capacity building. Sir David Attenborough, after whom the building housing the CCI Conservation Campus is named, said: “I am delighted to see the work that the Cambridge Conservation Initiative is doing – it is clear to me that the most effective solutions to protecting nature are achieved by collaboration, which is exemplified by CCI’s vision and ethos. By making this gift, Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin are investing to protect our planet’s life support system and providing an incredible legacy for the natural world.”

CCI’s Executive Director, Dr Mike Rands, confirmed that the endowment would provide the financial security to enable CCI to focus on scaling up its collaborations and engaging others, especially in business, governments and civil society, in the conservation of nature. “Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, through Arcadia, have been incredible partners to CCI. Their investment in the core of this Initiative is both brave and brilliant; brave because it is supporting a completely new approach to the conservation of biodiversity and brilliant because it adds value to worldwide conservation efforts by uniting the critical mass of skills and expertise that exists amongst CCI partners to work collaboratively and beyond organisational boundaries.”

By endowing the Cambridge Conservation Initiative, Arcadia are ensuring CCI’s future financial stability. In announcing the Arcadia grant, Lisbet Rausing referred to the unique nature of CCI and its potential, saying “CCI brings together leading academics and conservation practitioners to focus on the greatest problems facing our planet. We hope our grant will help these experts find new ways to protect nature and biodiversity.”

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, said: “Arcadia’s investment in this unique Initiative will ensure that Cambridge sustains a long term leadership role in conservation research, teaching and practice that will have a global impact. CCI is a great example of the benefits that can be achieved by bringing together practitioners and academia”.

Read an interview with David Attenborough by the Guardian, discussing the threat of plastics to marine life, and the role CCI plays in encouraging the cross-fertilisation of knowledge and providing hope for the future.