Caring for the Environment is a Deadly Serious Business.
Man has not historically paid much heed to the damage and effects of severe exploitation and wasteful consumption of the earth’s resources together with rampant population growth. Today a new urgency has arisen to ensure that this earth and its inhabitants increasingly move toward sustainable practices and behaviour which recognise the link between planet/ people/ profit. Determining your organisation’s strategy around its sustainability and success in this new context is vital for any organisation. It’s a rapidly changing world! Be ahead with sound strategy.
In 2002 i was invited to join the Board of WESSA (Wildlife and Environment Society of SA) one of the largest and oldest membership-based organizations of its kind in Africa. I held the position of Vice Chair from 2004 - 2009 and as National Chairman from 2009 until 2016. I was the recipient of two Awards from the National Association of Conservancies/Stewardship of South Africa (NACSSA) for my work in the conservation of biodiversity and landscapes in South Africa. I was subsequently made a Patron of NACSSA. My specific role upon arriving in 2002 on the WESSA Board was to drive the development of a new strategy for sustainable growth – I facilitated and drove the major shift required for this strategy to the point where I was able to report in my 2015 Chairman’s Report, despite the international and local economic crisis which has gripped the country since 2008: “The large projects we have secured are clearly based on the trust that the funders have in WESSA. Group General Funds have risen (rounded to the closest million) from R 18m in 2005 to R 46m in 2015 (155% increase), and Group Specific Funds from R 11m to R 61m (454% increase). I believe the figures tell a strong story for themselves.” I hold three awards from WESSA for my contribution in caring for the earth.
Leading an organisation which is made up of a strong professional staff as well as a large volunteer component of many thousands of members requires creating, communicating and securing buy-in to a strategy and leadership which develops affinity between all and allows for alignment throughout the many layers of people involved. It also demands very clear progress and levels of achievement to retain the support of both groups. Sustainable development is at the heart of the strategy.
Assisting in strategic thinking and strategy formulation within organisations dedicated to social entrepreneurship, philanthropy and the environmental sustainability are areas I find particularly challenging but equally rewarding.
'GAUTENG – REGIONAL CENTRE OF EXPERTISE' OFFICIALLY ACKNOWLEDGED BY THE UNITED NATIONS UNIVERSITY
RICHARD LEWIS APPOINTED AS FIRST AMBASSADOR OF
THE WILDLIFE AND ENVIRONMENT SOCIETY OF SOUTH AFRICA (WESSA)