Alumni Innovation Fund

The Alumni Innovation Fund encourages our members to work together, and with their global networks of colleagues and organisations, to apply their newly-acquired knowledge and skills in collaborative initiatives of shared learning, convening and progressive thinking and action. An important goal of the Fund is to enhance cross-learning among academics and practitioners in the field, bringing science, policy and practice together. 

We are currently actively fundraising to replenish the fund in order to support future collaborations around GEN alumni. Below are some of the projects previously supported by this fund. If you would like to know more about these projects, please write to us


PineappleFuture Farmers, Owerri, Nigeria: Establishing a Community-Run Training Farm at Amiri Community Girls Secondary School

Nigerian activist and radio-DJ Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu returned to his organisation, The Smallholders Foundation, with a powerful ally, international lawyer Marie Wilke, and a project grant from the Alumni Innovation Fund. Nnamaeka and Marie’s project supported students to help establish a community-run pineapple and catfish farm at the Amiri Community Girl’s Secondary School. Students engage in the day-to-day activities of the training farm and are further empowered to establish their own, small agri-business upon graduation by the micro-credit schemes funded from the farm revenues.


KanekuraWellbeing Initiative

Kaylena Bray, Vanessa Reid and Yuki Yoshida launched a project to connect initiatives that take socio-ecological wellbeing as a central tenet of their development. Beginning with those initiatives that focus on food sovereignty, the alums collaborated with resource people Susannah McCandless and Emily Caruso to build a set of case studies on these grassroots wellbeing-centred initiatives, establish an online platform through which to share them, and draft a synthesis of concepts and lessons learned. Case studies are currently being developed in countries most accessible to the team (India, Italy, Japan, UK, USA), with the hope for greater expansion through the creation of a network of interested organisations. Look out for the new web platform!



Collaborative Participant Observation at the Second Meeting of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES-2), Antalya, Turkey.

Daniel Suarez and Katja Heubach joined forces in studying the conceptual framework of ecosystem services, central to the current discourse amongst conservationists. This was to learn about its evolution and identify issues of concern as well as opportunities for practitioners – particularly those active in the Global Environments Network – to intervene in the process. At IPBES-2, they carried out a collaborative event ethnography of the meeting itself, leveraging their respective backgrounds and connection through the Global Environments Summer Academy to bolster each other’s research objectives and generate new understandings through information-sharing, structured interactions over the course of the conference, and the preparation of written outputs. They also planned to develop protocols for future event-based GESA alum collaborations at other international environmental fora. Read a blog post by Katja on the experience.


Grabbing Green ConferenceGrabbing Green Conference, Toronto: Panel: “Ecological Imperialism and its many faces: new insights into the global green grab”

In May 2013, GESA 2012 alums Manoj Misra, Kasim Tirmizey, Rishi Bastakoti and resource person Susannah McCandless collaborated to host a panel at the “Grabbing Green: Questioning the Green Economy” Conference hosted by the University of Toronto, May 17-19 2013. The panel examined the global green grab – the large scale appropriation of lands and resources to environmental ends – through the dual lens of ecological imperialism and ‘accumulation by dispossession’. The GESA alumni’s diverse geographical foci and multi-disciplinary approach provided for a compelling panel discussion, which explored possibilities of community resistance in the context of neoliberalism and the roles of policy and advocacy in supporting community aspirations.


Tekguc_131017_0220_LNorth American Community Environmental Leadership Exchange – In October 2013, Darcie Houck, Kaylena Bray, Inanc Tekguc and resource persons Susannah McCandless  and Octaviana Trujillo met in California to co-organise the North American Community Environmental Leadership Exchange (NACELE), a workshop jointly led by Global Diversity Foundation and The Cultural Conservancy under the auspices of the Global Environments Network. NACELE also received support from a Switzer Foundation Innovation Grant, The Christensen Fund, and Bioneers. The workshop convened dynamic Indigenous leaders from around North America to share their work and their communities’ ongoing actions to protect and restore lands, waters and traditional foodways, and through these, culture and sovereignty. The results of the 4-day workshop were presented at a participant-led panel, “From Conflict to Collaboration: Tribal Strategies for Resistance and Restoration” at the Indigenous Forum of the 2013 Bioneers meeting. Read about NACELE 2013.


Policy Return of GESA Alumni to GESA 2012/2013

GESA 2012 and 2013 enjoyed the return of several alums as Resource Persons. Contributions have been highly successful and appreciated by organizers and participants alike – we hope to continue welcoming them back! Aysen Eren (2011) led participants in GESA 2012 in learning environmental games that encourage a connection with nature. Girma Kelburo Mensuro (2012) drew on his expertise to facilitate a GESA 2013 roundtable on the stewardship of agro-pastoral landscapes. Inanc Tekguc (2011) engaged his leadership and audiovisual skills to document subsequent GESA activities and guide participants through the Communications Workshop at GESA 2012 and 2013. Marie Wilke (2012) returned to lead an exciting three-part Advocacy, Law and Policy Workshop at GESA 2013.

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