Africa Foundation appoints new CEO
Dr. Andrew Venter takes the reins from 1 November 2020
Andrew comes with a wealth of experience in conservation and community development as CEO of the Wildlands Conservation Trust and in sustainability through his long-term role as a Senior Associate of the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL). Andrew has a deep passion and commitment to community-based conservation. He was one of the first South Africans to undertake a PhD in this field. Working with communities around the Kruger National Park, in 1994 and 1995, he helped shape a framework that would evolve into the National Park’s Social Ecology unit. Liaison Fora, that he established as part of this process, including the Lubambiswano and Hlanganani Fora, continue to operate today.
After moving to St Lucia in 1995, Andrew started working with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and the communities around the then Greater St Lucia Wetland Park. During this period, he had the privilege of meeting and working with many of the andBeyond and Africa Foundation pioneers. This time was instrumental in shaping his perspectives on how and why a community-based approach to conservation was critical. The “3-C’s” theory and the Mun-ya-Wana vision are ingrained in his memory, together with his appreciation for the courage shown by those pioneers, at a time when the conservation establishment viewed them as mavericks.
In 2000, he joined the then Wildlands Trust as its first CEO. Wildlands was a small local NGO that had been founded by Dr Ian Player and Nick Steele to support conservation in the erstwhile KwaZulu. In 2004, he facilitated the successful merger of Wildlands and the KZN Conservation Trusts, to establish the Wildlands Conservation Trust, and led the development of this organization into one of South Africa’s largest environmental NPO’s. When he stepped down as CEO at the end of 2019, the Trust had grown to annual funds raised of R160m, employing almost 4 000 “Green” and “Blue” team members that are driving a wide range of terrestrial and marine conservation and sustainable development projects.
Andrew’s CISL involvement has deepened his understanding and appreciation of the sustainability pressures that are shaping human society and our development, including global warming, population growth and resource consumption. Over the past year he dedicated time to working with CISL to develop and implement a new strategy for South Africa and the region. Andrew is also a trustee of the European based Global Nature Fund, whose work has many synergies with that of Africa Foundation.
With Andrew on board, Sheila Surgey who has been performing CEO duties since April 2018 will revert to being a valued Trustee for Africa Foundation.
We are looking forward to beginning this new phase of Africa Foundation’s work under Andrew’s leadership.