As we compose this letter, the first rains have begun to fall in northern Kenya, bringing renewed hope to a region that has suffered through six consecutive failed rainy seasons. However, restoring and securing the livelihoods of the people in these regions and strengthening environmental stewardship requires more than just mitigating climate change or providing humanitarian aid. It requires a shared vision among local communities and other stakeholders in these biodiversity-rich yet vulnerable landscapes to facilitate coexistence between people, livestock, and wildlife. It also requires the initiation of systemic transformations in the use of land, conflict resolution, income generation, and the establishment of social cohesion and resilience.
Over the past year, the Wyss Academy has begun to execute its strategy for 2022-2024, designed to support such initiatives as mentioned above in four regional hubs across the globe. We believe that the conservation of nature and human wellbeing can support one another, and our mission is to break down the silos between science, policy, and practice to devise innovative solutions for the most challenging sustainability issues. In 2022, we made significant progress toward achieving each of our three primary strategic goals and further refined our niche and the added value we can provide to our partners and ongoing initiatives.
Our first goal is to demonstrate concrete pathways toward mutual benefits between nature and people. We have established seven living labs across four regions worldwide. In these so-called solutionscapes, we test innovations such as youth-led restoration and combined wildlife and livestock corridors in Kenya. We promote the diversification of local people’s revenue sources near protected areas in Madagascar through beekeeping, agroforestry, or handicrafts. We enhance the value of Peru’s standing forests through innovative value chains for Amazon nut and test the energy transition in the Swiss tourism sector. The Wyss Academy’s niche extends beyond testing such incubators to triggering systemic feedback loops between these interventions to expedite the transition toward a shared and evidence-based vision.
Our second goal aims to inspire a new social contract with nature across various levels to support the development and scaling out of innovative pathways. Over the past year, our four Research & Innovation teams have become fully operational, and we are proud that they jointly explore opportunities for co-benefits between nature and people in the fields of agroecology, carbon and biodiversity credits, indigenous governance systems, and the management of water and mining resources. Through our units Global Policy Outreach and the Synthesis Center, we have started to connect the Wyss Academy with various stakeholders, including the 485 youth representatives who participated in the changemaker program across our four hubs and the 220 stakeholders from science, policy, and practice who participated in the first Wyss Academy Symposium in Bern.
Our third goal is to establish the Wyss Academy as a global enabler of innovation, building a credible and highly functional institution for the long term. While our management team has worked hard to recruit and onboard staff for the Research & Innovation teams as well as for the regional hubs, we have also invested in building a culture that is based on our core values and enables us to progress as one team, to put the Wyss Academy and all its units at the service of concrete innovations and impacts on the ground.
We want to take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude to our hardworking staff, who have dedicated themselves tirelessly throughout the year to achieve our vision. You have accomplished so much! We would also like to thank all of our stakeholders who have supported us, especially our Board and our funders. We are grateful to our Advisory Committee, who provided invaluable advice and guidance. We appreciate all who share our mission and enthusiasm, and we count on you to stay connected with us.
Prof. Dr. Peter Messerli
Prof. Dr. Christian Leumann
President of the Board