[Interview] Michael O’Brien-Onyeka, Senior VP, Conservation International Organization, Kenya
British-Nigerian Michael O’Brien-Onyeka is Senior Vice President - Africa, of Conservation International, a non-governmental conservation and sustainable development organization.
Could you introduce your company to us?
Conservation International (CI) is a non-governmental conservation and sustainable development organization, focused on ensuring a healthy, prosperous world in which societies are forever committed to caring for and valuing nature, for the long-term benefit of people and all life on Earth. With the guiding principle that nature doesn't need people, but people need nature for food, water, health, and livelihoods, the organization works with more than 1000 partners around the world, to improve human well-being through the care of nature – ensuring a healthy, more prosperous planet that supports the well-being of people.
Where Conservation International located?
The Africa Regional Office is at 2nd Floor Suite 2, Spring Court, Watermark Business Park, Ndege Road, Karen P.O. Box 1963 – 00502, Nairobi, KENYA.
How is the company funded?
CI is funded through individual, corporate, foundations, and multi-lateral funding pools. The organization is run by an international Executive Leadership Team that reports to an International Executive Board of Directors.
What are Conservation International’s Unique Selling Points?
For nearly 30 years, Conservation International (CI) has been protecting nature for the benefit of all. We know that human beings are totally dependent on nature, and that by saving nature we’re saving ourselves. To that end, CI is helping to build a healthier, more prosperous and more productive planet. We do this through science, policy, and partnerships with countries, communities and companies. We employ more than 1,000 people and work with more than 2,000 partners in 30 countries. Over the years, CI has helped support 1,200 protected areas and interventions across 77 countries, safeguarding more than 601 million hectares of land, marine and coastal areas.
CI has worked in sub-Saharan Africa since 1990 and has protected 570,000 square kilometers (220,000 square miles). Across the region, CI is engaging African leaders, empowering local communities and helping to evaluate the true value of the region’s natural resources.
Who are your clients?
CI works with private entities (supporting them with moving towards sustainable production and value chains), governments (supporting them with apt policy guidance, data, and M&E capacity), and organized civil society, including indegenous groups (supporting viable on-the-ground and community-owned projects. 30% of CI’s $150m annual budget goes to supporting local and national organizations).
What are the ambitions of Conservation International?
CI country operates in over 30 countries around the world. In Africa, the organization covers the continent from five country offices and through over a 1000 local partners, providing reach into about 20 countries in Africa. The ambition is to increase both partnership and country office numbers to 2000 and 10 respectively, by 2020.
Who should contact Conservation International, and why?
People need nature in order to thrive, and nowhere is that more evident than in Africa. The continent’s population and economies are growing, but often at the cost of its “natural capital” — that is, the forests, fresh water, soil and wildlife that its people rely on. Africa is at a tipping point.
CI is able and willing to work with anyone and everyone who believes that Africa’s key reservoirs of nature must be conserved for the benefit of people and nature; that Africa’s development and growth can be done in consonance with nature, and not against it; and that another Africa is possible, where humans live in harmony with nature and where key ecosystems are restored and maintained to provide water, food, and climate change resilience for sustainable economic development and long-term benefit for people and nature.
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