As life on earth comes under pressure as never before, a complex, multifaceted response that transcends disciplines and organisations is critical to the protection of the planet’s diversity. Through the Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI), 10 institutions including Fauna & Flora International (FFI) are showing how we can do precisely that, working together to combine strengths and tackle some of the most pressing threats to our planet.

Cambridge, UK, is a natural home for this endeavour. In addition to world-class research by University of Cambridge academics, the city is home to the largest cluster of conservation organisations in the world.

These range from local, grassroots organisations through to long-established, international charities, as well as representatives of the United Nations, national government agencies, and intergovernmental secretariats.

CCI brings these diverse networks together in new and innovative ways, generating novel ideas and approaches that no one institution could deliver alone.

Two years ago, over 500 conservation professionals moved into the David Attenborough Building, in the centre of Cambridge, which provides a unique collaborative hub where CCI organisations can integrate research, policy development and capacity building.

This new grant from Arcadia provides the financial security to enable CCI and its partner organisations to focus on scaling up its collaborations and engaging others – especially in business, government and civil society – in the conservation of nature.

In announcing the Arcadia grant, Lisbet Rausing referred to the unique nature of CCI and its potential, saying, “CCI brings together leading academics and conservation practitioners to focus on the greatest problems facing our planet. We hope our grant will help these experts find new ways to protect nature and biodiversity.”

FFI’s vice-president, Sir David Attenborough, after whom the building is named, said: “I am delighted to see the work that the Cambridge Conservation Initiative is doing – it is clear to me that the most effective solutions to protecting nature are achieved by collaboration, which is exemplified by CCI’s vision and ethos. By making this gift, Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin are investing to protect our planet’s life support system and providing an incredible legacy for the natural world.”

FFI Chief Executive Mark Rose added, “We have been working with Arcadia for many years to protect some of our planet’s most threatened species and ecosystems, and without their visionary approach to funding conservation initiatives we would surely not have achieved some of our most critical conservation success stories. Lisbet and Peter, through Arcadia have always had an instinctual understanding that in order to see long-term success, it is important to invest not only in projects but also in the organisational infrastructure that underpins these successes. I am therefore delighted, but not entirely surprised, that they have chosen to support CCI in this way: it is a testament to their astute approach to conservation.”

Cover photo – the living wall in the David Attenborough Building