German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation Klaus Toepfer Fellowship Programme

Publish Date: Jun 18, 2015

Deadline: Jun 30, 2015

The Klaus Toepfer Fellowship Programme for Future Leaders in Nature Conservation from the Countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia aims at developing the personal capacity of early-career conservation professionals with leadership potential, to contribute to overcoming global biodiversity loss and to strengthen the regional capacities to implement multilateral environmental agreements. 

Participants are trained on international best conservation practice and policy, management skills and personal network development, in order to enable them to work effectively in leading positions in the biodiversity conservation sector of their home countries, and to be actively involved in international conservation processes and networks. As an essential part of the programme, participants will develop a transfer project that uses the acquired knowledge to find innovative solutions to a specific challenge within their home institution. Through sharing comprehensive nature conservation experience and knowledge, the fellowship programme seeks to deepen the relationship among the participants and their home countries, as well as with Germany and the European Union.

The Klaus Toepfer Fellowship Programme is financed by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety with means of the Advisory Assistance Programme for Environmental Protection in the Countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. The Advisory Assistance Programme was launched in 2000 as an instrument for knowledge transfer to support the countries in the target region to introduce ambitious environmental standards. Advisory services in the field of nature protection include building capacities of environmental administrations, supporting non-governmental organisations and contributing to cross-border cooperation. All of these aspects are also addressed by the Klaus Toepfer Fellowship Programme.

Programme structure

The upcoming 15-month course will consist of four ten-day extra-occupational training modules at the International Academy for Nature Conservation on the Isle of Vilm, Germany.

Each module includes eight days of on-site training and a two-day excursion to leading nature conservation institutions and sites based in Germany. Training language is English.The modules combine joint learning on key conservation topics with management and leadership training:

  • Module 1 "Informing Conservation": Types and distribution of biodiversity, trends, causes and root causes of biodiversity loss, conservation rationales, evaluating and monitoring biodiversity; information management and communication for biodiversity conservation, strategic conservation planning and adaptive management (November 5 – 17, 2015)
  • Module 2 "Conservation Economics and Financing": Ecological economics, TEEB, resource mobilization and sustainable financing of conservation measures; fundraising, proposal and technical writing (April 6 – 17, 2016)
  • Module 3 "Conservation Management in a Spatial Context": Conservation management in protected areas and beyond, integrated land use planning, ecological networks; engaging stakeholders and building collaborative partnerships, leadership skills (August 29 – September 9, 2016)
  • Module 4 "Conservation Governance and Policy": Decision making processes and structures relevant to conservation at the local, national and international level, user-based approaches to resource conservation; negotiation skills, lobbying and advocacy (January 16 – 28, 2017)

In order to guide the learning process, participants will also formulate their own plans for their professional development during the course.

As part of the programme, participants will develop a transfer project with relevance to the work of their home institution. The transfer project, once implemented, is expected to improve the effectiveness of their organisation or project. It should address a technical or management challenge that the home institution is facing and suggest solutions or innovative ways how to overcome this. Participants will receive assistance and technical input by trainers and mentors throughout the entire elaboration process.

At the end of each module, participants will complete tests on selected conservation and management topics. During intervals between the modules, participants will be expected to work on their transfer projects and fulfil additional assignments such as e-learning units and work on case studies. The work on transfer projects and additional assignments will require approximately 110 hours of work by participants in between the modules.

Costs & organisational issues

Participation in the Klaus Toepfer Fellowship Programme is free of charge. The participants will receive free accommodation and boarding at the training venue and during excursions, as well as a contribution towards their travel expenses. Health insurance during stays in Germany and visa application fees will also be covered by the organisers.

The proportion of travel expenses to be covered by participants or their home organizations is based on the following scheme, which relates to the gross domestic product of the respective countries:

Country Group A

Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia

Country Group B

Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Turkey, Turkmenistan

Country Group C

Albania, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, FYR Macedonia, Georgia, Kosovo, Moldova, Ukraine, Uzbekistan

Country Group D

Tajikistan, Kyrgyz Republic

Table: Travel costs to be covered by the participants of the Klaus Toepfer Fellowship Programme or their organizations

Modules Country Group A Country Group B Country Group C Country Group D
Module 1 200,00€ 100,00€ 40,00€ 20,00€
Module 2 200,00€ 100,00€ 40,00€ 20,00€
Module 3 200,00€ 100,00€ 40,00€ 20,00€
Module 4 200,00€ 100,00€ 40,00€ 20,00€
Total Programme 800,00€ 400,00€ 160,00€ 80,00€

The International Academy for Nature Conservation as the host of the programme will support participants with the logistical arrangements for their travel to the training venue. Accommodation and full boarding during the training modules will be provided at the Academy on the Isle of Vilm, Germany.


The application period for the 2015-2017 Klaus Toepfer Fellowship Programme isnow open.

If you are an early-career conservation professional from Central or Eastern Europe, the Caucasus or Central Asia fulfilling the Programme’s  eligibility criteriayou are cordially invited to submit your application documents electronically to, no later than 30 June, 2015. If you do not receive confirmation of the receipt of your application within three working days, or in the event of other problems, please contact

The following documents are required for application. Please note that there are three standard forms (application form, endorsement form, nomination letter) that need to be downloaded and filled in for application:

- Completed  application form (please download template)

- Diploma of highest academic degree

- Language diploma if available – highest level obtained

(please note that English language skills are a prerequisite to participate in the programme. However, an official language diploma is not part of the eligibility criteria of the programme. If no language diploma is available, English language skills will be tested via telephone interviews and/or online examinations, in addition to the self assessment on the application form)

- Curriculum Vitae

-  Nomination letter of employing institution (please download template)

-  Endorsement form filled in by employing institution and one additional person/institution (please download template)

- Scan copy of passport

Please name the application form and all other files with your name (e.g., application_firstname_lastname.doc) and send the documents as word or pdf files. Please note that applications that do not include ALL the above documents can not be accepted. All of the documents should be written in English. Only the endorsement letter can be written in Russian as well.

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