Klaus Toepfer Fellowship Programme for Nature Conservation Leaders 2017, Germany

Publish Date: Mar 22, 2017

Promoting excellence and leadership among emerging nature conservation leaders from Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia

The Klaus Toepfer Fellowship Programme aims to strengthen organisations from the nature conservation sector in Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, by developing the personal capacity of early-career conservation professionals to overcoming global biodiversity loss. The training programme catalyzes personal capacity development through training on international best conservation practice and policy, management training, and personal network development.

Key features of the Klaus Toepfer Fellowship Programme:

  • The only extra-occupational training programme for established conservation professionals from both governmental and non-governmental organizations of the region
  • Putting a broad focus on biodiversity policy
  • Promoting professional excellence
  • Focusing on technical, management and leadership skills
  • Considering the ecological, historical and political linkages among the transition countries of the Eurasian region
  • Fostering a professional network in support of regional cooperation in biodiversity conservation
  • Combining highly interactive seminars held in English language, field trips and inter-sessional assignments, e-learning as well as a transfer project.

The Klaus Toepfer Fellowship Programme is implemented by the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) in partnership with IUCN, the CBD Secretariat, the Secretariat of the CMS, and UNEP-WCMC. Funding of the programme is provided by the Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB).

The application period for the 2017-2019 cycle of the Klaus Toepfer Fellowship Programme will start on 1 April 2017.

Programme structure

The upcoming 18-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 (September 19 – 29, 2017)
  • Module 2 "Conservation Economics and Financing": Ecological economics, TEEB, resource mobilization and sustainable financing of conservation measures; fundraising, proposal and technical writing (March 5 – 16, 2018)
  • 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, 2018)
  • 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 (February 25 – March 8, 2019)

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.

During intervals between the modules, participants will be expected to work on their transfer projects and fulfill additional assignments such as e-learning units and work on case studies. The work on transfer projects and additional assignments will require approximately 350 hours of work by participants in between the modules in total.

Who can apply?

The Klaus Toepfer Fellowship Programme is open to early-career conservation professionals (Government, NGOs, Academia or similar), from Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, who preferably have at least three years of professional experience and preferably are not older than 35 years. The programme aims at emerging conservation leaders that have the support of their home organizations to attend the course, and a clear commitment to a career in their country of origin.

Eligibility criteria

In order to be eligible for participation in the programme, applicants need to fulfill the following criteria:

  • Submission of a complete application before the deadline
  • Nationality and place of residence in one of the eligible countries: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Iran, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, FYR Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan
  • University diploma in a field that is relevant to the programme and its focus (Biology, Geography, Agriculture, Silviculture, Landscape Planning, Nature Conservation, Environmental Policy, Macroeconomics, Law - or other similar subjects relevant to nature conservation practice)
  • At least 3 years of working experience in the nature conservation sector (work experience during academic studies can be taken into account)
  • Currently working in an institution concerned with nature conservation (e.g. governmental institutions, non-governmental organizations (NGO), research institutes or similar)
  • Age should preferably not exceed 35 years
  • Be fluent in English, both written and spoken
  • Endorsement of application by current employer
  • Regular internet access

Selection of applicants

The selection of applicants follows a two step process.

In the first step, complete applications that fulfill the eligibility criteria are assessed based on a numeric scoring system. Scoring of applicants is mainly oriented towards their qualification, motivation, leadership potential, commitment of the employing institution to support the applicant’s participation in the programme, quality of endorsement letters and the transfer project concept. Secondarily, the programme seeks a balance regarding the distribution of countries and regions, gender, and governmental versus non-governmental backgrounds among participants.

In the second step, shortlisted applicants and their respective references may be contacted, in order to clarify any open questions and to receive more information on the applicant if needed. Finally, a total of 20 participants will be selected to participate in each cycle of the programme. As the number of participants is limited, fulfillment of the eligibility criteria does not guarantee admission to the programme.

Costs & organisational issues

Participation in the Klaus Toepfer Fellowship Programme is free of charge. The participants will receive free accommodation and board 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, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey

Country Group B

Belarus, Bulgaria, FYR Macedonia, Iran, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Turkmenistan

Country Group C

Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kosovo, Moldova, Mongolia, 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€ 90,00€ 50,00€ 15,00€
Module 2 200,00€ 90,00€ 50,00€ 15,00€
Module 3 200,00€ 90,00€ 50,00€ 15,00€
Module 4 200,00€ 90,00€ 50,00€ 15,00€
Total Programme 800,00€ 360,00€ 200,00€ 60,00€

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.

Training venue

The training modules will be conducted at the International Academy for Nature Conservation of the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation on the Isle of Vilm. Part of the Southeast Ruegen Biosphere Reserve, the 94 ha island is not only of exceptional natural beauty, but also an ideal venue for concentrated course work. While the Isle of Vilm is an example of successful efforts to conserve natural resources since as early as 1812, the facilities are also fully equipped to meet today’s demands of study (WiFi etc.).

The academy has an outstanding reputation for conducting training and expert workshops on a wide range of conservation topics, with a particular focus on Eastern Europe.

Accommodation is provided in 9 guesthouses which are equipped with telephone and internet access. All meals are provided by the academy’s canteen – which is important considering the remote location and lack of shops on the island. The facility serves predominantly organic and seasonal food from the surrounding region.

The island is accessible by ferry from the port of Lauterbach on the larger island of Ruegen. There are regular trains connecting Lauterbach to Berlin, Hamburg and Rostock airports.


The application period for the 2017-2019 cycle of the Klaus Toepfer Fellowship Programme will start on 1 April 2017. 

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. If no language diploma is available, language skills will be tested via telephone interviews and/or online examinations)

- 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.

For more information please click "Further Official Information" below. 

Further Official Information

Link to Original

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