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Conservation Challenge Canvas



This tool will help teams diagnose the problem they are intending to tackle, make sense of the information they already have, understand which other information they'll need, and eventually agree on actionable design challenges that emerge from that problem.

By completing this canvas, participants will have a better, shared understanding of how the conservation challenge is framed. The team will probably not get it right the first time, but you can always come back and change things or have several versions of this document showing iteration as you refine your problem with deeper understanding. 



- Grand Challenge: Start by agreeing on the grand challenge that you are trying to address, this could be "restoring coastal ecosystems in ..."


- Specific Problem: now think about which specific conservation problem you will try to frame for this project. This would be a smaller part the grand challenge, such as: "carry out riparian planting in X area of the region".


- Goals: Then try to determine one or more project goals, be specific, for example: "help local communities obtain seeds of indigenous plants free of charge", "engage the community local community in coastal conservation" 


- Sustainable Development Goals: Once you agree on your goals, think about which UN SDGs this project relates to, this will help the team categorise the project for external communication and align with a global community. 



D4C understands the importance of working locally with the people that are most affected by the problem.

- Cultural Obligations: Discuss which cultural values should be observed while working in this project. Consider that indigenous communities have been carrying out conservation successfully over centuries, how are you respecting their work, or partnering with them in this project?

- Relation to Place: Working in a specific Physical context will present specific challenges, try to think about these relations. For example: "coastal communities of X are highly susceptible to climate change, specifically rising sea levels".

- Voices: Try to capture different comments that you've heard about this problem, you might want to explore conflicting opinions, such as "I love how mowed lawns look like in this particular area" or "There are no bees or birds around, these artificial laws are not supporting a healthy ecosystem"

- Requirements: Think about specific requirements or constraints that will affect this project, such as "funders will pay for machinery and seeds but not for the workforce".


Discuss who is most affected by this problem / your project? Who should have a say in it? Who could be your partners? Try to write down the main stakeholders, you don't need to fill all the boxes or limit them to three for each category.

- Human: Who are the main people that are affected by this problem? Try to consider groups of people. These could be citizens of x area, students, pedestrians, etc.

- Non-human: Here you can write down specific species, ecosystems, places, ecological events (in some countries, places are considered beings), spiritual beings and others.

- Institutions: Here you can write down any institution that will be affected by this challenge. Such as a governmental institution, business, ngo, etc.

- Others: Is there anything or anyone else that should be considered?


DC are actionable questions, these are positive and clear. Try to make them specific. Example" How might we engage local citizens to rewild their backyards with local indigenous plant species?"


What will happen if your project works? How will you define “success”? Describe different impact indicators and speculate on how these could be measured.

Think about short, medium and long term indicators of success, these could be aligned with a theory of change (if you have one). These can be quantitative or qualitative, such as "more native birds in the area, indicated by: birds/km2" (quantitative). "Songbird background noise while engaging in outdoor activities" (qualitative). Qualitative indicators are softer, relate to indigenous approaches, and allow for environmental signs to be considered as omens.

6. This document is an excellent starting point. It will help teams make agreements that will guide the rest of the D4C process, but it is still a work in progress, so don't be afraid to change it throughout the whole process.


60 minutes

- Pens
- Canvas template - A3 or A2

Conservation challenge

CREDITS: Created by Gabriela Baron 2020.

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