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The former head of the WWF Sanlam Living Waters Partnership, Dr Deon Nel, officially returned to WWF in 1 April 2011 to lead the organisation’s new Biodiversity Unit.
“I am excited to be back at WWF. I have always lived by the principle of making the greatest difference I can for the environment that we live in, and at WWF I am well positioned to achieve just that,” said Dr Nel.
Dr Nel previously headed WWF’s Marine Programme and later the Sanlam Living Waters Partnership for the six years that he was with WWF. He left the organisation in 2009 to join the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) where he managed the Ecosystems and Water Competency Areas.
In his new role, Dr Nel will provide strategic guidance to WWF’s five key biodiversity work areas, namely: freshwater, marine, sustainable agriculture, land and stewardship and the Table Mountain Fund (TMF).
The biodiversity unit’s strategic focus includes maintaining and enhancing the integrity of the country’s natural ecosystems through integrated planning, governance and management; de-coupling economic growth and well-being from environmental degradation; and improving economic and societal resilience through a better understanding of future change.
“Globally we are living in a period of risk and change, and we need to think strategically and progressively to ensure that we respond successfully to some of the pressing issues that threaten the integrity of our environment and in so doing, our lives and livelihoods,” said Dr Nel.
Dr Morné du Plessis, CEO of WWF South Africa, said that “WWF is delighted to welcome a thinker and practitioner of Dr Nel’s calibre back to WWF in this vital new portfolio. Together with the WWF Biodiversity team, he will work towards positioning WWF as an innovator and facilitator of integrated social-ecological solutions that will help deliver a resilient South African economy for the benefit of all South Africans.”
Dr Nel holds an MSc (Conservation Biology), MA (Environmental Law), and a PhD. He is also in the final stages of completing an MBA.