All across the developing world, farmers, fishermen, community leaders, and families are struggling to meet basic life needs in the face of dwindling natural resources. At the same time, conservationists are lamenting the ineffectiveness of protected areas and the lack of public support for environmental change. One thing is clear: while conservation has long been science-driven, success will ultimately come down to changing the way people relate to nature. In the face of a global extinction crisis, climate change, dwindling fish stocks, and disappearing forests, conservationists find themselves in dire need of a new set of tools—tools for changing behaviors and inspiring civic action. Tools for re-imagining conservation on a human scale. Rare and its partners in fifty countries have been testing and refining an innovative method for social change that is helping fill this need. It’s called a “Pride” campaign, so named because it inspires people to take pride in the species and habitats that make their communities unique, while also giving them real alternatives and incentives to change environmentally destructive behaviors.
Rare has launched more than one hundred and fifty campaigns for conservation. These have reduced overfishing and illegal logging, improved management of protected areas, increased adoption of more sustainable agriculture, and saved multiple species on the brink of extinction. All Pride campaigns are run by local partners, and the campaign leaders receive a Master’s degree in Communications upon completion of both rigorous academic study and implementation of a two-year campaign at their site.