Earth Skills Network


If you want to find out more about the Earth Skills Network then fill in our contact form.

Getting Started with Earth Skills Network

The Earth Skills network is a unique partnership between the business and conservation worlds, which provides an opportunity for you to become a business mentor and:

  • Leave a positive legacy at some of the world’s most valuable protected natural sites, by supporting their staff to address key business challenges
  • Develop your professional leadership capabilities and business skills mastery
  • Strengthen dialogue between businesses and protected areas

What is the Earth Skills Network?

The Earth Skills Network is a partnership between Earthwatch, UNESCO, IUCN and corporate partners, who are working together to improve the business management skills of staff working in protected areas.

If your organisation has not yet joined the Earth Skills Network, please contact us for more information on how your organisation can join.

The Earth Skills Network partners business professionals with protected area managers, offering business insights and training to help managers of some of the world’s most precious natural areas meet organisational challenges. This unique experiential learning programme aims to transform conservation through business skills sharing and personal skills development.

"In a world where an MBA is considered a prerequisite to managing any private sector company, it seems odd that management training is not readily available to those looking after some of the planet’s most precious wilderness areas. I am delighted that this unique collaboration …. is building the expertise of the custodians of our natural heritage."

Kishore Rao - Director World Heritage Centre

Why Protected Areas?

Protected areas are the cornerstone of international efforts to meet ambitious global conservation targets, such as preventing species extinctions and safeguarding valuable ecosystem services. However, “protected area management leaves much to be desired, with management effectiveness in most cases just meeting or missing acceptable minimum standards” (IUCN). A lack of staff training in business planning is a significant contributor.



History of the Programme

The Earth Skills Network is the evolution of the successful Business Skills for World Sites Heritage programme which ran between 2009 and 2013 in partnership with Royal Dutch Shell and UNESCO. Across both programmes, Earthwatch has trained 40 business mentors who were paired with 36 protected are organisations. This equates to 114 protected area staff trained in business skills.

"Shell’s interaction with Earthwatch is important on a number of levels. Through our business skills transfer initiative, Shell staff can directly apply their business skills and knowledge to a very different setting – helping build core skills within the conservation community who can in turn apply those to the more effective management of the protected areas they are responsible for."

Sachin Kapila, Vice President International Organisations, Government Relations, Royal Dutch Shell

The Earth Skills Network seeks to expand the reach of this highly successful programme to all natural protected areas (in addition to World Heritage Sites), and is welcoming new corporate members.

Find out more about the successes and impacts of the programme so far.

The Earth Skills Network Journey

As an Earth Skills Network business mentor, you will be partnered with a protected area, which you will mentor for at least one year, to develop business solutions that will improve the management effectiveness of this organisation. Mentors will first attend a Mentor Development Course which will train them to apply their existing business skills and knowledge to a protected area context. Trained mentors and protected area representatives will be brought together on a Residential Training Programme, set in an inspirational natural setting, where they will have the opportunity to share their experience and build the mentoring relationship. Please see the Earth Skills Network Journey to the right.

What’s in it for you?

This programme is an opportunity for you to:

  • Take part in a unique learning experience, which sharpens professional leadership competencies, mentoring, team building, influencing and facilitation skills
  • Apply your leadership and business planning skills cross-culturally and in an unfamiliar context
  • Contribute to the sustainability of a protected area, helping to enhance and protect the ecosystem services upon which businesses and communities depend
  • Understand the value of natural capital to businesses and society, and how business decisions can impact on protected areas
  • Strengthen dialogue and build more constructive relationships with the conservation community
  • Deepen your connection to nature through spending time in a stunning natural environment

Before applying ask yourself the following questions. Are you:

  • In a role with relevant areas of business management e.g. planning, finance, marketing, human resources or business operations?
  • Passionate about preserving the valuable natural heritage within protected areas in Africa?
  • Enthusiastic about developing your skills as a trainer and mentor?
  • Able to communicate fluently in English, both in writing and verbally?
  • Available to attend a five day Mentor Training Course in August 2017?
  • Available to be part of a 10 day intensive Residential Training Programme at the Lajuma Research Centre, South Africa in November 2017, with participants from your allocated protected area?
  • Willing and fit enough to live and work in basic accommodation for 10 days?
  • Able to commit to a 12 month mentoring relationship between you and the participants from your allocated protected area?

If the answer to these questions is yes, please click here for a full application pack laying out the details of the programme and an application form.

Application deadline for Shell Business Mentors is April 7, 2017


Read about the programme successes:
ESN programme successes