Project title GreenMatter Young Biodiversity Professionals Programme
Implementing Institutions GreenMatter/Lewis Foundation- South Africa
Endangered Wildlife Trust- South Africa
Institutional Natural Resources- South Africa
NCC Environmental Services- South Africa
CPUT University- South Africa
Country(ies) South Africa
Abstract This is a pilot of a collaborative graduate internship programme focused on biodiversity skills run through the support of The GreenMatter Fellowship programme. GreenMatter is seeking to advance their shared priorities by giving 15 individuals at university level relevant work experience by equipping them with high level skills and knowledge needed to access jobs in the related biodiversity sector. This programme is intended to promote individual development and self-awareness. It is directly linked to the IPBES objective of capacity strengthening and knowledge foundations.
Project Description This graduate internship programme focused on biodiversity skills will be run through the support of The GreenMatter Fellowship programme and is directly linked to the IPBES objective of capacity strengthening and knowledge foundations.

This integrated, multi-institutional initiative will facilitate high level skills development and job creation through a Work Integrated Learning Programme that includes HEIs. Interns will participate in the piloting of a cohort that extends across 3 organisations supported by GreenMatter with a co-ordinated skills development scheme across multiple agencies. All of the partners are well established organisations, with a track record in ecosystem management and in most cases have also invested institutionally in skills development initiatives. This will additionally facilitate exchange and learning. There are a number of challenges that this project seeks to address: It addresses the challenge high performing young academics who have a difficult time transitioning into the work arena and utilising their knowledge to impact real-life problems.

There is a wide disconnect between theoretical information disseminated from universities and the practical work required in the work environment which requires a concrete understanding of the business operations of an organisation. It is in alignment with the National Biodiversity Human Capital Development Strategy (NBHCD) specifically developed for organisations in the biodiversity sector that emanates from the Department of Environmental Affairs' Unit which responds to the NBSAP for South Africa.

Project Objectives and expected Achievables With a focus on developing high level skills that are much in demand, the National Human Capital Development Strategy for the Biodiversity Sector was launched under a mandate of the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA). GreenMatter’s role is to drive this strategy through shared ownership with a diversity of involvement, diversity of thought and a flexible yet focused approach to implementation. GreenMatter has a collection of clusters and associated projects which are to strengthen capacity in organizations towards fulfilling biodiversity mandates.

The objectives of this project the following:

GreenMatter currently has a Bridging into Work Cluster which aims to attract, enable access and skill higher education students and graduates as they bridge from the learning environment into work. This cluster has an opportunity to better engage with employers and the proposed initiative provides this platform. The GreenMatter Fellowship in partnership with the Higher Education Institutions) as well as employers are going to be working in a more integrated manner so that the revised Work Integrated Learning programme will have a more practical and coordinated approach. This project will be a more harmonised approach to HCD building on existing initiatives and during this process information will be collected to inform future decisions through knowledge generation and capacity building.

Along the human capital development ‘pipeline’ traversed by South Africans into the biodiversity sector, the transition from study to work is characterised by a number of challenges. These challenges affect all young people but may be insurmountable for students disadvantaged by factors such as geography, the history of their home communities, access to information and funds, and quality of education, both at school and at university.  The aim of this programme is to bridge this gap and ensure successful transition into the workplace that is also value adding to the host entity by ensuring that human capacity building is at the epicentre of this project. Therefore the main objectives of this project are the following:

1. Developing the knowledge base of young professionals who can respond better to the complex biodiversity issues of South Africa.

2. To ensure that there is wider demographic transformation for the biodiversity sector by facilitating the transfer of practical skills and knowledge. 

3. To provide young professionals the opportunity to complement the core business functions of the organisations that they are a part of through mentoring and coaching.

4. Equip participants with life/soft skills, technical experience, and business acumen to improve employability as well as leadership potential.

5. Establish networks through the GreenMatter Fellowship that promote information sharing throughout the biodiversity sector. 


Dependent on funding availability there will be 1 initial intake in 2016/17 for a 24 month period of 15 new fellows who are going to be a part of the first cohort in 2016.

A key component of this Biodiversity Young Professionals programme is the role of the established GreenMatter Fellowship programme which connects a community of outstanding youth champions and leaders at post-graduate level. Many of these fellows are engaging in cutting edge research and community work and the next phase from their studies is to transfer them into the workforce for greater impact.

• The participants of this pilot will apply through the GreenMatter Fellowship programme where recruitment for the awards commences at the end of the preceding year. There is an open call for applications. All applicants must be:

• a South African citizen; permanent resident

• in possession of a good pass (minimum of 60%, second class - upper division or equivalent) in their preceding qualification, or be about to graduate in the year of application;

• seeking funding for a full-time Honours, Masters or PhD study support at a South African higher education institution;

• pursuing a field of study aligned to the South African priority skills/areas identified by GreenMatter.

- The Fellowship application process is administered using online forms, followed by interviews of shortlisted candidates. Selection criteria include academic excellence, leadership competencies, promotion of equity and addressing financial hardship.

- There is a compulsory orientation workshop for all Fellows in their first year. During this orientation workshop (normally held over 3 days), Fellows participate in sessions on communications and media skills, ambassadorial skills and complete a personal professional development plan. The Fellows are also orientated to GreenMatter and introduced to the concepts, skills and tools of mentoring and networking.

- Each host employer will provide an induction programme for each young professional within the 1st Quarter.


1. Progress on skills and development plan assessments.

2. Competition of college degrees.

3. Increase in employability.

Monitoring and evaluation:

The intention of the pilot initiative is to explore the most appropriate programmes support and guide university students not only making informed career decisions but also in tracking their progress as they enter the workforce. Performance indicators will be set to measure and track input, and outcomes/results from employers and interns through an online platform. Success indicators shall be used to monitor progress and these will be measured through feedback reports, surveys, questionnaires, focus groups, from stakeholders.

Assessment Method:

Activity                                                        Year 1 Year 2


Organizational Induction

Baseline Skills and competencies assessment Q1            Q1

Involvement in projects                                    Ongoing Ongoing

Evaluation of progress and development Plans Q2 ,Q4  Q2Q4

Mentoring/Coaching                                  On Going On Going

Fellowship 2nd Contact Session.

Holistic Development and Networking               Q3           Q3

Technical Events, workshops and conference attendance AAAA;Twice a year

Review of skills and competencies outcomes     Q1 Q1,Q4


Timeframe 2 years
Geographic Scale Sub-national
Seeking Resources for: Project implementation
Type of Resources/Support needed: Financial
Name of organisation: 
Project relevance: 
Projects and activities of interest to IPBES and partners