Creative, Multidisciplinary, Lucky
We can build a stronger global movement through peer-to-peer inspiration and collaboration. In a world of increasing connectivity, we can harness the power of networks to strengthen the impact of community-based initiatives.
I hope that joining the CEC will help build bridges to my peers all around the world.
We are part of one global community — we all bear environmental burdens. Unsung heroes and community-based initiatives all over the world are making important contributions by empowering youth with environmental awareness. By supporting the initiatives that are working on the front lines, where survival is at stake, we bridge the gap between academia and daily life. This act is paramount to conservation. Many of these initiatives lead by example, minimizing their footprint on the world and showing that we must not wait for the laws to change before we bring sustainability into our lives and institutions. However, community-based initiatives need the support of institutions and mainstream conservation groups.
I am a conservationist, educator, and marine biologist. With a background in large-scale conservation project design and management, Benavides decided to invest in grassroots approaches, working directly with communities who are most affected by environmental degradation and climate change. She co-founded, and continues to direct, ConCiencia, a Peruvian NGO that promotes conservation and education reform by using nature as an education matrix for all disciplines. ConCiencia builds environmental literacy and community empowerment in poor/ vulnerable communities in Peru where dependence on natural resource is high but understanding of the processes is low. Her mission is to spearhead a strong south-south cooperation for marine education. In the past four years, ConCiencia has grown into an advocacy group for nature-based education. Benavides is responsible for determining priorities and strategies, forming partnerships, promoting dialogue, integrating sectors and designing projects that will result in key insights on how to deliver environmental education that translates into conservation. Through ConCiencia, Benavides coordinates with local public schools, private initiatives, and corporations.
An evolutionary biologist by degree, I have over ten years of experience in environmental education. Five years ago, a job brought me to live in a very rural community in northern Peru that relied on small-scale fishing. This opened my eyes to the great environmental conflict that has arisen between displaced Andean populations and the dwindling marine ecosystem in the area. Fishermen had limited understanding of marine biological processes, while their children played on the roads and almost never in natural areas.
Soon after, I merged my experience in play-based environmental education (from Boulder, Colorado’s Thorne Nature Experience) and expertise in coastal management (from the Peruvian Environmental Trust Fund, aka Profonanpe) to create ConCiencia, a platform to reconnect children to their marine legacy. ConCiencia means “awareness with science”. Through direct outdoor experience complex scientific concepts may be turned into tangible experiences that help youth develop a deep understanding of the ecosystem.
ConCiencia is a traveling, design-based, horizontal, open collective that develops and implements programs in coastal communities where dependence on natural resources is high and understanding of environmental processes is low. ConCiencia generates multidisciplinary learning projects and open-source lesson plans with a rotating cast of outstanding and varied professional professionals of all disciplines. Join us: www.conciencia.org.pe
The newest initiative is ConCiencia Global, which sees professionals travel around the world to build bridges between community-based initiatives. The first phase focuses on southern fishing communities. Partners in Philippines and Thailand have quickly become close friends. Activities include media generation, peer reviews, transnational student linkages, and joint projects.
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Twitter - username: @dani_concienia
2013 Duke Global Fellow in Marine Conservation, Duke University
2014 Endeavour Scholar, Australian Government Awards
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