There are over 30,000 conservation organizations in the United States. Why do we need another? What value could it possibly bring to this crowded space?
Cell phones were once nearly 2 pounds, but today we have the six-ounce iPhone X. In only three decades, creative and irreverent problem-solvers revolutionized the way we connect with friends and family, listen to music, and take pictures. They defied convention, imagined a future that few people could, and braved repeated setbacks to bring you the supercomputer in your pocket today. Transformations like these are common across much of our daily lives.
In contrast, our policies and programs to conserve the environment in the U.S. remain stuck in the 1970s. What’s the last revolution that has dramatically improved conservation in our rapidly changing world?
We believe our tools and tactics haven’t evolved anywhere near fast enough, and that's a huge problem. The reasons are many, including partisan views on the basic resources that sustain life and a perennial shortage of funding for conservation. But another set of reasons inspired us to create the Environmental Policy Innovation Center.
We believe that conservation lacks the cultural space for innovations that enable spectacularly faster, better, and more conservation. We believe that the room to defy convention, to think differently, to experiment, and to fail and learn fast are missing. And yet, these are crucial ingredients for breakthroughs that could foster a sustainable world for wildlife and people decades from now. Government is unable to provide those sparks, and businesses won't invest in conservation ventures that lack the potential to deliver enough profit. So the nonprofit community has to drive those breakthroughs.
We are a small group of diehard conservationists unsatisfied with the pace of change in our field. So we brought together our expertise and creative thinking to try something different.
Our mission is to build policies that deliver spectacular improvement in the speed and scale of conservation.
We focus on a narrow set of strategies.
- Improving policies that allow private sector funding or stewardship to expand or supplant public or charitable conservation work.
- Transforming government policies to focus on what matters – outcomes.
- Eliminating the organizational barriers that prevent public agencies from adapting to 21st century solutions.
What We Believe
- We believe that innovation and speed are central to broadening efforts to conserve wildlife, restore special natural places, and deliver people and nature with the clean water they need to thrive.
- To achieve those goals, conservation programs must evolve to accommodate our modern understanding of human behavior and incentives, and the challenges posed by humanity’s expanding footprint. Conservation’s puritanical roots, once a blessing, lacks the flexibility to drive this evolution.
- Fear within conservation agencies of experimenting with truly novel ideas, partly driven by a culture that does not embrace mistakes and adaptive learning, impedes our ability to discover better interventions for nature and people.
- A small group like EPIC can punch above its size, by playing ‘moneyball’ with conservation – using data and practical wisdom to find small changes in policy that lead to radical improvements in wildlife and habitat conservation, cleaner freshwater, and the shared sustainable use of our public lands.