Biodiversity & Nature-based Solutions

With nature-based solutions, we aim to address the biggest challenges of the 21st century: climate change and biodiversity loss. In this webinar, experts and practitioners zoom in on the biodiversity component of nature-based solutions. How do nature-based solutions contribute to nature-positive futures? And, what is happening around the world? Join this informative and inspirational event to learn more and be inspired.

Organised by WUR Student Challenges in collaboration with Youth In Landscapes, Future For Nature Academy, Arcadis, NJR and World Food Forum

Tue 21 February 2023 15:30 to 16:45

Venue Online


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  • Liesje Mommer, Professor & leading the Wageningen Biodiversity Initiative at Wageningen University & Research
  • Cas Dinjens, Advisor Marine Ecology at Arcadis
  • Ida Simonsen and Wouter Ubbink, United Nations youth representatives on Biodiversity and Food
  • Samara Dilakshani Polwatta Lekamlage, Winner of the WUR Nature Based Solutions Challenge 2022 with the project “School Meets The Reef” (Sri Lanka) and Restoration Steward of Youth in Landscapes
  • Levis Sirikwa, Restoration Steward of Youth in Landscapes and co-founder of the Ceriops Research Environmental Organization
  • Caleb Ofori Boateng, CSIR-Forestry Research Institute of Ghana, winner of the Future for Nature Award in 2014

Speaker biographies

Samara Polwatta

Samara Polwatta is pursuing a Joint Master’s at the University of Bonn and United Nations University institute for Environment and Human Security. This field has allowed her to understand human and environmental security and to how to engage in humanitarian relief, disaster risk management, ecosystem-based adaptation, and conservation. She is currently writing her master thesis on the topic of coral reef ecosystems as a tool for ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction. She also works as a Junior Consultant at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Integration team on data curation and data management related to SDG tracking within the GeoHub.

About the project

“School Meets the Reef” aims to grow the value of coastal ecosystems through coral reef restoration and by building awareness of coastal ecosystems. The project was established to fulfill the urgent need for restoration in Sri Lanka’s coral reefs and works primarily in Kalkudah, Batticaloa district. It aims to build artificial in situ coral reef nurseries and carry out monitoring and evaluation on the restored reefs and nurseries. The project is also guided by a strong educational focus, working with local schools to build awareness of the importance of coastal ecosystems, restoration methods and nature-based solutions around coastal ecosystems.

Levis Sirikwa

Levis Sirikwa has over half a decade of experience in coastal and marine resource management, specifically in the active restoration of degraded mangroves, sustainable agriculture and local coastal community empowerment.​ He co-founded the Ceriops Research Environmental Organization, which works on several projects within the blue economy space in Kenya. The projects that he manages in the organization include the Casina Farms (sustainable coastal agriculture), Mikoko na Jamii (mangrove and communities) and Mangrove Buddy (advocacy and awareness) programs. The three project models are underpinned by community empowerment, sustainable development and data-driven approaches.

About the project

The slogan for the “Mikoko na Jamii” model is to halt loss, double restoration, and triple protection through investments. Working directly with Indigenous coastal communities around mangrove ecosystems in Kenya, the project seeks to not only restore 1 hectare of degraded mangroves but also build the capacity of local communities to generate livelihoods through mangrove ecosystems. The project will be implemented across four community groups in Mombasa and Kwale counties. Upon the completion of the project, the project beneficiaries are expected to be able to conduct mangrove monitoring by themselves as well as understand the policy frameworks that govern their operations and hence align themselves to benefit from the provisions of the policy frameworks.

Caleb Ofori Boateng

Caleb Ofori Boateng started his study biology in Ghana in 2006. The record of amphibian species occurring in the country was incompletely documented at that time. Therefore,Calebmade his own accurate and comprehensive list of all amphibians in Ghana, making him the first biologist in Ghana to research amphibians. When he began his study,Calebstarted a small amphibian conservation interest group at his university and in 2011 HERP Conservation Ghana officially became an NGO. Headquartered in Kumasi Ghana, HERP-Ghana spearheads the conservation of amphibians and reptiles in West Africa through partner institutions in other West African countries.

DuringCaleb’s fieldwork, he found species that had never been described before, and, even more surprisingly, he rediscovered amphibian populations that were thought to be extinct. One of these amphibians was the Togo slippery frog, which was believed to be extinct for nearly four decades. In Ghana, people generally trust information that is provided by religious centres. To protect these species and to convey a strong conservation message,Calebdeveloped ‘conservation evangelism’. By speaking in existing religious programmes, both Islamitic and Christian, his conservation message is better accepted by locals and is successfully mobilising a wave of change, resulting in reduced hunting pressure and human consumption, and a stable population of the Togo slippery frog.

Mr. Simon Stuart, International Selection Committee of Future For Nature says: "It is extremely difficult to excite interest in amphibian conservation in West Africa, butCaleb's leadership skills are such that he has achieved the impossible, working especially with faith communities.”

Youth Network Partners

Involving and preparing the next generation is a core task of WUR throughout its history. In the past years WUR has organized several youth engagement activities to incorporate the voice of a diverse international group of young aspirational young people. WUR is pleased to partner with the below Youth Networks in this webinar.