A male lion photographed in repose at Africat centre in Namibia. C. Paxton photo and copyright.

The Lion’s Share is a programme that engages advertising business with biodiversity conservation. This image is of a male lion photographed in repose at Africat centre in Namibia. C. Paxton photo and copyright.

Late September 2018 has been wonderful, and has had something of a dreamlike quality. It’s been a good dream for a change.  I think seeing my sister-in-law ringing the NASDAQ closing bell on September 25th and pictured towering over New York’s Times Square had a lot to do with my feelings of surreal uplift.

The big news that bell announced is the launch of the UNDP’s Lion’s Share programme. The Lion’s Share is an idea, brilliant in its simplicity and impressive in its audacity and scale that aims to provide much needed funds for global wildlife conservation from a small percentage (0.5%) of the advertising budgets from participating companies that use wildlife in their advertising.

The partners in the plan currently are United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and production company FINCH, Mars Incorporated, advertising giant Clemenger BBDO and leading global measurement and data analytics company Nielsen. The Economist Group will be supporting conservation from revenues generated by its advertising space proving to be highly innovative as well as authoratitive and influential.

In case you think that this might not be a big deal, think again. The participants are effectively putting biodiversity conservation into their business models, they’re all market leaders in their fields.

  • This could result in about US $100 million a year invested into biodiversity projects across the world.
  • These are voluntary contributions from some progressive-thinking businesses run by people who ‘get it’, i.e. have awoken to the importance of helping protect the wonders of our natural world before they’re all squandered.
  • This sends an important signal to the people on the front lines of biodiversity conservation that the world of transnational commerce is joining their fight.
  • The leverage from the exchange rate in developing countries yields a corresponding boost to the impact of this financial support.
  • The leverage of investment in sustainable development practices over time offers compounded beneficial effects that cannot be simply viewed in economic terms, i.e. improved Quality of Life dynamics — greater eco-system resilience and sounder societal foundation, greater well-being, more smiling and laughing, less sighing and weeping.
  • The ongoing nature of the programme generates faith that biodiversity support is not a flash in the pan, but is seen as a foundation of our civilizational edifice.
  • This helps provide another useful counterpoint to the ongoing momentum of environmental damage and destruction.

According to the UNDP Press Office:

“In the first six years, The Lion’s Share fund aims to contribute significantly to issues such as:

·         Saving the world’s last 4,000 wild tigers, including by re-establishing their fragmented habitats and helping strengthen tiger-friendly livelihoods for people living in tiger habitats.

·         Protecting elephants and rhinos from poaching by combating the illegal trade in ivory and rhino horn, including through innovative anti-poaching technologies.

·         Reducing the illegal trade of birds, fish and reptiles and other exotic pets in five countries by reducing the supply and demand for illegal pets through new research and investigation, awareness raising and enforcement.

·         Securing 1 million hectares of terrestrial and marine wilderness including critical corridors for big cat species, elephants and rhinos, including through land purchase and establishment of robust conservation-based management systems.

·         Supporting animal welfare by raising public awareness for compassion for animals, highlighting the causes and advancing solutions to help reduce abandonment and increase adoption.”

As a consumer, this warms me to the participating companies and inclines me to say in all sincerity, God bless them! I’m going to be looking for that paw mark logo on the ads feeling better that henceforth a proportion of the vast global advertising budget will be saving jaguars, elephants and tigers, gorillas and all the myriad animals, plants and fungi that share their biomes in our common ecosystem.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is very good news indeed! It will be nice to see other firms following this good example.