CREE’s units of success are people and the long-term change they are able to elicit in their communities. We first identify a talented and promising scientist (be they a natural resource manager, economist or social scientist) and then see if he/she has a good vision to sustainably develop their community. We evaluate this idea based on ecological and economic/market principles: is the project environmentally sound? If there is natural resource extraction involved, is it sustainable? If there is income generation proposed, is the business model economically sustainable and practical?
From here we work with the scientist to determine if he/she has the skills to incorporate and scale the idea. Do they have the know-how to run a business or NGO? Can they can evaluate their work and undertake evidence-based decision-making? Can they connect with a donor or customer pool? Can they work ethically and responsibly? Can they manage other staff? Do they have a thorough understanding of the cultural context they are working in? Does the project have the added benefit of addressing injustice inherent in the system? (ie lack of economic opportunities for women, lack of educational opportunities for youth).
Of course the answer to all the above questions is never ‘yes’ across the board. That is where CREE comes in, to fill in holes and bring potential to reality, giving financial, operational and technical support. We mentor and connect the scientist to accomplish their dreams. In this sense we see CREE as a dream incubator, because we are helping support the ideas the leader sees as the most relevant to solving environmental problems in their community.