CREE hopes to turn the dominant sustainable development paradigm on its head. We feel that, while noble in goals, mainstream Western-led sustainable development has been challenged to deliver long-term capacity from the developing world to both safeguard livelihoods and human well-being while protecting the environment.
Since foundation grant making is usually limited to one year and bilateral aid three to five years, often private and government funders face the challenge of having instituted a good project with deliverables (citizens involved, acres protected) that still lacks long-term continuity or local support. When funding dries up, community support is often lack-luster and initiatives that have gained momentum fizzle.
CREE’s vision is improve and enhance sustainable development practice by focusing first and foremost on empowering local people with leadership capacity to drive change beyond normal project cycles. CREE hopes to move past the boom and bust of project cycles by inspiring young scientists and leaders from the developing world to come up with their own long-term solution that is locally relevant and appropriate to natural resource degradation.
This work can and should go beyond instituting a community wildlife monitoring project, supporting a micro-enterprise to grow organic crops, or facilitating eco-tourism in an area. For CREE, the ultimate victory is inspiring and supporting upcoming scientists to start their own organization or sustainable business. This is because after defining the problem of their own accord and crafting their own solutions to natural resource degradation, an institution can be a permanent fixture in the development of the area. CREE helps the leaders in its network upscale their ideas to broaden their impact.