Pitch for the Grant 2023: Danone and the Convention on Wetlands announce the winner

21 September 2023
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An initiative to restore the Venter Valley Wetland in Zambia is the winner of the 2023 Pitch for the Grant award. Shoebill Environmental Consultancy (Shoebill Solutions) submitted the winning project idea to restore Venter Valley Wetland and they will receive the grant prize of EUR 10,000 provided by Danone. 

Venter Valley Wetland is valuable for waterfowl conservation, stormwater management, and environmental education. It is also important for research and recreation, as well as a critical habitat for biodiversity.

Yet, in recent years, the destruction of waterbird habitats, removal of wetland plants, and large-scale plastic pollution have all contributed to the rapid degradation of this urban wetland located in the heart of Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia.

“The grant represents a unique opportunity to restore a rare gem in the middle of the City of Lusaka but also represents an opportunity to catalyze urban wetland restoration for flood management and biodiversity across the city,” said David Ngwenyama, Director and Lead Ecologist at Shoebill Solutions.

Shoebill Solutions will work to rehabilitate Venter Valley Wetland with multiple partners that will include landowners, Holly Golding and Adam Golding, Manzi Valley Water Bottling Company, Wildlife and Environmental Conservation Society of Zambia, Birdwatch Zambia, and International Crane Foundation.

The winning project idea was selected by a judging panel of five, namely:

  • Jay ALDOUS, Deputy Secretary General of the Convention on Wetlands
  • Chris ECCLES, Chief Technical Officer, Sea Waters Solutions
  • Jehanne FABRE, Sustainability Water Director at Danone
  • Claire WARMENBOL, Communications and Partnerships Manager, International Union for the Conservation of Nature 
  • Zoe ROSENBLUM, PhD Candidate, Oregon State University.

Pitch for the Grant is an initiative under the Action for Wetlands Fund established in 2022 by the global food company Danone and administered by the Convention on Wetlands. The fund seeks to support advanced ideas and approaches that offer solutions and accelerate actions to conserve, restore, and sustainably use wetlandsIt was launched on 2 February 2022, for the first celebration of World Wetlands Day as a United Nations International Day.

Pitch for the Grant 2023 received over 260 project proposals bringing a raft of ideas and actions for wetland conservation and to improve people’s livelihoods and well-being.

Between 2 February and 2 March 2023, individuals, community organizations and social enterprises could submit project ideas for a chance to win a grant of EUR 10,000, under the Action for Wetlands Fund created as part of the renewed partnership agreement between Danone and the Convention on Wetlands.