Creative Environmental Leadership Program

The Creative Environmental Leadership Program develops leaders by equipping partners to leverage creative advocacy strategies that incorporate arts and problem solving to build consensus in their communities around complex issues, develop inclusive solutions, and shift behaviors to support a more sustainable planet.

Recent Partners: A Rocha Ghana ᛫ Cameroon Gender & Environment Watch ᛫ Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organizational Development ᛫ ECOAN ᛫ Minga Peru ᛫ Nature Care Cameroon ᛫ Planeta Oceano ᛫ The Greens ᛫ WaterAid ᛫ Water for People ᛫ Wildlife Conservation Society

Participant Profile: Environmental organization leaders; protected areas managers; rangers; teachers

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Countries: Belize ᛫ Cameroon ᛫ Ghana ᛫ Guatemala ᛫ Honduras ᛫ Mexico ᛫ Nicaragua ᛫ Peru

The Challenge: Environmental movements need leaders that can collaborate, facilitate challenging conversations, build consensus, develop inclusive solutions, and shift behaviors. But grassroots leaders do not always have the access to transformational leadership learning and exchange opportunities that build on and complement their vast experience and knowledge.

The Model

The goal of this program is to build the leadership capacity and advocacy skills of grassroots environmental leaders. To do this we:

Impact: We measure success through the ability of partners to apply skills and tools learned

in our training to advance their work.  All participants in this program have increased skills and knowledge and apply what they learn.

Adapted Programming in 2021

The pandemic made it difficult to provide our interactive and creative trainings to our grassroots leaders in Latin America. We've adapted our programming so that leaders in all types of communities - whether in a big city or a rural village - have access to our unique trainings and essential resources so that they can continue to step up as leaders and catalyze change in their communities.

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Working with cohorts of grassroots environmental leaders to deepen creative leadership and advocacy skills through a series of four trainings.


Offering our Creative Advocacy Practicums (CAPs), a blend of one to one guidance, small grants and artist accompaniment provide opportunities for leaders to work with their communities to develop and test locally relevant solutions.


Creating space for peer exchange around the CAPs.


Online Courses

 We adapted our Creative SystemsCreative Collaboration, and Foundations of Creative Leadership courses into 8 virtual sessions. Using interactive and collaborative approaches online, the courses require participants to work outside of the sessions to engage critical thinking and creative problem solving. A self-guided version of our Creative Advocacy course is also available and is paired with SMS-based learning.

Coaching Calls

Coaching calls have been an ongoing part of our leadership programs, and will continue as normal. Each call is tailored to the needs of each partner to support them during this time. We will also facilitate 5 webinars which will provide a platform for participants to share some of their best practices for others to learn and adopt.

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Safe Skill-Building Clinics

Clinics are an important part of our Creative Environmental Leadership Program, and are essential in catalyzing change in communities. Clinics will take place virtually and, where possible, in-person following COVID-19 safety protocols.

Why It Works

While grassroots environmental leaders are passionate about their work and bring expertise on specific contexts, species and ecosystems, they are often looking for new ways to engage an array of community stakeholders. Creative Action Institute builds the capacity of these environmental leaders to foster community engagement, analyze complex challenges, identify inclusive solutions, and advocate for change. 

In 2020, 128 leaders at 66 organizations participated in this program. With tools developed from our trainings, our partners have de­veloped inclusive forest and water management plans, halted mining in a forest reserve, improved access to fresh water, and changed behaviors that help protect endangered species. (Sustainable Development Goals 6, 14, 15.)

Environmental leaders at Ahado Youth Environmental Club in Ghana used tools they learned from Creative Action Institute to engage over 5,000 people from several communities regarding the near extinction of native tree species and highlighted the negative health and environmental impacts. Executive Director, Phidelia Kokoroko reports:

The communities we worked with are now planting seeds of the native tree species and adhering strictly to traditions and community by-laws that restrict and control the use of the natural resources. Because of the interactive natures of the trainings and events, community mobilization has now become easy which will lead to increased collective participation in future programs.