Who can apply?
The Klaus Toepfer Fellowship Programme is open to early-career conservation professionals (Government, NGOs, Academia or similar), from Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, who preferably have at least three years of professional experience and preferably are not older than 35 years. The programme aims at emerging conservation leaders that have the support of their home organizations to attend the course, and a clear commitment to a career in their country of origin.
In order to be eligible for participation in the programme, applicants need to fulfil the following criteria:
- Submission of a complete application before the deadline
- Nationality and place of residence in one of the eligible countries: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Iran, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Northern Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan
- University diploma in a field that is relevant to the programme and its focus (Biology, Geography, Agriculture, Silviculture, Landscape Planning, Nature Conservation, Environmental Policy, Macroeconomics, Law – or other similar subjects relevant to nature conservation practice)
- 3+ years of working experience in applied nature conservation (work experience in parallel to academic studies can be taken into account)
- Currently working in an institution concerned with nature conservation
- Age should preferably be under 35 years, and should not exceed 40 years
- Be fluent in English, both written and spoken
- Endorsement of application by current employer
- Non-existence of reasons which make an absence from one or several course modules likely, as the modules build upon each other and as participation in the programme requires continuous attendance
- Ability for continuous work on transfer project and assignments in between the modules on a weekly basis, during the whole programme period
- Regular internet access
We look for participants with a strong leadership potential who want to broaden their understanding of conservation strategies and policies from local to global level and who are committed to play a central role in applied nature conservation in their home countries. The fellowship does not currently have a focus on field methods or environmental education.
Successful participants will sign an agreement with the Klaus Toepfer Fellowship Programme that will detail rules, commitments and responsibilities.
Selection of applicants
The selection of applicants follows a three-step process.
As the number of participants is limited, fulfilment of the eligibility criteria does not guarantee admission to the programme, and further selection steps are taken.
- In the first step of the selection process, complete applications that fulfil the eligibility criteria are assessed based on a numeric scoring system. Scoring of applicants is mainly oriented towards their qualification, motivation, leadership potential, commitment of the employing institution to support the applicant’s participation in the programme, quality of endorsement letters and the transfer project concept.
- In the second step, shortlisted applicants are contacted by phone, in order to clarify any open questions and to receive more information on the applicant.
- In the third step, 20 participants will be selected from the shortlisted applicants, taking into account additional criteria in order to achieve a balanced representation of countries and regions, gender, and governmental versus non-governmental backgrounds among the participants.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Klaus Toepfer Fellowship Programme will be conducted in English. This applies to all modules and to all additional assignments such as transfer projects, tests, presentations etc. Applicants are required to proof fluent English language skills in their application through a self-assessment and, if available, an English language skills certificate. The organisers may test the applicants’ English language skills via telephone interviews or online assignments.
The 18-month programme consists of four 12-day training modules, conducted at the Isle of Vilm in Germany, plus additional assignments the participants will have to complete between modules in their home countries. The start of a new cycle and of the application period will be announced on the website in due time.
The Klaus Toepfer Fellowship Programme is designed as an extra-occupational training programme. Therefore, participants only need to be present at the training venue in Germany during the four 12-day training modules. In between the modules, participants are expected to return to their home countries or countries where they are employed and to work on additional assignments such as e-learning units or case studies. Participants are also required to further work on their transfer project in between training modules. In any case, participants will be able to carry out the additional assignments alongside their work in their organisation. Travel to the home country between modules will be partly covered by the programme.
A full application for the Klaus Toepfer Fellowship Programme requires the submission of at least two endorsement forms, filled in by a representative of the employing institution and another reference person that is active in the field of nature conservation.
One copy of the endorsement form should be filled in by a senior representative of the employing institution (direct line manager, head of department, and/or higher-level representative). A further copy should be filled in by a person not working in the employing institution, such as a professor or a project partner.
Applicants are required to proof fluent English language skills through the self-assessment in the application form. If applicable, an English language skills certificate should be submitted to confirm the self-assessment of the applicant. Any English language skills certification will be accepted. However, the organisers reserve the right to test the applicants' English language skills via telephone interviews or online assignments.
If a participant’s field of study does not relate directly to nature protection, they would be eligible if they could proof in their application that they have collected extensive experience and knowledge in the field of nature conservation through complementary activities, such as employment and/or assignment of tasks in the nature conservation field, participation in additional trainings, workshops etc. Therefore, it would be important to document all the activities and experience collected in the field of nature conservation throughout their career. It is furthermore recommended to explain in the motivation letter how the skills and knowledge that may have been gained from studies of other subjects help the candidate to carry out their tasks in their current work area, and what they would need to learn in addition to improve their professional capacities.
On the website, 33 eligible countries are named while 20 applicants in total will be accepted to participate in the programme. Selection of applicants that fulfil the eligibility criteria will first and foremost be based on the assessment of their qualification, motivation, leadership potential, (higher-level) commitment of the employing institution to support the applicant’s participation in the programme, quality of endorsement letters and the transfer project concept. The programme also seeks a balance regarding the distribution of countries and regions, gender, and governmental versus non-governmental backgrounds among participants.
To be eligible for the Klaus Toepfer Fellowship Programmeapplicants need to provide proof of citizenship (copy of passport) of one of the countries eligible for the programme. Furthermore, employment in one of the eligible countries is required. This implies that applicants originating from one of the eligible countries working in another eligible country will be considered. If the applicant’s work place is located in a non-eligible country, the applicant cannot be considered for participation in the Klaus Toepfer Fellowship Programme. This refers to the date on which the programme starts.
The applicant's residence and country of origin needs to be in one of the eligible countries listed in the eligibility criteria. However, the employing institution does not need to be registered in one of the eligible countries, and may also be an international organisation.
Participation in the Klaus Toepfer Fellowship Programme is free of charge. Participants will receive free board and accommodation at the training venue and during excursions, as well as a contribution towards their travel expenses. Health insurance during stays in Germany and visa application fees will also be covered by the programme. Nevertheless, participants have to make a contribution towards their travel expenses. The proportion of expenses to be covered by participants or their home organizations is based on a scheme, which relates to the gross domestic product of the respective countries.
The contributions towards travel costs to be covered by participants are the proportion of travel related costs (flight, train, public transport, meals during travel and excursions) that participants have to pay themselves. In the unlikely case where travel costs are lower than the mentioned amount, the actual costs and a contribution to meal costs during excursions will have to be covered by participants.