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Bundesamt für Naturschutz

Information for employers

The Klaus Toepfer Fellowship Programme aims to strengthen organisations from the nature conservation sector in Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, by developing the personal capacity of early-career conservation professionals to overcome global biodiversity loss.

The Programme is funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Construction and Nuclear Safety (BMU) and implemented by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) in cooperation with IUCN, CBD, CMS, UNEP-WCMC and other international partners.

The training programme catalyzes capacity development through training on international best conservation practice and policy, management training, and the development of personal networks. It is aimed at professionals with strong leadership skills and encourages them to get involved and contribute to the development of their own organisations. The Fellowship is open to early-career conservation professionals (Government, NGOs, Academia or similar), from Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia.

Klaus Toepfer Fellowship

Promoting excellence and leadership among emerging nature conservation leaders from Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia

Programme Structure

The 18-month course consists of four 12-day extra-occupational training modules on the Isle of Vilm, Germany, and assignments between the modules. Each module includes 10 days of on-site training and a two-day excursion to leading nature conservation institutions and sites based in Germany. Training language is English. The modules combine joint learning on key conservation topics with management and leadership training:

  • Module Informing Conservation
  • Module Conservation Management in a Spatial Contex
  • Module Conservation Economics and Financing
  • Module Conservation Governance and Policy

Transfer Project

As part of the programme, participants will develop a transfer project with relevance to the work of their home institution. The transfer project, once implemented, is expected to improve the effectiveness of their organisation or project. It should address a technical or management challenge that the home institution is facing and suggest solutions or innovative ways how to overcome this. Participants will receive assistance and technical input by trainers and mentors throughout the entire elaboration process, while financial support to project implementation is not possible.


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.

For example, a participant from Kyrgyzstan has to pay 60 euros for transport costs for all modules, that is 15 euros for each module.

Information for nominating and supporting organisations

In order to apply for the Klaus Toepfer Programme, applicants must be authorised to participate by the institution at which they are currently working through a nomination letter and an endorsement letter. Applicants also have to submit a letter of endorsement from the institution or other reference persons active in the field of nature conservation.

Nomination letter

The nomination letter may only be completed by the candidate's employer. It serves as confirmation of the employer institution's support and approval of the candidate. After signing the nomination application form, the employer confirms that the candidate will be released from his/her duties during the participation in four modules (each module consists of 12 days) in Germany. Between the training modules, the employer will also take into account the candidate's requirement to complete additional assignments and to work on the transfer project.

Endorsement letter

The institution (where the applicant currently works) and another reference person complete a letter of endorsement in order for the applicant to be selected for the programme. The letter should contain the following information: Main responsibilities, experience, qualifications and motivation of the applicant, and a description of the applicant's leadership potential. The letter should clearly state why the applicant is recommended to participate in the programme and what changes in the organization/institutions the applicant can implement after the fellowship.

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