Foto Willem´We live in an economic world in which disconnection between man and nature has become the norm. The need to reconnect with nature will be our utmost challenge. Only based on systemic thinking, a truly sustainable economy can be achieved´. – Willem Ferwerda

Willem Ferwerda (1959) studied tropical ecology and environmental science in Amsterdam and Bogotá and has a background in nonprofit as well as profit organisations. He has worked in various countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia on tourism, conservation and restoration of ecosystems. Between 2000 and 2012, Willem was director of the Dutch office of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the largest international union of nature organizations, states and scientists.

Under Willem Ferwerda, IUCN NL put biodiversity on the agendas of Dutch business and government, strengthened the Dutch nature conservation network and introduced the UN study ‘The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity’ (TEEB) to the business community in the Netherlands.

In 2005, Willem founded Leaders for Nature, an international business network on biodiversity and ecosystems. A year later he convened 80 CEOs to signing an open letter to the Dutch government, which led to the creation of the governmental Taskforce on Biodiversity and Natural Resources. His efforts resulted in 2010 to an agreement on biodiversity between VNO-NCW (Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers) and 35 nature organizations.

As change agent and connector, Ferwerda is looking for new (business) opportunities where ecosystems can be included in a positive way in people’s thinking and acting.

Ecosystem Return Foundation
Together with RSM, IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management and Groasis -greening technology, Willem Ferwerda is setting up the Ecosystem Return Foundation, which will act as an independent matchmaker between investors, companies and local organizations. Ecosystem Return Foundation aims to restore 200 million ecologically degraded areas in 20 years. In this project, Willem works with the Chinese-American filmmaker John D. Liu, visiting teacher of Spring College, known from the documentary on Green Gold.

More information on Willem, downloads of the publication ‘Nature Resilience – Ecosystem Restoration for Business’ and the brochure of Ecosystem Return Foundation can be found via this link.

Willem teaches on Money and Valuing Life on May 25th.