Delvis Fortes

The Marine Conservation
Leader

Over the past year, we have been committed to supporting conservation professionals from West Africa through the generous contribution of the MAVA Foundation. Delvis Fortes joined the MBA for Conservation Leaders Programme in 2020 via this scheme. After more than 6 months in the Programme, we had a chat with him about his conservation journey as a Marine Biologist, life at ALUSB, his mission for the conservation sector and how this ties into his future plans as a conservation leader. Delvis currently works as a General Administrator at the Atlantic Technical University of Cabo Verde.

The most interesting fact about yourself?

I’m a Marine Biologist and I have worked in the fisheries industry for 12 years, but I have never learned how to dive. So, yes, marine biologists do not know every single species living in the ocean.

Why did you choose wildlife conservation as a career path?

I have always been a wildlife lover, as most people who grew up and live surrounded by vast biodiversity. Growing up, I wanted to become an architect but the turning point for me was my 3 years course in technical fisheries oceanography/marine biology. This opened my mind, and created a desire to pursue a career along these lines. I moved on to undertake a Bachelor's degree in Marine Biology and Fisheries. From then on, the passion and awareness of the importance of conservation only increased from year to year, as well as my mission to contribute and make a difference.

What was that AHA moment when you started your career?

I started my conservation career by travelling to other West African countries. More often, this allowed me to explore how conservation work aligns with community development. This made me aware of the relationship between conservation and impact on the living conditions of fishing communities in my country. I also realized how the sector is highly reliant on foreign donations, which also proved itself in the various African countries I worked in. I believe with the right business mindset and proper utilisation of our resources, we can reach a point to fund our conservation efforts, and gain more sustainability in the sector.

Please trace your journey from when you started your career to date, what were the key events that shaped your journey.

My journey’s key milestones can be listed as follows:

2002 to 2005 – Pursued a course in Fisheries Oceanography /Marine Biology and recognised the very high potential Cabo Verde had for wildlife conservation. I recognised the direct impact conservation efforts can have on economic growth in fishing communities in the country.

2006 -2009 – Started my undergraduate degree in Marine Biology and Fisheries to keep growing my knowledge on marine wildlife, their management and conservation.

2007 – I started my professional journey at the National Institute for Fisheries Development, as a biologic and statistic data collector in their research team

2012 – Undertook the fisheries inspector certification and was selected to be part of the first national body for Fisheries Inspectors.

2015 –Appointed as the first National Coordinator of the Fisheries Inspector’s Body, being better positioned to contribute and help to make the difference.

2018 I participated in the "Practical Support for Sustainable Local Fisheries Development", capacity building programme organised by JICA, Japan. I also pursued a post-graduate diploma in Fisheries Policy and Management, United Nation University, Iceland, to learn more about decision making and policy making systems applied to fisheries management and resources conservation.

2019 – I started a new adventure, as the Coastal Seabird Project Manager at BirdLife International, Dakar Office. I was focused on management, planning, monitoring and implementation of project activities, being also responsible for monitoring the implementation of the activities of the 7 direct partners, in 3 different countries, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau and Mauritania.

2020 – I moved back home to work as a Consultant at the Coastal Fisheries Initiative’s Project for FAO, Cabo Verde, this included providing technical support, training and strengthening of organizational capacities in fishing communities.

2020 – I was accepted into the MBA for Conservation Leaders Programme, an opportunity to further develop my leadership skills.

2021 – I joined the Technical University of the Atlantic, a newly established university in Cabo Verde, as the General Administrator. This is an opportunity to keep growing as a professional and also contribute to wildlife conservation education and academic research.

To-date, what is the key moment of your career journey that will always resonate with you? Why the MBA Programme?

The key moment that will always resonate with my journey to date was being entrusted with leadership responsibility at the international level and outside of my fisheries expertise. It opened my eyes to the interrelation and interdependence of our biodiversity and provided more reason to pursue my chosen path with a passion. It really changed my personal and professional life.

The MBA for Conservation Leaders is the connection between Conservation and Business. I am building my skills as conservation leader and learning more about the Business of Conservation. The MBA has positioned me to take up the pressing issues in wildlife conservation and leverage the business and leadership acumen to manage these issues for growth and profit to make the difference I hope to see in the sector. I’m really far from being disappointed.

How would you describe your life at ALUSB/SOWC?

One of the key moments that will always resonate with me was the first intensive as a new MBA student. I realized that the program was even bigger and exciting than I imagined. It was a class full of individuals teeming with different missions to transform Africa. I reckoned how my mission fits into the one goal of helping Africa achieve its full potential in this century. Through this moment, I am constantly reminded of how being part of a bigger change starts with a single person taking initiatives and taking bold steps towards achieving the goal. SOWC connected me with people who always remind me of my vision and awaken my day to day commitment to conservation for my country and the continent, believing that in collective impact, we can make the grand change.

How has the MAVA scholarship helped you in your MBA journey

Without the MAVA Foundation Scholarship, it would have been impossible for me to kickstart my leadership development journey at ALUSB. I’m very thankful to MAVA and I’m sure many classmates would join me in celebrating their support for ALU to develop the next generation of conservation leaders for Africa. I also acknowledge the support MAVA has been providing for conservation efforts in West Africa. I’m proud to say that I’ve been part of the implementation team of the coastal seabirds project supported by them and implemented by Birdlife International Africa in Senegal, Guinea Bissau and Mauritania.

What is your vision for your career in the next 5-10 years and how do you think the MBA will impact it?

I will be at the forefront of conservation decision making in my country and my goal will be to promote conservation as a sustainable economic growth opportunity that can support poverty reduction in Cabo Verde and the rest of Africa. I truly believe wildlife, if well managed, can permanently improve human development index in Africa. This MBA and Conservation programme, in a perfect combination, will give me the additional tools and learnings I need to pursue my vision and keep on track for my goals.

Any advice for future conservation leaders.

As you graduate and build your career, life pushes you into different trajectories and into different roles, each one contributing to a specific aspect of your story. Make sure that you are doing your best every day to be better and you’ll be doing your part for a better world tomorrow.

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