Willem Ferwerda has an impressive resumé, he studied tropical ecology and environmental science in Amsterdam and Bogotá. He has worked in several countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia on tourism, conservation, and restoration of ecosystems. He’s been the director of IUCN Netherlands, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the largest international union of nature organizations, states, and scientists. Ferwerda is also appointed Special Advisor Business & Ecosystems at the IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management, (Switzerland). He holds board or advisor positions at several institutions such as the World Land Trust (UK), the Charles Darwin Foundation (Galapagos, Ecuador), the Lippe-Biesterfeld NatureCollege Foundation (NL), and is an ambassador of the Dutch Platform on Biodiversity, Ecosystems, and Economy. Ferwerda is also a member of the Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration. In 2013 he founded Commonland, an organization that scales up existing ecosystem restoration projects by developing companies that will generate investment returns. Its goal is to contribute to the Bonn Challenge, a multinational agreement to restore 150 million hectares in 20 years.
In our conversation, we talk about how Commonland with their 4 Returns, a science-based framework transforms degraded ecosystems by focusing on 4 key returns over the course of 20 years. The 4 returns are return of inspiration, natural, social, and financial capital. We hear Willem speak passionately about his vision of a world that truly values nature and he explains what skills and capabilities he feels are needed within ourselves to be able to collectively restore our landscapes.