We’re living in an era of profound advances in our ability to collect, analyze, and distribute data. Every year, people are developing new systems for understanding and managing complexity. It’s time to harness this innovation for conservation.

In the face of unprecedented population growth and climate change, we are looking for ways to increase the pace and scale of conservation—and technology is a key enabler. Machine learning can reveal otherwise unseen patterns in water use or fishing practices. The ubiquity of data from low-cost satellites can provide key insights about the management of public lands or greenhouse gas emissions. These kinds of tools will drive the breakthroughs we need to succeed in a rapidly changing world. But we’re not a tech company, so how will we get the technology we need?

The Nature Conservancy is in a unique position to influence emerging technology development so that it provides targeted solutions to conservation problems. We have a strong brand, grounded in science, that many technology companies are keen to be associated with. And we have spent decades protecting nature by purchasing deeds and easements, so that we have a broad collection of farms, ranches, lakes, and forests where new technology can be tested in the field. But perhaps the biggest reason that tech companies would work with us is that they’re looking for use cases and we bring real world problems that need to be solved. We can help companies zero in on tangible, test applications by validating the need for specific data streams or products. This is especially important for smaller firms and startups that are looking for a way to establish themselves as industry players. The conservation market itself won’t necessarily yield big profits, but we can point to the industries that will benefit from their products and offer a huge market opportunity—from the fishing industry to the energy sector. We’ve created the Technology Catalyst Fund to facilitate these partnerships and leverage rapidly emerging technology to address key conservation problems.

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