Dr Tracey Phillips
Areas of Expertise
Integrating environmental, social and economic expertise o promote value-driven climate smart, sustainable development.
Leading multi-disciplinary teams to successfully implement complex projects in complex environments.
Good imagination, sense of adventure and passion for exploring underpin creative, organizational and project development skills.
Science, maths, accounting and systematic thinking strengths underpin strategic planning, organizational and project management skills.
Understanding of process and patterns, an inquisitive and analytical mind underpin research, monitoring and evaluation skills.
Empathy, an innate ability to listen, my own personal journey, and training in ‘Mindful Self-Compassion and “Thinking Environments” underpin personal, community and team development, facilitation and mentorship skills.
Enjoyment of the written word and stories underpin creative, popular, scientific, reporting and proposal writing skills.
Ph.D., Coastal Ecology, Rhodes University, South Africa, 1994
Ph.D. dissertation examined dispersal, settlement and recruitment and their influence on the population dynamics, sustainable utilisation and conservation of intertidal mussel populations, including implications for placement of marine protected areas along the coast.
B.Sc. Honours, Rhodes University, South Africa, 1987.
B.Sc., University of Cape Town, South Africa, 1986.
Senior Scientific Research Officer, Sir Percy Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town, South Africa, 1994
Research and analysis for Eco-Africa Environmental Consultants
English & Afrikaans
Microsft Office Suite
Dr Tracey Phillips is passionate about nature, happiest exploring wild paths, most motivated exploring ways for people to thrive in harmony with nature.
She studied zoology, specializing in coastal ecology – where land, life and water meet. This gave her an understanding of natural systems and where people fit into those systems.
For 25 years Tracey has used her understanding of natural systems to explore sustainable livelihoods…
Designing, raising funds and implementing over 100 projects and training programmes to create alternative livelihoods where fish, diamonds or other resources had all but run out.
Adapting practice to improve health and productivity of land, water and livelihoods.
Forging a bridge between policy, strategic planning and grassroots implementation.
“I learned a lot about people, development and business along the way, forging an unusual skill set spanning scientific, creative, emotional, relational, administrative and organizational areas. This skill set and a seemingly natural talent for development helps me turn dreams into reality – to offer hope, if little else, in desperate situations.”
Through the training she conducted, Tracey came to believe in the transformative power of mentorship on the job – be it planning, implementation, operational, monitoring or evaluation.
“Marrying theory and practice in the moment tends to take you to a whole new level of understanding”
With these lessons and experience behind her, over the last 5 years Tracey emerged as a mentor, providing strategic guidance and support to individuals, projects and organizations working to restore, protect or sustainably use natural and cultural resources.
“I have integrated what I have learned over 25 years of research and development practice into a mentorship programme, which instils simple day to day practices that my experience suggests are basic building blocks for sustainable livelihood development.”
Tracey offers customized services, introductory training workshops and ongoing guidance and support. She works in person, remotely and online and drawing in colleagues to offer specialist guidance and training in particular areas of interest. She also works in association with Gondwana Alive, a non-profit company, to raise funds to help those who need support but cannot afford it.
Her vision is to guide and support pivotal role players from all walks of life, who in turn guide and support others – creating a social movement toward healthy people and planet.
Part of international team that built the !Khwa ttu San Heritage Centre which won “Best Museum Project” and “Best Cultural Experience” awards in 2019.
Led the Gondwana Alive project team awarded a certificate of appreciation in 2018 from SANBI, Department of Environmental Affairs and the Adaptation Fund for implementation of a Land & Livestock Adaptation project. The project also featured on the home page of the Adaptation Fund website.
Led the Gondwana Alive project team recognized in 2015 by the South African National Botanical Institute, for Gondwana Alive’s contribution to Groen Sebenza – a green jobs mentorship programme.
Completed the first Mindful Self Compassion course run in South Africa and play a central role in setting up and maintaining a MSC practice group. Also completed short courses on creating a “Thinking Environment” and tour guiding.
Awarded a PhD in Zoology, specializing in coastal ecology – 1994
Valerie Pascoe Cup for the highest mark in Accountancy and Standard Bank Award for the highest mark in Accountancy – Matric, 1983
Several primary and high school trophies for swimming and squash, including the Victrix Ludorum in matric.
Ranked number 1 under 19 squash player in the province and awarded provincial squash colours while at university.
Post university completed the Cape Argus Cycle Tour four times and more than 5 multi-day overland hikes.
Eco Africa (12 Years, 1994-2006)
For profit consulting company – employed as administrator, consultant and eventually deputy CEO and partner.
Private Consultancy (12 years, 2007-present)
Sole proprietorship – focussed on finance, mentorship and training for sustainable development.
Gondwana Alive (10 years, 2009-present)
Non-profit company and public benefit organization – volunteer as co-director and CEO, contracted as needed to implement grant funded projects.
Swiss Ubuntu Foundation (6 years, 2013 – present)
Provide guidance and support to their partnership project with indigenous San of Southern Africa – !Khwa ttu San Culture & Education Centre and related heritage, conservation, training and tourism activities.
Implemented over 100 projects in over 40 communities in 4 regions (South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Madagascar). Managed up to 300 project staff, 400 trainees and R8 million in budget at one time. Trained over 1000 people in communities spread over 2000km.
Key stakeholders included: Local communities, Local business (private sector), NGOs, Government – National, Provincial and Local, National and International Development and Funding Agencies, other Foundations and Donors.
Beneficiaries: The unemployed and entrepreneurial with a balance of men, women and youth, largely from vulnerable, remote rural communities in biodiversity hotspots.
Common to all projects is climate smart, sustainable livelihood development that drives biocultural stewardship, resilient communities and local economic development.
A full list of projects is available on request.
I emerged from my PhD research into the working world in 1994, when apartheid policy dissolved and South Africa’s new democracy emerged. Much of my career has been focussed on helping to create the Rainbow Nation envisaged by Nelson Mandela. It was also a time when diamond mines and large fishing companies began downscaling and commercial farms began struggling. This undermined the communities and cultures that had built up around these industries, and resulted in job loss in remote areas with few other livelihood options. In response, there was a shift to small-scale mining, fishing and farming, a search for alternative livelihoods, and the introduction of an Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) – to help create temporary jobs and build skills to develop sustainable livelihoods.
I began my career working with the University of Cape Town and Eco-Africa Environmental Consultants to research in diamond mines along the West Coast of South Africa and Namibia. Our job was to investigate possible alternative livelihoods, including sustainable harvesting of limpets (shellfish) on rocky shores, and growing eco-tourism around the rich natural and cultural resources of the area. This began a life-long career of working with communities in crisis.
Concurrently, we supported South Africa’s Coastal Management Policy Programme, and assisted in implementing a plan to establish a marine protected area on the Masoala Peninsula in Madagascar. Here we helped to train guides and run trial tours to help develop tourism as an alternative to fishing in the protected area. We also engaged in eco-tourism development in Botswana. Through these activities I learned the tourism trade, trained as a tour guide and learned to package tours, write and produce travel brochures. Later I learned to write website and social media content, popular articles and book contributions.
Clients: Alexkor Ltd, Namdeb (Pty) Ltd, CARE Madagascar, Madagascar Adventures, Air Madagascar, Aspects of Live Adventures, Kalahari Kavango, Tourism Training Institute and Boston Training College, Cape Town City Council, Robben Island Museum, SA Department Environmental Affairs & Tourism, Southern Connecticut State University, Fishhoek Middle School, GTZ (German development agency), National Ocean & Atmospheric Administration – US Department of Commerce.
This flowed into assisting with policy implementation of the emerging Marine Living Resources Act and Integrated Coastal Management Act. After a brief consultation engaging with subsistence fishers around the coast, my focus shifted to implementation of the Coastcare Programme. I helped develop and deliver education and training to Coastcare EPWP workers in over 40 coastal communities from Alexander Bay on the Namibian border, down the West Coast to Cape Town, around to the southern Cape coast and along the Wild Coast. Our job was to provide training that would help Coastcare workers (i) understand ecosystem processes, (ii) the opportunities associated with restoring and making sustainable use of natural and cultural resources, and (iii) how to develop sustainable livelihoods through the creation of small enterprises. Through these activities I learned how to develop and deliver training programmes linked to unit standards but geared toward adults with limited literacy and skills levels. I built facilitation skills and also gave lectures to environmental engineering students at the University of the Western Cape. My career expanded to include a focus on education, training and development.
Concurrently, I assisted in securing funds from the EPWP and Sustainable Coastal Livelihoods Programme, to help communities implement projects to develop small enterprises to create jobs and build sustainable local economies. Projects included multi-purpose resource centres, guesthouses, guided hiking trails, small-scale farming, working for the coast, wetland rehabilitation and clearing invasive alien plants. Through these activities I gained experience in project management, stakeholder engagement, community development, sustainable livelihood and small business development – linked to primarily to responsible tourism, natural resource management and sustainable farming. I also developed proposal and report writing skills.
Clients: Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism, DFID (British development agency); South African National Biodiversity Institute.
Along the way I had the opportunity to apply the experience I was gaining on the ground to help with policy development, regional planning and programmes in South Africa and Namibia. I also continued to do applied research – shifting into the realm of feasibility studies, mid-term reviews and assessing the impact of Programmes (monitoring & evaluation).
Clients: Fishing & Mariculture Development Association, Northern Cape Government, Environmental Evaluation Unit – University of Cape Town, PLAAS – University of Western Cape, Ukukhula and the Western Cape Tourism Dept., C.A.P.E. (Cape Action Plan for People & The Environment), GEF (Global Environment Facility), Hardap Regional Council, European Union, GOPA Environmental Consultants (Germany), UNOPS, BCLME Programme, Green Development Foundation, UNOPS, BCLME: Marine Litter Programme, Western Cape Department Environmental Affairs & Development Planning.
In 2006 I decided to step back from community development, review where I was heading and examine how I could use the expertise and experience I had gained to work in more mainstream environments. I captured what I had learned in an e-book called “The Business of Tomorrow” aimed at developing sustainable social enterprise. I found that NGO’s were particularly interested in my services both in terms of their own organizational development but also for the projects they implemented.
2007 - 2009
The next 3 years saw me consulting in my private capacity as a sole proprietor. I used my training, small business and proposal writing skills to help various organizations with business planning, project development and fundraising. I also used my ecological understanding and business experience to customize and deliver training to emerging social enterprises. My first consultation took me back to my roots – developing and delivering sustainable business plan training to the KEAG Coastcare team, which had created a small enterprise making and selling products from waste collected on beaches. I also kept a hand in regional planning supporting the Table Mountain Fund and World Wide Fund for Nature in South Africa to develop a Business model and plan for Conservation Capacity Building Unit on the Cape Peninsula. All the organizations I worked with were on a socially responsible, sustainable development journey.
Clients: LUD Womens National Consortium / Dept. Public Works, Kommetjie Environmental Awareness Group (1 emerging enterprise), Soil For Life (2 emerging enterprises), Far South Transport Services (driving school, courier, tourism), Gondwana Alive, Eternally Solar, SAFCEI, WESSA (Wildlife & Environmental Society of Southern Africa), Table Mountain Fund and World Wide Fund for Nature in SA.
2009 - 2019
I reached another turning point in my career in 2009. One of the organizations I had worked with was Gondwana Alive (GA). GA began as a project in 1998 and had evolved into an informal collection of like-minded people dedicated in their own way to addressing Climate Change and “Stemming the Sixth Extinction”. I assisted GA in developing a business plan and got drawn into helping set up and run GA as formal Non-Profit Company. Since this was and continues to be done on a voluntary basis, I also continue to consult privately and work in association with GA to raise grant funding to assist individuals and organizations that needed support but cannot not afford it.
2009 also saw me migrate back to working with vulnerable communities, albeit it in the role of mentor – providing strategic guidance and support (administrative, fundraising, training, technical) to influential individuals and organizations working at grassroots. This migration began when I worked as part of a team to assist the Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve and Southern Africa Development Bank to assess the feasibility and plan development of a network of trails to promote sustainable tourism in the Reserve, which forms part of the UN Man & Biosphere Programme. I later helped the Biosphere Reserve raise the funds to implement the plan and helped mentor a local team to set and run the trail network. My mentorship activities continued with the national Groen Sebenza green jobs mentorship programme.
Clients: Philanthropist Alex Anderson, Kommetjie Environmental Awareness Group, Grootvadersbos Conservancy, University of Cape Town, Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve, Southern Africa, Development Bank Swiss Ubuntu Foundation, Silimela Consortium / Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve / Development Bank Southern Africa, National Environmental Advisory Forum (NEAF), Environmental Evaluation Unit – University of Cape Town, Water Research Commission (2009 – 2010), SANCCOB, West Coast Fossil Park, !Khwa ttu, Ubuntu Foundation Switzerland, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) – National Treasury Jobs Fund, South South North, Conservation South Africa, UN Adaptation Fund.
Four years later in 2013, I began working with the Swiss Ubuntu Foundation to provide strategic guidance and support to !Khwa ttu San Culture & Education Centre and related heritage, conservation, training and tourism activities. This included implementing ‘Gearing for Growth’ and ‘San Heritage Centre’ projects – within the broader !Khwa ttu framework.
2019 sees me firmly established as part of the Ubuntu Foundation and !Khwa ttu team. I also continue to consult privately and in association with GA, volunteer my services as CEO of GA, and provide pro bono services to selected influential players and projects on GA’s behalf.
!KHWA TTU - INDIGENOUS SAN HERITAGE, CULTURE, CONSERVATION AND EDUCATION 2013-PRESENT
At first individually and then in association with Gondwana Alive, I was contracted by the Swiss Ubuntu Foundation and !Khwa ttu to provide strategic guidance, capacity building and support to the !Khwa ttu San Culture & Education Centre and related heritage, culture, tourism, conservation and livelihood projects. I am now an integral part of the Ubuntu / !Khwa ttu team and this work is continuing.
GROWGREEN – DEVELOPMENT OF A COMMUNITY STEWARD NETWORK 2013-PRESENT
This is a project I have developed and implement in partnership with Gondwana Alive. It focused on in-person, remote and on-line mentorship and training. The goal is to develop a global network of community stewards demonstrating, sensitizing and supporting others to adopt climate smart, sustainable practice. The intention is to create a grassroots social movement toward resilient communities, landscapes and seascapes. It involves distilling 25 years of experience into a sustainable livelihood development programme – including outreach, introductory training workshops and ongoing mentorship and support for community stewards (in-person or remotely).
BIODIVERSITY - HUMAN CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT & CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION 2013-2019
On behalf of Gondwana Alive I assisted with programme steering, and undertook project leadership, mentorship and training to support the Department of Environmental Affairs, South African National Biodiversity Institute and over 40 other Government, NGO, public, private, community and institutional partners – to implement “Groen Sebenza”, a green jobs mentorship project financed by the SA Presidential Jobs Fund, as well as a “Land & Livestock Adaptation” project financed by the UN Adaptation Fund.
CAPE WEST COAST BIOSPHERE RESERVE – TRAILS & TOURISM DEVELOPMENT 2009-2012
Individually and then in association with Gondwana Alive, I assisted with a feasibility study, secured financing and mentored development of a network of 5 slack-packing trails in support of sustainable development through the UN “Man & Biosphere” programme, with financing from the Development Bank of Southern Africa, Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve and SA National Lottery.
GONDWANA ALIVE - COASTAL STEWARDSHIP PROJECT 2009 – 2012
In association with Gondwana Alive and Kommetjie Environmental Awareness Group, I developed and implemented a coastal steward mentorship project. KEAG played an important role in initiating the Coastcare Programme I began my career with. The stewardship project looked at capacitating a small group of people to assist KEAG in continuing to care for the coast. The project was funded by philanthropist Alex Anderson and the SA National Lottery.
GONDWANA ALIVE – VOLUNTARY AND PRO BONO SERVICES 2009 - PRESENT
In association with Gondwana Alive I provide pro bono guidance and support (fundraising, administrative, marketing, technical) to the following influential people and projects:
Dr John Anderson (GA Founder & Director, Researcher) – Earth Alive, an ongoing scientific educational outreach to “Stem the Sixth Extinction” and promote biodiversity stewardship.
Jozua Lambrechts (GA Associate, Holistic Management Educator) – ongoing sustainable production, land and livestock adaptation education and training for farmers in southern and eastern Africa.
Therese Lambrechts (GA Fellow, Educator and Entrepreneur) – reducing the ecological footprint of business and schools, with a focus on renewable and sustainable energy training materials development and training for school teachers and children.
Ivan Groenhof (GA Director, Project Manager & Mentor) – quality control and mentorship of contractors clearing alien invasive trees to secure water in critical catchments for The Nature Conservancy source to sea water pilot projects.
Jenny Cullinan and Karin Sternberg (Ujubee) – wild bee research (bees for biodiversity) in the Cape Fynbos.
Laurence Kruger (researcher and educator), Nick King (environmental management), Ivan Groenhof, Ivan and Daniel Harris (land owners) – Nsasani Trust, Gondwana Alive and Baskloof Private Nature Reserve partnership initiative to secure land for conservation and experiential learning for young scientists from Africa and across the globe.
Richard Cock (GA Director, Conductor) – Silvermountain Music Festival celebrating music, appreciating nature, engaging youth and community in the Overberg mountains.
Aileen, Alex and Jenny Anderson (GA fellow, previous GA Chairperson and Director) – Grootvadersbos Conservancy eco-trail development and natural resource management forest and fynbos rehabilitation projects.
Etienne Basson, Noloyiso Gwangqa, Mandlakazi Mgwebi, Sheree-Ann Jooste (GA Groen Sebenza alumni) – ongoing guidance and support for their various entrepreneurial greening, natural resource management, environmental education and management, trail, tourism and social media initiatives. This includes a Gondwana Kids initiative led by Etienne Basson in association with Photo Start to provide photography and life skills training to the emerging Rietfontein School hiking club, which will assist with trail monitoring in support of citizen science research.