Jonathan Baillie, ex EVP and Chief Scientist of National Geographic Society, has been appointed CEO of On The Edge Conservation – the foundation that uses media combined with the cutting edge technology to reconnect humanity with the natural world.
Using his 26 years of global conservation experience, Baillie will develop OTEC’s strategy for media content and technology, the primary aim of which is to inspire young activists to value, champion and secure the world’s diverse species and ecosystems.
Baillie succeeds OTEC’s Founder, Beth Blood who last year oversaw the organisation’s launch of the world’s first virtual influencers aimed at kids. Beth will remain Chair of On the Edge Conservation.
Featuring a series of animal characters - humanised by the latest motion capture techniques – OTEC’s virtual influencers vlog weekly on YouTube to engage young audiences with their cool lifestyles, whilst also voicing their predicament as EDGE species.
Jonathan joins OTEC following an extensive career spanning major, conservation not-for profits including the National Geographic Society, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and remains President of the Board of US-based, NATURAL STATE.
An early career highlight for Baillie includes his instrumental contributions to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals from 1996 to 2007. The IUCN Red List is the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of species.
Jonathan also co-founded the EDGE of Existence Programme – a science-based agenda designed to highlight the world’s most Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species. On the Edge Conservation is committed to the preservation of several of the EDGE species found on the list.
More recently, in collaboration with the Wyss Foundation, Baillie initiated and launched one of the most successful and ambitious campaigns for the natural world, aiming to protect 30% of the planet by 2030. This has now been adopted by countries around the world.
This past year, with the support of the Scheinberg Relief Fund, he spearheaded the Wildlife Ranger Challenge to help keep rangers across Africa employed during the COVID 19 crises. It was the largest campaign to date for rangers, raising over 10 million dollars and supported over 9,000 rangers in 119 protected areas.
'It is a great honour to be joining On The Edge Conservation as CEO. There has never been a more important time for people to understand, value and protect the diversity of life. OTEC is a leading media and technology company for nature using innovative storytelling to connect people with the natural world. I am looking forward to working with the world’s leading storytellers, conservationists and technologists to help redefine our relationship with nature, and convey the important message of wildlife conservation through its vital work in the kid’s media space.
We are thrilled to welcome Jonathan to the team at OTEC. As a founding trustee of the organization, Jonathan has a thorough understanding of how we work and through his wealth of experience in conservation, he can make a valuable contribution to the team. During his remarkable career, Jonathan has spotted a disconnect between the younger generation and the stories we need to tell from our natural world. In joining OTEC, he unites with our mission of using cutting-edge media and technology to reconnect humanity with nature and protect the diversity of life’’
On the EDGE Conservation uses media combined with the cutting-edge technology to reconnect humanity with the natural world. Through storytelling and providing support for innovative conservation action and science, we strive for game-changing impact around the world. Our approach is designed to inspire positive engagement in both adults and the next generation.
Jonathan Baillie is the founder of NATRUAL STATE, a technology focused conservation organization aiming to measure the impact of protection and restoration efforts globally. Baillie was previously Executive Vice President and Chief Scientist at the National Geographic Society where he oversaw grants, impact initiatives, National Geographic Labs, explorer programs, and the international team. He was also the Vice Chair of the Society’s Committee for Research and Exploration.
Previous to National Geographic Society, Baillie was at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) where he served as Conservation Programmes Director, leading projects on threatened species and their habitats in over 50 countries. At ZSL he founded the EDGE of Existence Programme, focusing on evolutionarily distinct and globally endangered species. He also helped initiate United for Wildlife, led by the Duke of Cambridge, a collaboration of seven of the most influential conservation organizations working to address illegal wildlife trade at scale.
Early in his career, Baillie worked with a network of 8,000 scientists to produce the first International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of threatened species to define the status of all mammals. Subsequently, his work has been fundamental in understanding the status and trends of the world’s vertebrates and invertebrates as well as its major ecosystems.
He completed his undergraduate studies in geography at Queen’s University in Canada and received a Masters in conservation biology from Yale University followed by a Ph.D. in biology from Imperial College London.
Baillie has conducted extensive fieldwork, including researching and monitoring western lowland gorillas in Gabon, developing ecotourism sites in central Africa, conducting behavioural studies of desert baboons in Namibia, and searching for extremely rare endemic species such as Attenborough’s Echidna in the Cyclops Mountains, the wild Bactrian camel in the Gobi desert or the Principe Thrush in the Gulf of Guinea. Baillie has been a visiting professor at the University of Oxford since 2009.