Molly Crystal
Global Panda Labs Coordinator
Panda Labs
Building a community for innovators in conservation - Panda Labs
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Panda Labs creates a space for experimentation and collaboration among innovators within WWF to experiment with new ideas, new partnerships, and new funding models. We co-create solutions to the world’s most complex and urgent conservation problems. The Panda Labs community links teams around the world to share learning and materials, celebrate successes, and support each other in achieving a global, vision-driven community trying to drive meaningful impact.

Panda Labs is a global, decentralized innovation lab that experiments with possible solutions to challenging complex and urgent conservation problems. We experiment with new technologies, new partnerships, and funding models.

What kind of impact (on society, on the planet, on the members of your community) are you trying to achieve as a community?

We seek solutions to conservation, environmental, climate problems that are human-focused and achieve genuine impact while being meaningful and sustainable. We aim to change the way that large organisations (like WWF), businesses, and communities approach conservation.

We experiment with new ideas, new partnerships, and new funding models to change “business as usual”. We aim to develop solutions that can help to keep up with the scale and severity of the current environmental crisis. Our impacts are intended to be both social and environmental and, in the long term, to transform local and global systems that influence conservation, communities, and the environment.

How are you achieving this impact? What are concrete activities you do?


  • Create a methodology to support / implement innovations in conservation in a way that is intended to truly address top conservation priorities (the most complex and urgent conservation problems), and promote meaningful co-creation of innovative and robust ideas.
  • Build a team or network of practitioners who support each other and contribute to a shared body of knowledge and learning.
  • Build and support the capacity of teams on the ground to follow the methodology to innovate possible new solutions and experiment with new partnerships and funding models; to develop solutions and to test , validate , scale, and replicate those that work.

The ideas underlying Panda Labs began in one country (Australia) and then expanded into other countries. Since its beginning, the community has expanded, developed and worked through processes of impact and inspiration. Successes of one team inspired members of other teams to undertake similar activities. Since then, the community has grown through a process of natural expansion with individuals linking to each other and supporting each other.

We are united by a common interest and sharing learning and support wherever possible. The successes and learnings of one team are intimately linked to the activities of other teams. We all guide, support, and inform each other while we simultaneously do what we can towards achieving our ultimate purpose. We are united by the common methodology and approach of the overall Panda Labs community.

We strongly believe that through community, it’s possible to achieve the successes we want to achieve: uncovering solutions to the most pressing, complex, and urgent social and environmental problems facing our generation.

What is your recipe for success?

Our recipe for success begins with people and a purpose. This community started with a team of passionate, committed individuals united by a shared idea and values. We had essentially no additional resources and minimal structure or materials.

Our purpose is at the heart of what we do, and it unites and drives us. But we would be nowhere without the people who make up our community. Not only acting as individuals but connecting to each other as a united, passionate, committed team who are stronger together because of their combined resources, skills, competencies, connections ,and perspectives.

Collaboration and co-creation are integral parts of what we do. Arguably, our mission for how we will achieve our vision is a key part of our purpose. We are committed to finding innovative and successful solutions to serious problems, and we believe that we are best able to do this as a team.

As we are growing, the need for structure has become more important. In order to function efficiently and effectively, we are now at a phase where we are creating a platform where our community can operate. The platform will include:

  • Guidelines for implementation.
  • Standards for quality control.
  • Platforms for collaboration and communication, including sharing learning and supporting each other.