The Charles Darwin Foundation presents its Strategic Plan and first Impact Report during its 51st General Assembly meeting

Press release- October 4th 2022, Quito. - The Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) presented its 5-yr Strategic Plan and first Impact Report during its 51st Annual General Assembly. The meeting was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Quito, Ecuador, on the 3rd and 4th of October, and presided by its new President, Yolanda Kakabadse

More than 60 members of the general assembly were in attendance (in person and virtually), including members of the Board of Directors, local and national authorities, donors, collaborators, scientists and researchers.

Members of the Board of Directors at the 51st Annual General Assembly of the CDF. Photo: Joshua Vela, CDF
Members of the Board of Directors at the 51st Annual General Assembly of the CDF. Photo: Joshua Vela, CDF

Strategic Plan 2022-2027
The Strategic Plan, which sets the course for the Charles Darwin Foundation and its Research Station for the period 2022-2027, is framed around six core pillars, all designed to better position the foundation to address today’s challenges. The pillars include diversifying CDF’s research agenda, establishing new alliances or strengthening of existing ones, improving the research station’s infrastructure, strengthening fundraising efforts, improving organizational efficiency, and working closely with the local community.

CDF’s Executive Director Dr. Rakan Zahawi commented: “Given the great conservation challenges we face, it is more important than ever that we further our scientific understanding of the Galapagos islands, and that we do so in a focused manner so as to effect lasting and transformative change. Over the coming years, we plan to not only build upon our many successes in Galapagos but also expand our research portfolio throughout the Eastern Tropical Pacific region in order to meet the multitude of challenges that this iconic archipelago faces today." 

From left to right: CDF Executive Director Rakan Zahawi, new CDF Board President Yolanda Kakabadse and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility Juan Carlos Holguín. Photo: Joshua Vela, CDF.
From left to right: CDF Executive Director, Rakan Zahawi; new CDF Board President, Yolanda Kakabadse and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Juan Carlos Holguín. Photo: Joshua Vela, CDF.

Impact Report 2021

The Charles Darwin Foundation also launched its first Impact Report, which provides an account of the work carried out by its researchers during 2021. This document, which replaces the Annual Report, shares the more salient results of the 18 marine and terrestrial projects carried out by the CDF in 2021, as well as information on the work carried out together with the Galapagos community.

One of the highlights of the report includes the successful real-time tracking by our shark ecology team of a pregnant female hammerhead shark, named Cassiopeia, who was recorded by our scientists going back and forth over a 4,000 km distance between Galapagos and Panama.

Another highlight of interest, this time from our land birds’ team, are the eight new Vermilion Flycatchers that flew the nest, a record in recent years. Vermilion Flycatchers are a critically endangered species on Santa Cruz Island, consisting of a mere 50 or so individuals. This ambitious and collaborative experimental management program was led by CDF, the Galapagos National Park Directorate and the University of Vienna, among other institutions, with the aim to reduce the impact of invasive species on this emblematic bird.

“People that care about conservation in the Galapagos want to know how we are progressing in our research and our work, which is why we redesigned what used to be our Annual Report in a more tangible way. Our Impact Report not only provides more color and insight into our varied projects, but holds us more accountable through the data we report on, which is key as we progress our work,” added Dr. Zahawi

Participants at the 51st Annual General Assembly of the Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands. Photo: Joshua Vela, CDF.
Participants at the 51st Annual General Assembly of the Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands. Photo: Joshua Vela, CDF.

Panel discussion on marine conservation
In addition, the General Assembly featured a panel discussion titled "Marine Conservation in Galapagos: Past, Present and Future.” The discussion, which featured a diverse panel, fostered a dialogue with members of the General Assembly on how lessons from the past can allow us to improve the management and design of marine conservancy in light of the new Hermandad Marine Reserve, created in January 2022.

Panel participants included the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility, Ambassador Luis Vayas; the Vice Minister of Environment, Water and Ecological Transition, José Dávalos; the President of the Governing Council of the Special Regime of Galapagos, Katherine Llerena; Yolanda Kakabadse and Rakan Zahawi, respectively President and Executive Director of the Charles Darwin Foundation; and Stuart Banks, marine scientist of the Charles Darwin Foundation.

"Ecuador is a leading force in marine conservation, as well as in the fight against the triple planetary crisis which includes climate change, loss of biodiversity and pollution, particularly plastic pollution. Meaningful change is possible when friendly states within our region collaborate, which is why we promote joint strategies to face challenges of this scale.” - Ambassador Luis Vayas

Panelists at the
Panelists at the "Marine Conservation in Galapagos: Past, Present, and Future" discussion. Photo: Joshua Vela, CDF.

"Security and health go hand in hand. We can't have healthy people if our oceans aren’t healthy. We must continue to dialogue about issues in our oceans, and above all, collaborate to find solutions." - Yolanda Kakabadse

"Galapagos is one of the few places in which the community lives within a protected area, which raises more challenges for conservation. Education of our communities is absolutely key to successfully co-habit with nature." - Katherine Llerena.

Notes to editors Read more about the new President of the Board of Directors
Download the 2021 Impacts Report

For more information, please contact:
Isabel Grijalva
Communications Coordinator
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
+593 98 440 0328

About the Charles Darwin Foundation
The Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands (CDF) is an international non-profit organization dedicated to scientific research. CDF has been present in Galapagos since 1959, thanks to an agreement with the Government of Ecuador, and maintains partnerships with government agencies to provide knowledge and support through scientific research to ensure the conservation of the environment and biodiversity of the Galapagos Archipelago. This organization employs more than 130 people, 53.08% of whom work in the science area. Currently, more than 25 projects are being carried out and more than 100,000 specimens are housed in the  Natural History Collections.

About the CDF General Assembly
The Charles Darwin Foundation's General Assembly meeting has been held yearly since 1971 to allow the organization's highest authorities to learn more about the results of the work carried out during the current year and to make decisions for the execution of its projects and plans for the coming period.


The mission of the Charles Darwin Foundation and its Research Station is to tackle the greatest threats and challenges to Galapagos through scientific research and conservation action, in order to safeguard one of the world’s most important natural treasures.

Sign up to the latest news

* required

Sign up to the latest news

* required


Av. Charles Darwin s/n, Puerto Ayora, Galápagos, Ecuador
(593) 5 2526-146 / 2527-013 Ext 101
Quito Office
Francisco Andrade Marín
E6-122 y Av. Eloy Alfaro
+593 (2) 2 231 174

The ‘Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands’, in French ‘Fondation Charles Darwin pour les îles Galapagos”, Association internationale sans but lucratif (AISBL), has its registered office at 54 Avenue Louise, 1050 Brussels, Belgium. Trade Registry # 0409.359.103

© 2023 Charles Darwin Foundation. All rights reserved.