Alivio Bioversity and CIAT private sector engagement program reorganizes to scale activities

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The program Catalyzing and Learning through Private Sector Engagement for Biodiversity Conservation (CAL-PSE) is one of the main initiatives of the Bioversity Alliance and CIAT in Brazil. It was developed in 2017 in partnership with USAID, and seeks to transform the way in which biodiversity conservation in the Amazon is approached, while at the same time improving the quality of life of the peoples of the region.

The project started with just one person on the team in Brazil, to coordinate implementation with USAID and partners. This pilot phase lasted until 2020, led by Wendy Francesconi: “We wanted to test this“ out-of-the-box ”approach to biodiversity conservation when working with the private sector, testing its interest in being part of the co-design of solutions that would lead to change, ”said Francesconi.

During this period, the Alliance facilitated the implementation of Partners for the Amazon Platform (PPA), an initiative led by the private sector to promote sustainable development. PPA has carried out an effective acceleration program for small and medium impact initiatives. The Alliance also participated in the co-design and invested in Althelia Biodiversity Fund (ABF), which supports economic models that promote biodiversity conservation. Through CAL-PSE, Aliança is contributing technical expertise to develop monitoring solutions that allow for regular project management, as well as long-term impacts.

“Initial results show the willingness of the private sector to contribute knowledge, time, expertise, and in some specific cases, financing. At the same time, the acceleration program showed the need for initiatives that support economic models to promote the conservation of forests, biodiversity and the interests of local communities. Based on these encouraging results, we had enough momentum to move on to a complete program approach. Transforming the pilot into a long-term program meant scaling up activities by articulating different actors, partnerships and geographies, which meant having a more robust and strategically structured team, ”explained Francesconi.

At the end of 2020, the small CAL-PSE team was restructured, bringing in new talent. Fábio Deboni, an experienced social investment manager, was chosen as Director, to support the construction of the program and increase his focus on the private sector. The approach is innovative for the Alliance, and is in line with the organization's new strategy.

“Bringing the private sector to conserve biodiversity is a key step in promoting lasting change in the Amazon and scaling up effective initiatives. This new phase of CAL-PSE takes place at a very interesting moment in the Alliance, with new strategic guidelines that are close to the objectives of CAL-PSE ”, said Deboni”. "Brazil is a relatively new country for the Alliance, so there is a lot of potential for growth, building new partnerships and initiatives in the country".

Team development during the pandemic

Structuring and integrating a new team can be difficult, but the pandemic has made the challenge even greater.

“We have members in different countries, different cities, working in a totally virtual way. Given the complexity of the program, it is challenging to capture the wealth of knowledge from Wendy and other team members remotely. We are developing a cohesive structure, and establishing clear review processes in addition to implementing the agreed plans. We have a highly motivated and experienced team, with a shared vision, which makes the process easier ”, explained Deboni.