The Amazon is a biodiversity hotspot, critical to many of Earth’s ecosystems. However, the forest faces increasing threats from illegal activities, as well as economic pressure from extractive businesses. Combined with the existing approaches, private sector participation in preservation is key to push the move to sustainable industries that also bring development to the population in the Amazon. Business can have a lead role in promoting change, bringing financial resources and innovation that can improve the viability, sustainability, and scalability of development efforts.
In 2019, the Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT came together with USAID to develop a unique partnership program to foster engagement with the private sector. The Catalyzing and Learning through Private Sector Engagement for Biodiversity Conservation (CAL-PSE) program aims to transform the way we approach conservation in the Brazilian Amazon, while improving the wellbeing of indigenous people and local communities. CAL-PSE is implemented through a co-creation and co-investing approach by CIAT along with a network of local partners and private sector actors in Brazil.
By mobilizing private sector companies’ active participation in the implementation of sustainable development activities and financing, the program seeks to galvanize action from business to change the way the approach biodiversity conservation and increase their activities in those issues.
Through CAL-PSE, CIAT and USAID jointly facilitate the Partnership Platform for the Amazon (PPA), a private sector-led platform, and other innovative PSE partnerships that are promoting and co-investing in sustainable business models, as well as economic opportunities that strengthen the sustainable production and commercialization of local products, hence giving economic value to activities that conserve healthy forests, habitats, and natural resources. Over time, legally and financially viable sustainable livelihoods and products are expected to displace illegal and unsustainable ones that cause deforestation and biodiversity loss.
The Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT are also the corner-stone investors and co-creators of the Althelia Biodiversity Fund (ABF). ABF Brazil is a Brazilian impact investment fund (Fundo de Investimento em Participações – FIP), with Mirova Natural Capital as the investment advisor operating under its brand name, Althelia Funds, and Vox Capital as the fund administrator. The fund intends to address inherent financial challenges by providing flexible, long-term, patient capital for sustainable businesses that seek transformational, positive impact on Amazonian biodiversity and communities.
There needs to be clear evidence of the impact of conservation initiatives by the private sector. Businesses need data and information about the efficacy of their corporate social environmental initiatives, and co-investors need proof of the biodiversity return of their investments.
Through CAL-PSE, the Alliance and CIAT are using its technical expertise to develop monitoring solutions that allow both day to day management of the projects as well as long term impact. This will ensure that our shared private sector networks are accountable, make informed decisions, manage adaptively, communicate learning and impact, which in turn mobilize investments and commitments. The program also aims to identify innovative models and practices of private sector partnerships, fostering scale-up replication of successful initiatives.
The systematic application of a Monitoring and Evaluation for Learning agenda is being developed through the design and application of targeted multidisciplinary research tools and methodologies. These are meant to monitor and assess the process of private sector engagement as a strategy for achieving biodiversity conservation and sustainable development, while also measuring the potential impacts that the distinct and combined initiatives may have on the communities involved, the territories affected, the value chains targeted, and the overall local and regional socioeconomic factors.