A workshop’s got to reach the innovation level: successful international biodiversity workshop in Brasilia


I’ve just had the pleasure to facilitate a three-day workshop for 80 country delegates from all over the world on how to revise their national strategies on biodiversity. It was a pleasure not just because of the excellent hosts (UK and Brazilian governments), the friendly and intelligent participants and being in Brazil for the first time. It was a particular pleasure because I believe the workshop achieved the level of dialogue and learning which makes for real value: analysis, self-critical reflection and joint innovation. Because I believe that all participants were able to take back not only knowledge and ideas, but the will, confidence and motivation to change important things about the way they will strategically and tactically approach saving biodiversity.

How did this happen? I think there are 4 main reasons (and a lot of other smaller ones):

  1. Adequate time, space and knowledge to reflect on established views and explore new ideas in small groups and plenary
  2. Participant diversity: being jogged out of your comfort zone forces you to question and learn
  3. Logical build-up of the workshop: taking participants to increasing levels of complexity step by step and providing them with
    1. constant, bite-sized syntheses to use as the basis for the next level
    2. clear and challenging questions to steer their thoughts and dialogues to focus on results
  4. The element of surprise: it’s not only fun, but also a real eye-opener to look at “old” issues and challenges from a different and unusual angle, i.e.:
    1. a TV talk show including 4 participants from the year 2020, where they report back on the most important decisions they took, how they managed to overcome barriers and what they are most proud of having achieved
    2. 3 participants take on roles of secretariat staff of the Convention on Biological Diversity and discuss what they’re going to do, how they’re going to do it and what they’ll need in order for countries to speed up their efforts to meet the stategic goals

It’s great how much you can achieve with a diverse group of professionals. Thank you to all who helped to make this a milestone in getting to implementation of the strategic plan, particularly the UK team from DEFRA and the Davids from the CBD and also thanks to Roberto Cavalcanti, the Brazilian Co-Chair, for showing us the amazing city of Brazilia by night and for reminding us of the wealth of biodiversity on our earth. It was also great that Braulio Ferreira De Souza Dias, who’s just become Executive Secretary of the CBD spent so much time at the workshop!

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