Leveraging International Conservation Efforts Through Negotiation, Engagement, and Strategic Planning

CBI has facilitated and helped to design multiple WWF dialogues aimed at developing environmentally and socially responsible production standards for commodities and goods including farmed seafood, beef, and timber. We’ve also helped WWF, a leading conservation organization, with strategic planning across global offices and programs.

Background and Challenges

Over the last 50 years, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has grown into one of the largest and most respected independent conservation organizations — supported by over 5 million people, active in over 100 countries, and with over $1 billion invested in 12,000+ conservation initiatives. During this time, its efforts have evolved from localized projects to conserve single species and individual habitats, to ambitious strategies to preserve biodiversity and achieve sustainable development across the globe.

WWF's offices — located in over 40 countries — undertake various environmental conservation efforts ranging from practical field projects, scientific research, advising local and national governments on policy, promoting education, and raising awareness of critical issues. Together, these offices form a Network that operates as a team to carry out the WWF mission.

In the early 2000s, the WWF Network developed 13 priority Global Initiatives — focused on species-specific, regional, and policy challenges intended to conserve biodiversity and reduce human impact on nature. Among these efforts, WWF turned its attention to the interrelationship between growing market demand for food, fiber and fuel, the increasing strain on the planet’s natural resources, and the impact on biodiversity depending on where and how companies and their supply chains obtain and process these vital commodities.

To effectively address these issues, WWF needed highly collaborative, creative solutions built on global strategies and multi-stakeholder initiatives that included the private sector and advocacy groups. In this context, WWF asked CBI assist with its ‘Aquaculture Dialogues’ as an impartial facilitator. The Dialogues encouraged environmentally and socially responsible production by developing voluntary farm-level standards for 12 key species – including salmon, shrimp, tilapia, and fresh-water trout.

WWF has since tapped CBI to assist in the design and facilitation of other dialogues and multi-stakeholder initiatives, as well help diverse offices strengthen high impact strategies.

The CBI Approach

CBI has used its expertise in mutual gains negotiation, multi-party collaboration, and consensus building to help dialogue participants develop credible and scientifically grounded standards. 

WWF convened the Aquaculture Dialogues to build an eco-label based on standards that would have broad credibility among environmental and social advocates, as well as buy-in from leading market actors. The initiative was unprecedented in the aquaculture industry, required extensive stakeholder consultation and a scientifically grounded negotiation between advocates and industry players.

CBI applied its expertise in multi-party negotiation to guide Dialogue participants through a structured process of developing standards. Some participants were more accustomed to being adversaries than working collaboratively on a joint initiative. CBI also facilitated public meetings globally and assisted the Dialogues to conduct meaningful consultation, even in the face of public controversy around the issues.

CBI has brought this same expertise to other dialogue initiatives, including efforts to create standards around beef, fresh water use, palm oil, and timber.

Inside the organization, CBI has helped diverse WWF teams come together around common objectives. Examples of our work include:

  • Building common protocols, procedures and unified strategy for the Global Forest Trade Network Initiative, as well as Forest and Climate Programming;
  • Private sector partnership development with the beef and dairy industry; and
  • Strategic planning for the Tx2 Tiger Initiative.

Results

CBI helps WWF reach difficult conservation goals amid increasing global pressures, scientific complexity, and uncertainty by leveraging collaboration, partnership and joint value creation with colleagues and counterparts.

Our work with WWF has led to consensus-based support for key commodity standards and stronger negotiation approaches on key conservation issues at the global stage.   

We have empowered WWF staff to apply negotiation and consensus-building skills to their work, to create options for joint gain with partners, and to institutionalize key strategies for collaboration. 

From this broad array of work, a key insight emerges. Reaching difficult conservation goals amid increasing global pressures, scientific complexity, and uncertainty often requires advocates to leverage collaboration, partnership and joint value creation with colleagues and counterparts. Absent this kind of approach, our collective chances of achieving the ‘big wins’ for both planet and people are significantly diminished. 

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons/woychukb