View from Canopy - HoB Newsletter August 2013 issue
By: Dr. Tom Maddox
This month’s view from the canopy follows a hectic few weeks touring the European and US donor offices presenting the latest developments in the evolution of the new Heart of Borneo strategy for WWF, so it seems a timely moment to summarise the current thinking to our newsletter readers.
Following the advice of the internal and external reviews of the HoB Global Initiative last year, the new strategy focuses on demonstrating ‘proof of concept’ of the green economy approaches outlined in the Rio Heart of Borneo report. Concentrating on the fields of policy, business and civil society the strategy sets out a range of succinct, measurable, ambitious and time bound targets by 2020.
To implement these targets, the strategy also takes into account the recommendations that WWF has to engage more widely if its ambitions are to be realised. The three governments need to be empowered to take up the baton of leadership more clearly and the essential roles other organisations play in working towards the HoB vision need to be recognised and supported where possible.
However, the immediate focus is to get WWF’s own ‘house in order’. Within the Heart of Borneo numerous WWF entities are at work. The national offices of Indonesia and Malaysia represent the key players on the ground, with their national strategies already addressing many of the key requirements of the HoB region. The Global Initiative represents an additional permanent presence in the region whilst, on top of this, Borneo represents a key site for other, externally based GIs, such as the Market Transformation initiative and the Forest Carbon initiative as well as the target for activities from the international forests, freshwater and species programmes. The potential impact of these resources combined in the HoB could be huge, but their individual roles and activities need to be defined and mutually understood to a far better level. Currently, too many of us are approaching our related, but not sufficiently coordinated, goals from the safety of our own silos.
The HoB GI is in by far the best position to achieve this coordination, so setting an overall, agreed WWF goal that feeds into the trilateral vision as well as working with individual WWF entities to define their individual contributions to this goal is a priority for the rest of this year. WWF national offices are expected to focus on HoB targets that are key to their national priorities. The GI will then focus more on addressing the areas the national strategies don’t cover, providing the regional perspective and conducting the activities that no one else needs to do. Only when WWF is clear its own resources are being maximised in the HoB can we turn to facilitating a strengthened position for government and supporting other organisations in the region.
Achieving this improved integration has begun with the new strategic objectives which are largely drawn directly from the National strategic plans for Kalimantan, Sabah and Sarawak. The new strategy will be implemented by a more integrated staffing structure, ensuring everyone who works in Borneo is represented to some level in the HoB management and the final aspects of the strategy will be finalised following an internal WWF HoB conference including all relevant players.
Whilst such structural reform may seem a long way from boots-on-the-ground field conservation, I believe this is a necessary, if tedious, first step to maximising our on the ground effectiveness. Coming from a much smaller NGO, the potential might of WWF in a given area has blown me away. But our strength as a network can also be our weakness if not managed carefully. By identifying and focusing on individual entities’ key competencies and strengths, the HoB reforms mirror to some degree many of the reforms also underway at an international level through the Truly Global process described in my last post.