Central America and the Caribbean exchange experiences in engaging the private sector

 Through the screen of a video camera, one sees a man sitting on a chair in front of a green background.

Workshop for the exchange of experience in cooperation with the private sector on climate protection and biodiversity.

In November 2022, around 100 representatives of cooperation projects, partners, and stakeholders including academia, NGOs, and the private sector from 15 countries in the region got together to share experiences in integrating the private sector in their cooperation projects and engaging it in climate and biodiversity action.

“The private sector is key for leveraging private investments; there are multiple wins for economy, employment, and the environment. It is usually a hub for innovation and locally adapted solutions, and it is a partner for social acceptance that, at the same time, promotes sustainability”, stated Annelie Janz-Huber, policy officer at BMWK, during her opening remarks. She explained how currently around 13% of IKI projects in implementation focus on private sector engagement and encouraged participants to integrate this key player actively in their projects.

Deep dive: Challenges and barriers

A woman sits on a high chair, a large television hangs on the wall next to her.
Irela Fornaguera facilitates a workshop on cooperation with the private sector.

The first half of the workshop focused on technical exchanges: participants divided into groups to continue the discussion on a number of challenges for private sector engagement. These had been identified during the annual exchange workshop for IKI Central America and the Caribbean in May 2022.

To better improve the sector’s knowledge of the impact of climate change on its business and the opportunities that the integration of climate change and the sustainable use of biodiversity can create, projects have an important role in developing and disseminating data, i.e. regarding potential alignment with national and international climate targets and fostering knowledge management.

At the same time, IKI projects are required to improve their own knowledge on the needs and strengths of the private sector and learn to speak the sector’s language. Projects should develop criteria for private sector collaboration to guide their work. Additionally, financial mechanisms are required to encourage subsectors to engage in climate and biodiversity action.

Participants noted that IKI projects play an important role in creating mechanisms and providing funding; they should be positioned as investors rather than funders.

Experience exchange: Lessons learned in the region

In addition to the technical discussion, the workshop’s other main objective was to share experiences from the region in successful cooperation with the private sector. 10 IKI projects, as well as two BMZ-financed and one EU-financed project, presented lessons learned and results of cooperation in different subsectors -including agriculture, livestock, forestry, industry- and shared experiences in working with large, medium, small companies and even start-ups.

The experiences shared were diverse regarding their thematic focus, the type of private sector engagement, and the country they stem from. The thematic discussion helped to deepen the understanding of the challenges faced by the cooperation projects, but also by the private sector itself - and thus to improve cooperation.

Innovative: Workshop format was 100% virtual – with a twist

Its innovative format directly responded to one of the main difficulties the first regional IKI interface project faces: Due to the distribution of its target group among over 20 countries, in-person workshops are challenging to organize and sometimes complicated for participants to assist to. As a result, the workshop was held fully virtually to allow all interested parties to participate. At the same time, the organization team and technical support staff created an in-person command centre with a series of set pieces in San José, Costa Rica. This helped create a different experience to what virtual exchange formats usually offer: Instead of the typical atmosphere of everyone joining from their office, kitchen, or living room, several key players participated from the command centre. Opening and closing remarks were held in front of a green screen, and an in-person talk show allowed for a more dynamic and personal exchange format. Finally, having the support staff close by allowed to quickly reacting to potential technical issues any virtual event can face.

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Recording of the workshop

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