Developing a Communications Strategy for the Vilcabamba-Amboró Corridor

In Focus, June 2002

Creating a broad, local constituency for biodiversity conservation goals is a major challenge but vital to ensure the success and sustainability of efforts. One major piece of a CEPF-funded project to meet the challenge in the Tropical Andes is a collaborative communications strategy development process that has proven successful in numerous countries.

The three-year Conservation International (CI) project focuses on developing and implementing a binational communications campaign to build awareness of the importance of the Vilcabamba Amboró conservation corridor, an area of high biodiversity straddling the Bolivia-Peru border.

The project centerpiece is the 4-P Creative Workshop, a participatory event to create a communications strategy to raise awareness about a particular issue, region or protected area. CI has conducted the workshop more than 20 times in multiple languages in countries such as Brazil, Ghana, Madagascar and Indonesia.

Its name originates from the workshop's main sections: Problems, Publics, Products and Plan. Participants identify and analyze these components and create an action plan that CI, its partners and local stakeholders can implement.

As part of the project, CI's International Communications department facilitated a national 4-P workshop in Bolivia in April and another in Peru in late May. The results were informed by baseline quantitative studies already conducted in both countries to determine existing knowledge of the corridor and attitudes of key audiences.

CI will soon hold a meeting to consolidate the national plans into a corridor-wide strategy to be implemented as part of a new CEPF-funded communications program.

"Our challenge is to work at the corridor scale, across geopolitical boundaries," says CI Planning and Strategy Manager Robin Abadia. "But the footprint of communications is national, so while the two national plans need to be complementary, we make sure they target the right audience. The communications approach must be cross-seeded and cohesive, but appropriate to each particular country."

The national workshops attracted dozens of participants from both countries, including protected area officials, local conservation organizations, journalists, educators and others.