A conversation with Cristianne Close, Market Specialist at WWF Global Market Practice
Cristianne Close will be giving an inspiring rapid fire talk on “How can business do good?” at the TFF Summit.
In her role as Market Specialist at WWF Global Market Practice she focuses specifically on innovation in new business models for conservation and increase market access for community enterprises at the verge of conservation areas. Cristianne has over 18 years of experience working on sustainability, agriculture, strategy and business development.
For the last ten years, she has focused on sustainable agriculture working in companies and foundations to directly design, develop and implement projects on the ground with farmers.
Tell us about yourself, your mission with your work at WWF and how it’s connected with TFF?
I am a Brazilian/Argentine national, 42 years old, married and mother of two toddlers, Olivia and Nicolas. I have a global role at WWF and live in the island of Florianopolis in Brazil. I travel around the world for work but manage to have a good balance by doing home office and being able to be close to my family every day. Through my personal and professional life I have lived and worked in Latin America, Europe, Africa and India; I worked with smallholder farmers on value chain projects, with large farmers in certification projects and with Afro-American coastal communities in the jungle in Colombia.
As a Latin American women I had to work very hard and manage several trade offs to become an active global citizen working to find solutions to some of the most challenging problems in the world, such as food security, biodiversity conservation, deforestation-free value chains, community livelihood improvement and long term sustainability.
At WWF I work to develop sustainable food systems that conserve biodiversity while ensuring food and nutrition security now and in the future. It is about working in the food system as a whole to assure we don’t destroy our planet while we try to feed its population. Food production is responsible for 70% of the biodiversity loss of the planet so if we want to achieve conservation we need to innovate and find solutions around food and agriculture production, for large and small farmers, in all regions of the world.
Could you give an insight into your previous work and what your most relevant key takeaways and learnings are?
I have worked in large corporations and small organizations. I have always considered myself an intrapreneur. I like to find new solutions, develop partnerships and innovate in complex situations with important issues to solve to improve and impact people’s livelihoods. Working in Food and Agricultural matters is something very noble, it is about putting food in people’s plates but also about sustaining the natural resources so that we are able to provide food to new generations. I want my children to be able to enjoy the planet as I did. This is something that everybody can connect to and we need to find systems solutions so that all stakeholders understand the complexity and that we are all part of the problem and the solution.
Where do you see the current challenges in the food & ag space, and the relevance of Non Profits like WWF and new, innovative business models?
We need to achieve three very important things: produce food sustainably, reduce food loss & waste (currently about 30% of the food produced is either lost or wasted), and shift our diets to healthier and more sustainable sources. WWF and other NGOs have a key role to provide the system approach and convene players to develop the solutions that will allow for these issues to be addressed. Innovation in business models is the only way for us to achieve the SDG agenda which is closely linked to the challenges I described.
Why and where do you see the role of the next-generation coming into play?
New generations need to use their voice and their talent to activate solutions and to bring the billions in the world into a new model of consumption. If we continue eating, wasting and producing as today we are doomed. The next generation with either see how the world saves itself or be the witness of how we ignore the signs and destroy our collective well-being. It does not matter if you are in Asia or Africa, the US or Brazil young people connect and get things viral. We need to use that power for the greater “good”. We need to share a positive angle to all of this and make it fun. That is what the next-generation needs to do, how to make all this conservation and food security matters cool and therefore increase adoption.
Could you share a little teaser of your Keynote at the TFF Summit 2018?
I will share my journey on working to achieve impact and become a change agent wherever I was. Humility, curiosity and empathy are some skills that got me a long way. Professionalism, passion and commitment pushed me to aim and achieve more than I ever expected. Failing and succeeding has made my journey a learning experience. There is so much more to look forward to with new technologies but we shall never forget that it is all about human connections.