Fundacion Parke Nacional Aruba (FPNA) recently highlighted their successes and struggles of 2021 and gave a brief preview of their Multi-Annual Corporate Strategy 2022-2031 during the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) board meeting held in St. Maarten. Having survived the Covid pandemic, FPNA is now channeling all its efforts to reposition itself to align better with its core purpose.
2020-2021 Challenges & Opportunities
The Covid-year 2021, and 2020, were an eye-opener for many organizations, including FPNA. As the local community was experiencing a non-precedential pandemic, more people decided to recreate in nature and enjoy the protected areas under management of FPNA. On a positive note, this behavior change has led to an increase of approximately 300% of Annual Pass holders for Parke Nacional Arikok in 2021. As the tourism industry was recovering, nature had a breather and temporarily flourished from the mass high-impact recreational activities occurring both on land and in sea. As certain wildlife species became more visible, and some nature values were restored, this led to a community discourse on how to move forward post-pandemic with the tourism industry in balance with nature. This community discourse led to demanding more from FPNA as the guardian of Aruba’s nature.
Amidst the world economic crisis in 2021, FPNA focused on surviving financially, which led to cuts in its operational budget and a down-sizing of the organization by 32%. This, while operations needed to continue as usual and did for the large part. As tourism was recovering, the threats on nature were also rapidly increasing, and with limited financial and human resources, the FPNA team went through a deep introspection to evaluate the direction the organization will have to take post-pandemic, to increase its own organizational sustainability and conservation effectiveness. This introspection led to the realization of a much-needed transition from a park management organization to a conservation management organization. To facilitate this transitioning, FPNA created the first Multi-Annual Corporate Strategy 2022-2031 to increase effectiveness and efficiency for conservation, and a Sustainable Financing Plan 2022-2025 to diversify the income streams and become less dependent on park visitation and government subsidies.
A New Direction
The FPNA Management Team went through a five-step integral approach to access the business environment, stakeholder mapping, articulation of the aspiration towards 2031 drafting of the corporate strategy, and finally the creation of an implementation strategy. This approach has enabled the team to restructure their thinking, ask the right questions, test underlying assumptions, probe to critically look at the organization from an integrated perspective, explore and capture the most essential aspirational elements, and have a profound dialogue on these aspects. The Management Team had established a Sounding Board consisting of employees of FPNA to provide feedback at each step within the process.
To accomplish the Multi-Annual Corporate Strategy 2022-2031 the Management Team must commit to a broad strategic approach which enables the team to focus their attention, energy, and resources on four distinct but interrelated strategic pillars, and a set of strategic goals. The four strategic pillars are: 1) ‘Leadership in Nature Conservation – Integrated and inclusive Care for Nature of Aruba and its sustained conservation’, 2) ‘Transition to Sustainable Transformational Experiences – Create Value towards a nature based-experience economy for Nature of Aruba, Aruba as a whole and stakeholders’, 3) ‘Excellence in Conservation Co-Creation – Connect and Engage People to Nature by increasing understanding, stewardship and support for long term Conservation’, and 4) ‘Sustainable Organizational Development – Transformation to a modern, high performing conservation management organization with future proof capabilities and exemplary leadership in sustainability. The defined strategic pillars and strategic goals will pave the way for effective collaboration between FPNA and the members of the DCNA.
Strategically Working Together
For a sustainable future, with a thriving biodiversity and resilient ecosystems, within the Dutch Caribbean, it is crucial for all protected area management organization to reevaluate their contribution to nature conservation. As FPNA is leading in this process, it can serve as an example on how to create a long-term strategic planning to reach effective and efficient conservation. The long-term planning will facilitate the collaboration through the DCNA, and for DCNA to strategically provide the necessary technical support, foster knowledge exchange withing the alliance, and effectively raise funds for the different collaborations between the nature conservation organizations. Working together, each island can learn from the others, maximizing their successes and learning from the more challenging experiences.