Left to right: Stephan, Nev, Jimena, Ana Sofia, Rifat, Felicia, Ruth, Arie, Paulina, Dongdong and Olivia.

The HCV Network Secretariat team recently gathered for a week-long retreat in the United Kingdom. The Secretariat team has always been remote (even before Covid-19!) All employees work from their homes in Indonesia, Argentina, Costa Rica, the UK, the Netherlands and France, and although the team is used to communicating daily through online tools, they rarely get to meet in person (some had never met in person before!) As the Secretariat grows, it is important to bring employees together in person every once in a while, to build a sense of community and a strong, collaborative team.

For a week, Secretariat employees had team building activities and sessions to strategize about the role of the HCV Approach in achieving global targets around people, climate, and nature, plus sessions on company operations, Network governance, and strategic communications. Elements of the HCV Network Roadmap were further discussed and polished, with an emphasis on four main pillars: policy, implementation, assurance, and learning as essential components for addressing challenges and honing the full potential of the HCV Approach.

Left to right: Dongdong, Paulina, Felicia, Ruth, Arie, Ana Sofia, Rifat, Jimena, Nev and Stephan.

A session was also dedicated to doing a mock Forest Integrity Assessment (FIA) in a nearby forest. This practical experience enabled the team to apply their skills and knowledge and get hands-on experience in the field, while also providing the opportunity to appreciate and explore Britain's woodlands.

Left to right: Ana Sofia, Arie and Ruth lead a mock Forest Integrity Assessment in a nearby woodland.

The retreat was a huge success, and the team left feeling energized and motivated. Moreover, the retreat brought novel ideas on how to engage with HCV Network Members and partners. The team is excited to continue working together and using their collective knowledge and experience to create positive change.

Left to right: Jimena and Olivia participating in a session about protecting HCVs in landscapes and jurisdictions.