Interview: The Alexander Von Humboldt Institute’s Research Deputy Director on new partnership with Latin America Hub


Alexander Von Humboldt Biological Resources Research Institute from Colombia is the newest member of the Latin American and Caribbean Hub for Transformative Innovation Policies.

The Alexander Von Humboldt Institute is one of the most prominent scientific research organizations on biodiversity in Colombia and Latin America. Since June it is a new partner of the Latin American and Caribbean HUB for Transformative Innovation. In an interview with Oscar Gualdrón González (OGG), research deputy director at the Institute, we delve into the institution and its interest in transformative innovation.

Question 1. What is the mission of the Humboldt Institute? And what is its influence in Colombia and the Latin American region?

OGG: The Alexander Von Humboldt Institute is a 26 years old scientific research institute on biodiversity, including hydrobiological and genetic resources. It is a private institution linked to the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, led by an assembly of partners consisting of universities, Regional Autonomous Corporations (CAR) and the National Government. Its financing comes from various funds, including contributions from the national and private governments, international cooperation and strategic alliances.

The institute is in charge of managing the national information system on biodiversity and scientific research on natural resources. Together with three other institutes we are the investigative arm of the national environmental system – SINA. Through the creation, analysis and synthesis of data, the Institute aims to influence the decision-making of all actors in society towards the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and territory.

Question 2. Why have you been interested in the Transformative Innovation Policy? What aspects of this approach stand out to you?

OGG: Our interest arises mainly for three reasons:

Firstly, the Institute’s approach promoting transitions and generating changes in socio-technical systems is in line with the HUB’s methodology. The program in social sciences and knowledge of biodiversity that the Institute has also incorporated has allowed a broader approach to the analysis of socio-ecological systems, including in its research studying all actors of the ecosystem, without which sustainability is not possible.

As a second point, our Quadrennial Research Plan (PICIA) is built on a conceptual axis of socio-ecological transitions, which connect with the Theory of Change developed by the HUB and the TIPC consortium. In fact, we are currently working on building a more dynamic research agenda aimed at making the impact of our research and development activities more visible.

Finally, by being part of the HUB, we could promote improvements in decision-making processes by environmental and territorial authorities, private organizations and the general public. This is of utmost importance, since not providing a prompt solution to certain situations would imply a risk for ecosystems and their sustainability.

Question 3. What does expect the Institute of the alliance with the Latin American and Caribbean HUB of Transformative Innovation Policy?

OGG: We have been studying for about a year how we can contribute to sustainable transitions in territories, regions and companies, which implies creating an agenda that involves alliances with organizations and experts in different topics. In this sense, the experimentation community in TIP enabled by the HUB reinforced our interests in contributing to sustainability and it is a great opportunity to enhance our knowledge as an institute and also contribute to other members of the HUB from our knowledge and research. Likewise, we found that it could be the space to strengthen our advocacy capacity on issues related to Science and Technology Policies. Ultimately, as a HUB member we will have the opportunity to challenge our ideas and reflect upon them alongside our stakeholders, as well as inspiring others with our vision and work.