Message from
the Chairman

20 years of impact feed the next 20 years of innovation

Sean McKaughan
Chairman of the Board of Directors



For Avina and the network of organizations that we work with, 2014 was a standout year. Our impact and performance measurements indicate perhaps the most encouraging results since we began implementing these metrics in 2007. The most important of these indicators is related to the broad scale social and environmental changes that Avina and its allies have helped to bring about, which according to our estimates benefited more than 25 million Latin Americans in 2014, in key areas for sustainability such as access to water, clean energy, democratic governance, inclusive recycling, conservation of biomes, and human rights.

Many of these achievements are described in this annual report, such as the launch of the pilot project “Agua de calidad para todas y todos” ("Quality Water for All") in Chile, an initiative that unites social and technological innovation to bring quality water to the most vulnerable communities; the signing of a joint statement by Norway and Peru to protect and conserve the Amazon; the creation of Observa Sampa, a new web portal for citizen participation in Sao Paulo; and the formal, legal recognition of recyclers through public policy in Colombia, among others. 

We celebrate these achievements while continuing to keep our eyes firmly fixed on the many challenges in the region. The regional economic slowdown -- due to factors such as the price of oil and other minerals, the turning inward of the Chinese market, and the European recession -- threatens some of the gains made in recent years in the reduction of poverty and inequality in Latin America. Likewise, a trend toward the concentration of power has been observed in some countries, along with a series of large scale corruption scandals. Violence and public insecurity -- both aggravated by organized crime -- continue to afflict many countries, and the economic and political instability that is on the rise only exacerbates the situation. This is a challenging landscape for those who seek sustainability, but we are convinced that this context also opens a door for innovative solutions in all these areas.

To accomplish this, Avina and its allies are investing in a variety of innovative models. We are supporting the adoption of the Social Progress Index by governments around the world, which enables them to use global metrics to measure the success of public policies as they affect the quality of life of people. We are promoting, together with Omidyar Network, the development of digital technology initiatives in the service of citizen participation. We are one of the drivers behind World Transforming Technologies (WTT), a partnership between philanthropists, inventors, and businesses that invests in sustainable scientific solutions for the needy. We have begun to increase the number of South-South exchanges to share knowledge and methods between Latin America and Africa. In addition, Avina has renewed its commitment to the regional Impact Opportunities that it supports through the strengthening of collaborative processes among leading organizations from different sectors.

Structurally, Avina will be looking to experiment with new models and alliances that lend us greater flexibility to fulfill our mission and increased resilience to adapt to the current context in Latin America. This creative ability to continually reinvent ourselves has been a fundamental part of our 20-year history. Some examples of the innovations to come:

  • We hope to transform our staff, who are spread across 15 countries, into an expert resource in regional and international social change, and to enhance their availability and capacity to incubate and strengthen collaborative processes in Latin America and beyond.
  • We want to convert our platform of nearly twenty legal entities across the region into an engine of Latin American philanthropy, encouraging social investment and lowering the barriers that inhibit the flow of resources available to fuel and enhance processes of change.
  • We mean to make permanent the social capital that we have helped to build in areas such as the Amazon Biome, the South American Chaco, and Inclusive Recycling. We plan to do this by creating the conditions so that stakeholders can continue and expand their transformative work around shared agendas for action beyond Avina’s limited resources, through structures like social organizations, businesses, cooperatives, or regional networks.
  • We aim to systematize and share the methods, tools, and knowledge that Avina has developed over more than two decades of work focused on social change, in order to serve the mission of other organizations that are also pursuing social change for the common good.

During 2015 we will launch these structural initiatives, among others, as part of our 2013-2017 strategic plan. The success of these innovations and improvements will depend on our ability to align our goals and agendas with those of our allies, so that together we can contribute to sustainability more efficiently and effectively.

On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank the Avina team for the strides made in 2014 that are summarized in this annual report and for their commitment to the innovations that we will be implementing throughout 2015. The talent and commitment of our team are Avina's most valuable assets. I would like to recognize my colleagues on the Board of Directors who have shown exemplary dedication to the organization as well as to welcome our newest member, Richard Aitkenhead from Guatemala, who brings experience in public-private partnerships, having worked in government, civil society, academia, and the private sector to improve the lives of Latin Americans. I am grateful to VIVA Trust for their continued support of Avina's mission and to our founder, Stephan Schmidheiny, whose vision of constant learning in the service of human dignity remains our guiding star. I also wish to acknowledge the trust placed in us daily by all the businesses, foundations, multilateral organizations, and international cooperation funds with whom we co-invest and partner in the task of promoting impact and transformation.

All of our work only translates into impact for sustainability thanks to our many valued allies in Latin America and around the globe, with whom we are privileged to work together to move our societies toward a more sustainable tomorrow. Together we know we can make a difference, and the best proof of that are the results we achieved together in 2014.

Sean McKaughan
Chairman of the Board of Directors