“I’ve always been fascinated by tropical rainforests and oceans: I feel at home in, and strongly connected to these wild places. I assume because I feel part of nature. I ám part of Nature. Wé are part of Nature. So, taking care of Nature is taking care of ourselves. And I know that we say that we want to take care of Nature, that we have to protect it, but actually it is Nature that is taking care of us. I, therefore, want to echo Thoreau, who said: “In wildness is the preservation of the world” (1862).” – Eveline Trines
With a long, and rewarding career behind her, in the last months, Eveline is dedicated to building a strong foundation in Form International with her colleagues and other professionals to excel in their profession. She has the ambition to facilitate the delivery of high-end, quality forestry projects to our clients, serving not only Nature but also the local people who depend on it. We talked with Eveline to learn more about her work for Form International and about her career. What drives her? What are the challenges she faces? And how does she coach and inspire others to create impact?
Eveline graduated in ’89 in the field of tropical forestry and fresh out of her studies, she embarked on what would become a life-changing experience. Her first assignment led her to an indigenous tribe in the Amazon jungle, where she lived and worked for nearly a year. The job was aimed at assisting the indigenous community with the development of a sustainable forest management plan for their territory. Eveline starts to say: “The evenings, before falling asleep, were spent conversing under a large communal shelter, in our hammocks. One particularly insightful colleague of mine, a member of the indigenous tribe, would quiz me every evening after I listened to the Dutch version of the world radio. He would ask me questions to grasp what my world looked like, asking me all sorts of questions. Discussions unfolded around environmental issues gaining prominence during a time when the Dutch government faced its first environmental crisis on air pollution. This was way before internet and mobile phone. He posed a fundamental question:
What is the advantage of living in a developed country? If you no longer have forests, if there is no more wildlife, if the fish in the river are dead, if the air you breath is polluted… If you have to build apartment buildings to park your car and live stacked on top of each other… no longer with your feet on the ground. Not in connection with nature…?
This question created extensive conversations, prompting me to reevaluate my values, beliefs, and the situation in my homeland. Despite differences in life expectancy (37 years for them at that time, over 70 for us), possessions, access to health care & education, and comforts, his message resonated: one must remain connected to the essence of existence—the natural world, because that is what allows us to survive. This became a fundamental insight for me and still is the foundation of my work. If you come to think about it deeply, anything we do, have, or use, originates in nature, one way or the other – we depend on it”.
After her experience in the Amazone, Eveline lived and worked in Ecuador, Bolivia, and Guyana, all while holding a bachelor’s degree. She aspired for more and pursued a Master’s degree in Environmental Forestry in Wales. After that, she became an auditor for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), based in Oxford in the UK. At this time the climate agreement was gaining traction, leading to the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. Eveline was working with SGS Forestry, and she collaborated with others to develop the very first certification scheme for carbon capture in forests, starting the month after the Kyoto Protocol was adopted. In January ’98, Eveline, together with others, designed the World Bank funded Protected Areas Project in Costa Rica, overseeing 28 national parks under a forest protection system generating carbon credits. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change then invited her to work on the land-use and forestry aspects of the climate agreement, where she played a pivotal role in drafting negotiation texts. After a few years of working out the details for the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, Eveline resigned and transitioned through the Dutch delegation, having connected with them globally during negotiations to the Ministry of Environment back in the Netherlands, after 12 years abroad. Minister Pronk chaired the climate agreement at that time, and she worked directly under him, having learned the fundamentals from him of what it means to truly adopt a consensus-reached agreement between more than 180 countries.
After starting her own business in 2002, Eveline Trines managed it for 17 years, building a substantial and influential network over the years. During this period, she engaged in diverse projects for various entities, including the UN, IPCC, ministries worldwide, the World Bank, and other esteemed organizations. But also for NGOs around the world, such as ICIMOD and ForCert. Later on, Eveline’s focus shifted to Nature-Based Solutions, focusing on developing business cases for nature conservation. Eveline also spent a few years at IUCN NL and Tropenbos International, collaborating with individuals from different sectors, including large corporates, financial institutions, foresters, and farmers, advancing sustainable landscape management. Her last role, before joining Form International, involved designing innovative financial products and mechanisms that benefit a wide range of aspects, emphasizing the sustainable use of landscapes. Eveline demonstrated analytical skills, a problem-solving attitude, cultural sensitivity, and a results-oriented approach during her career.
“And then I met Paul Hol, CEO of Form International, and he asked me if I would be interested in discussing a role at Form International. In February 2023, I started working at Form International, initially focusing on a reforestation and restoration project in Uganda. Over time, I became more involved in other projects and the organization itself. Form International increasingly expands its focus to include the carbon sector, also building on my expertise in certification systems and extensive auditing background. They approached me with the task of establishing standard operating procedures and supporting the technical personnel where possible in carbon-related matters. This led me to become part of the project management team, where I now provide guidance and expertise in forestry and carbon within Form International”. In her role at Form International, Eveline expresses great pride in supporting and where possible, guiding new colleagues, by some being called the “carbon oracle”. She promotes her colleagues to take on responsibilities while providing a support network and safety net of guidance and coaching. Eveline finds fulfilment in this relatively new role, actively contributing to building a strong foundation for the organization.
Despite the challenges of standardizing processes and fostering collaboration among diverse teams and projects, Eveline is determined to uphold the highest international standards in the carbon sector. She highlights the need for structured work to navigate the complexities of the industry, emphasizing the importance of internal cooperation to avoid redundant efforts. Eveline takes pride in Form International’s commitment to deliver high-end quality in a world filled with “carbon cowboys” cutting corners. She underscores the significance of adhering to multiple international standards, acknowledging the associated costs. Eveline also stresses the crucial role of forests in addressing climate change, estimating that approximately 25% of the climate problem stems from forest degradation and deforestation, while still a significant proportion of the world population lives in and depends on the remaining forests.
She advocates for marketing the climate change mitigation function of forests, recognizing the inherent tension between forestry and agriculture, making claims on the same land areas. She emphasizes the economic value of forests, asserting that assigning value to the forest is vital for its preservation. Reflecting on Form International’s longstanding principles, she acknowledges the challenges of maintaining these principles but believes in their enduring importance. “I value Form International’s dedication to principles, combining quality with a focus on biodiversity, environment, social aspects, local communities, and indigenous peoples. The organization’s commitment to delivering high-quality projects, with a primary focus on benefiting people and increasing biodiversity is very important”. Eveline concludes by expressing her great appreciation for the commitment of all Form International staff, jointly aspiring for positive impacts, also by creating a collaborative and impactful work environment in the company and with clients.
And whilst this interview is being posted, Eveline has just completed her task at Form International.
However, she will remain connected to Form International in an advisory role.