A multi-cultural team of associate facilitators, policy advisors and environmental governance experts based in South America, Africa and the UK

Based in Cambridge, UK, Talking Transformation is a professional facilitation and specialist advisory company created by Pippa Heylings when she moved to the UK in 2013. Our multi-cultural team is made up of associate facilitators, policy advisors and environmental governance experts based in South America, Africa and the UK.

Pippa Heylings
Founder and CEO

Over 25 years of international experience in the field of biodiversity conservation and climate compatible development policy in Africa, Eurasia and South America. Highly experienced facilitator of multi-stakeholder dialogue for policy change at national and international level – working across frontiers between governments, businesses and civil society. Expert in participatory governance of natural resources and protected areas with specialization in coastal/marine and watershed management. Pippa also specializes in community resource management and social and environmental conflict management. Author of multiple articles and manuals on these issues.


Proven ability to bring people together, breaking down barriers and facilitating productive dialogue on complex, challenging issues, especially in places rich in biodiversity and vulnerable to climate change. Pippa has facilitated a series of international inter-governmental workshops focussed on scaling-up financing for biodiversity, innovative governance mechanisms for protected area management and mainstreaming climate change into national development plans. This is the primary focus of Talking Transformation Ltd., the company that she created on her return to the UK in 2014. Through Talking Transformation, Pippa has acted as Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean for the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) – a network of NGOs, private corporations, international and multilateral agencies, universities and think-tanks, responsible for overseeing the commissioning of approx. 3 million UK pounds a year of UK-Dutch government funding to support government decision-makers in 35 countries to move towards climate compatible development. Talking Transformation then played a global role for CDKN providing strategic advice on transformational climate policy across the Latin American and Caribbean, Africa and Asia programmes.

Her passion for theatre has led her to direct amateur productions wherever she lives, and perhaps this is what has helped develop her excellent public speaking and writing skills. She loves mountaineering and scuba diving and has made underwater education films in Zanzibar and Galapagos.

Dr. Robert Bensted-Smith
Lead, Conservation and Development Strategy 

Robert works in biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. He has wide-ranging experience and a track record of strategic analysis to develop new policies and programmes, whether to tackle existing problems of unsustainability or to respond to the growing global threats of climate change, pandemics, invasive species and more. Areas of expertise include the science-policy interface, development of environmental institutions, participatory governance and practical conservation programmes, both terrestrial and marine.


He has a particular passion for marine management at the seascape scale, incorporating small-scale fisheries, and for conservation and sustainable development of islands. He has held leadership positions in the Latin American and Caribbean region for two international NGOs, first Conservation International, covering the Andean region and Eastern Tropical Pacific, then Fauna & Flora International, focused mainly on Central America and the Eastern Caribbean. He has also served as an advisor to governmental organisations, notably in Kenya, Zanzibar and Belize. His six years as Director of the Charles Darwin Research Station in the Galapagos Islands combined almost all of these elements, as the work involved leading a big team of staff and volunteers, overseeing applied research for ecosystem management and restoration, and developing new conservation and sustainable development strategies through a combination of scientific evidence and stakeholder participation. He served as advisor to the governing body of the Galapagos Islands and was heavily involved in the establishment of a new legal and institutional framework for the archipelago, including creation of the Galapagos Marine Reserve under a participatory governance regime.

Before his 15 years based in South America, Robert spent 10 years in eastern Africa, including extended periods as Policy and Planning Advisor to the Kenya Wildlife Service and as Chief Advisor to the Department of Environment. He also undertook a variety of consultancies, both in Africa and further afield, including Cuba and the Seychelles.

Robert is a member of the Global Leadership Academy Community, a pool of leaders and innovators in diverse fields of sustainable development, participating primarily on sustainable oceans. In the UK Honours list of 2003, he was awarded the OBE for services to environmental conservation.

Carolina Proaño Castro
Lead on Climate and Development

Carolina is an Ecuadorean biologist (BSc) and sustainability professional (MA) with expertise in biodiversity conservation (MPhil), climate change, sustainable development and scientific research. She recently finished her Conservation Leadership studies at the University of Cambridge (UK) where she gained skills in the management and economic side of conservation, and she established a high-profile network of professionals, academics and aspiring conservation leaders. During her time at the University of Cambridge, she has reinforced her interest for collaborating with the private sector, NGOs and governments in innovative strategies to enhance biodiversity and ecosystem services.


Her greatest strengths lie in conveying complex technical concepts to broad audiences, developing and implementing effective project-based strategic plans, and building consensus among a diverse range of stakeholders in multicultural and multisectoral settings. She has strong qualitative and quantitative analysis knowledge, excellent communication and facilitation skills as well as proven ability and experience in project management, governance, inter-culturality, gender, facilitation, conflict resolution and climate change diplomacy.

With over 12 years of professional experience, Carolina believes she have a holistic, inclusive and current understanding of what conservation is both in theory and practice, as well as where future developments may lead. She envisions conservation solutions that are well articulated with other sectors, other disciplines so that the whole impact of conservation is more than the sum of parts.

Patricia Leon Woolfson
Associate, Ecuador

Patricia Leon holds a Master’s in International Development Policy from Duke University and a BA in Economics from Emmanuel College. Patricia has more than 12 years of experience with projects related to sustainable development, building consensus over socio environmental objectives and the implementation of planning and evaluation methodologies related to conservation. She served as advisor to the Governor of Galapagos Islands, were she led the design of policy related to sustainable transport, energy and urban planning in the context of fragile ecosystems.


She began her career at Fundacion Futuro Latinomaericano, coordinating a three-year project, which promoted youth participation in local policy making. She later served as Director for Organizational Development, where she worked along with Project Officers for project planning, fundraising and M&E. She has served as a consultant for the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation and World Wildlife Fund.

Enrique Piedra Cueva Marchesano
Associate, Uruguay

Enrique is uruguayan with a degree in Sociology from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. He is a specialist in team development, leadership and organizational change management. He has specific certified training in Third Sector Management, Corporate Social Responsibility, Management Skills, Persuasive Communication and High Performance Teams. He is a post- graduate professor at the Catholic University of Uruguay; and at various academic programs in other universities in the region. His career in organizational change and institutional sustainability is focused on the socio-cultural, behavioural and human system of organizations.


With over 25 years of professional experience in the region and a clear option for humanist values, Enrique develops an autonomous practice, selecting those projects that have a better potential to create change. He provides consulting and training services to private companies (multinational, national and SMEs); Cooperatives; non-governmental organizations; cooperation in international organizations and public and government agencies. He has participated directly in about 100 consultancy projects and management trainings related to leadership for sustainability and organizational change. He has identified and accompanied leaders in more than 120 projects aiming to achieve sustainable development in Latin America. He works as an independent consultant.

Patricio A. Cabrera

Profesional en Ecología y Turismo (Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador) con una Maestría en Ecoeficiencia y Gestión Empresarial del Ambiente (Instituto de Investigaciones Ecológicas de Málaga – España) y una especialización en manejo de Conflictos de la Universidad George Mason (Washington, USA). Adicionalmente, tiene formación en planificación y gestión de proyectos, manejo y transformación de conflictos socio-ambientales, facilitación, mediación y gobernanza de recursos naturales. Su trabajo se vincula al desarrollo de proyectos ambientales sostenibles desde el año 2000. Ha facilitado procesos de diálogo multisectorial y fortalecimiento de capacidades sobre temas relacionados a la gestión de cuencas hídricas, áreas naturales protegidas, gobernanza territorial, paz y seguridad humana, cambio climático, infraestructura y energía.


Tiene amplia experiencia en proyectos de desarrollo apoyados por agencias multilaterales, cooperación internacional y organizaciones no gubernamentales, consolidando su experiencia de trabajo y capacitación sobre diálogo, transformación de conflictos, gobernanza y política pública con diferentes grupos de interés en varios países de Latinoamérica, entre estos: Ecuador, Colombia, Perú, Bolivia, Brasil, El Salvador, Uruguay, Panamá, Honduras, Costa Rica y Argentina.


Talking Transformation works locally and internationally to facilitate change towards sustainable development, biodiversity conservation and a zero carbon, climate-resilient world.

+44 (0) 7837 228416

EMAIL: pippa.heylings@talkingtransformation.org

13, Burrough Field, Impington
Cambridge CB24 9NW