Staff Spotlight: Dino Delgado

Dino Delgado thinks of his role at USAID/Peru as a bridge: As the Environmental Governance Team Lead, he builds connections between colleagues, partners, and governments to strengthen efforts to combat nature crimes in the Amazon.

USAID/Peru manages country and regional programs, including the Amazon Regional Environment Program (AREP). Dino provides technical oversight to two AREP activities: Together for Conservation and Regional Cooperation to Address Environmental Crimes (ECOS). His background as an environmental lawyer uniquely positions him to oversee this work, but he was not always interested in preventing nature crimes.

Growing up as the son of a biologist and an agronomist in Peru, Dino thought he would enter a different field. He wanted to be a lawyer, but was not really interested in the “classic” practices of civil or criminal law. After an elective course in environmental law propelled him to talk to his mother about her work as a technical advisor to the Government of Peru on genetically modified organisms, Dino found his calling. He liked how environmental law combined his passion for legal research with the opportunity to create meaningful change.

Dino received a law degree in 2009 and a specialization in environmental and natural resources law in 2011 from universities in Peru. Next, he spent several years working at the Peruvian Society for Environmental Law and other non-governmental organizations focused on environment and biodiversity conservation issues in Peru, as well as several years at Peru’s National Natural Protected Areas Service and the Ministry of Environment. In 2016, Dino moved to the United States to serve as the first Executive Director of the Secretariat that reviews complaints charging violations of environmental provisions of the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement. He returned to Lima in 2020.

In late 2021, Dino’s path led him to USAID. He brought his natural skills as a convener to his role as a technical expert, connecting important stakeholders from Together for Conservation and ECOS. Each activity works to address some of the most prevalent nature crimes in the Amazon, including wildlife trafficking, unsustainable fishing, deforestation, illegal mining, and illegal crops. However, the two activities differ in their approaches to combating nature crimes.

Together for Conservation (2021-2026), implemented by Wildlife Conservation Society, works with civil societyespecially Indigenous and local communities, journalists, and private sector companiesin Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. The activity strengthens these groups’ capacities to identify, prevent, and respond to nature crimes. Dino helps the activity create linkages between these groups. For example, Together for Conservation connected an Amazonian fishing community to a restaurant in the area looking to buy from sustainable sources. Sometimes these efforts result in informal or formal regional networks of sustainable sellers and buyers.

A man stands in front of a poster

A member of the San Juan de Yanayacu community in Peru explains a Together for Conservation activity to conserve ornamental fish in the Amazon. Credit: Dino Delgado, USAID/Peru 

ECOS (2021-2025), implemented by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, works with governments in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, and Suriname to improve regional cooperation and capacity to detect, interdict, investigate, and prosecute nature crimes. Dino supports ECOS’s efforts to create and enhance networks so local and national governments can collaborate on cases in border areas and on transboundary issues. He frequently meets with government officials across the Amazon to introduce them to each other and help them find ways to work together.

Serving as a convener, or bridge, is a large part of Dino’s day-to-day work. Fortunately, it’s also what he enjoys most about his job.

“I love to make connections. I love to talk to people, I love to hear people, I love to see and try to understand other views,” Dino says.

He doesn’t just lend his convening skills to the Amazon Regional Environment Program; he also tries to connect with USAID colleagues across the Agency: “Even within USAID, it is so useful to understand what others are doing, to learn from experiences, to learn what is happening in Africa, Asia, the U.S., and see how you can learn from those experiences.”

Dino’s vision for the future is one in which biodiversity conservation efforts in one country are connected to those in another. He also notes the importance of addressing the root causes of why people participate in nature crimes in the first place. In Peru, political instability, lack of economic alternatives, and the opportunity for high earnings at low risk are major reasons why people living in the Amazon commit nature crimes, and these are factors that can take years to change. But, as Dino notes with a smile, biodiversity conservation in the region “is a marathon, it isn’t a sprint.”