Blue Ventures works with local communities to conserve threatened marine environments. Our integrated approach empowers some of the world’s poorest coastal communities to develop conservation and alternative income initiatives to protect biodiversity and coastal livelihoods. The results of our work help us propose new ideas to benefit coastal communities everywhere.
Describe the critical need your solution addresses.
Globally, tropical coastal ecosystems are critical to livelihoods, cultures and food security of hundreds of millions of people, but are in unabated decline due to overexploitation and climate change. Throughout the developing world a paucity of marine resource governance exists with only a fraction of marine ecosystems under effective protection.
Explain your initiative in more depth and its stage of development.
Inspired by a paucity of marine resource governance globally Blue Ventures works alongside partner communities at remote field research sites. Data collected on the status of marine environments, analysed in partnership with community leaders, are widely disseminated so that communities begin to understand the ecological condition of their marine environment as well as the biological and economic case for conservation management as a tool for restocking depleted fisheries and safeguarding ecosystem resilience.
Blue Ventures works to develop community owned marine conservation solutions through a portfolio encompassing marine and fisheries research, sustainable aquaculture, family planning, environmental education, fisheries management and protected area development. Integrating such a broad range of initiatives and delivering them in a specific geographic area (Velondriake – established by Blue Ventures and the largest community-managed marine reserve in the Indian Ocean) represents a unique approach to the development of sustainable and holistic community led marine and coastal conservation in developing world countries.
The approach Blue Ventures has pioneered to tropical coastal management is unique globally:
• Blue Ventures’ work is grounded in uncompromising science. From biodiversity research to bioeconomic modelling of marine reserves, all conservation programmes are guided by rigorous scientific analysis.
• Blue Ventures’ conservation programmes are developed, designed, managed and policed by local coastal communities, creating a management solution that is owned and led by communities.
• Blue Ventures focuses on demonstrating the lasting economic benefits of marine conservation, creating a powerful market based incentive to protect marine biodiversity.
• At its core Blue Ventures is a biodiversity social enterprise, constantly innovating new approaches to financing marine conservation and coastal poverty alleviation, and generating almost all of its own conservation funding independently. Existing social enterprise activities include award-winning ecotourism, carbon finance and conservation incentive programmes, as well as community-based sustainable aquaculture businesses.
How does your strategy and approach respond creatively and comprehensively to key issues?
Blue Ventures’ approach integrates social, cultural, economic and ecological interventions that have each been identified as important factors to improving marine sustainability:
• Provision of sexual and reproductive health programmes in communities with no access to services. These family planning programmes have realised marked reductions in contraceptive prevalence rates and birth-rates.
• Development of marine-based alternative livelihoods including sea cucumber and seaweed farming. These sustainable aquaculture programmes have been scaled from pilot-projects to commercial-scale farming initiatives.
• Provision of school and university-level educational scholarships and services to local communities. Blue Ventures provides over 200 full educational scholarships to children of all ages each year.
• Creation of women's associations to empower women, reducing gender inequity and stimulating local entrepreneurship.
• Innovative environmental education programmes to change the way people view their relationship with the sea. Through grassroots social marketing, Blue Ventures is working to change people’s attitudes and behaviour in favour of a more sustainable future.
• Supporting communities to add value through conservation and eco-certification, to change the way fishers and seafood buyers see conservation.
In the last two years this approach has shown itself to be effective in promoting viral replication at astonishing rates. First trialled with one village in southern Madagascar in 2005, it has grown into the largest community-managed Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the Indian Ocean, encompassing over 800km2 of coastal waters and is now in the process of being independently replicated across the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
This approach, which sees communities developing, designing, managing and policing their own marine environments is itself unique, transformational and viral. Wide-spread acceptance of this approach will transform tropical coastal communities in the developing world by unleashing a new set of incentives that are both sustainable, beneficial, and thus preferred by local communities above the current exploitative paradigm.