Second in a series of four scoping workshops, part of the Marine CoLaboration initiative on Valuing the Oceans, by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in London, UK.

Andrew Barnett, Louisa Hooper, Sandy Luk, Nicola Frost, Amy Pryor, Aniol Esteban, Giles Bristow, Sue Ranger, Andrew Farmer, Mirella von Lindenfels, Filipa Saldanha, Catarina Grilo, Sarah Ridley

Facilitators: Maja Kuzmanovic, Vali Lalioti, Nik Gaffney


The introduction from Louisa Hooper focused on the reasons why the Foundation decided to take the Marine CoLABoration approach and outline a possible trajectory and opportunities in the coming year.

The Gulbenkian Oceans Initiative was launched just over two years ago in Lisbon with a case study in Portugal and a range of public understanding and policy influencing initiatives. The focus has been on the economic valuation of marine ecosystem services. In the UK, the initiative was designed to connect to, promote and complement the work the Lisbon branch was engaged with, and also to address the needs and gaps specific to the UK. The initiative in the UK began with the commission of a scoping report from Forum for the Future, which suggested a number of critical issues, yet underlying them all was the need to make ocean issues more ‘human’ – to show people how and why the health of the ocean matters to them. The report showed that while there is a lot of information available, it is often 'siloed' in sectors and poorly communicated to those who may need it most.

Other programmes developed by the Foundation around the same time suggested that there is an appetite for collaboration, as well as connecting smaller local initiatives to national and international levels. However, participating organisations were often stretched and lacked the resources to do so. Similarly, the ‘Passionate Collaboration’ report from the Environmental Funders Network suggests the environmental sector felt the need to build skills in a range of areas, wanted to collaborate, wanted more time to reflect and think about what they were doing in order to be more effective. In reality, people are very busy doing, with little time for reflective analysis.

Hence, the Marine CoLaboration strategy focused around increasing the capacity of the sector to communicate the value of the ocean more effectively, in order to influence decision-making around the use and management of the sea. To fulfil this purpose, Marine CoLaboration would support the collaboration between a group of key organisations in the sector.

Quite what communicating the value of the ocean means is up to this group to explore and decide upon (no doubt with constructive disagreements along the way). There is an initial two-year timeframe, which the Foundation wishes to make practical and useful, as well as providing the time to reflect, talk, think and try things out. It would be helpful for us all to bear this in mind as we rush to DO!

In terms of outcomes, the Foundation has some ideas about what might emerge, perhaps a single new initiative, perhaps a number of different things, perhaps support for building capacity within organisations. However, the outcomes should ultimately emerge from the LAB rather than CGF dictating process and results.

Looking ahead, by the end of the workshop in May we aim to have a few clear areas of focus that the LAB wants to explore. We are planning to have a meeting in July, a two-day gathering in Lisbon in September and another meeting towards the end of the year. We are also planning an event in the autumn which will explore for a wider audience communicating the value of the ocean.

Immediate opportunities: see events and opportunities for details.

Framing by Maja Kuzmanovic

The second workshop of the Marine CoLAB builds on ideas and suggestions that emerged during the first meeting in January. We’ll begin at the individual scale and ask what personalities, skills and knowledge make up the Marine CoLAB today. Most of the morning is dedicated to a series of parallel sessions, finding out what the participants would like to contribute to a world-changing Marine CoLAB, formulated as quests, challenges or hypotheses. Based on these outcomes, the participants are invited to design a series of experiments to connect the broad theme of 'valuing the oceans' to their work and interests.

The experiment designs will form the basis of the first concrete Marine CoLAB collaborations. It might seem too soon to be designing an experiment in an afternoon, but the participants will have a chance to refine and develop the ideas after the workshop. Marine CoLAB would like to encourage an iterative approach. So, while the participants may have big ideas, the challenge is to translate this idea into realistic experiments that can be used to test the idea starting from tomorrow. Rather than establishing a monolithic ambitious two year plan, the participants are invited to use heuristics and learn by doing. Over the course of Marine CoLAB, as they get used to working together the plan is to then move on to developing larger and more complex experiments and initiatives.

In parallel throughout the day we’d like to collect feedback about the Marine coLAB process, content and facilitation. The participants are invited to record their thoughts based on two questions: 'what went well?' and 'what could we improve?'. Honest and open feedback is an essential part of any participatory process, which allows everyone involved to adapt to the needs of the group.

To summarise, in the second workshop we’ll look at what the participants want to contribute to Marine CoLAB, which quests and challenges are present in the group and which specific experiments can be designed to respond to these challenges.

After a warm-up game of personality poker and designing personal 'shields' with the skills and personality traits that each participant brings to Marine CoLAB, we looked at issues in the participants' current work that could become a part of Marine CoLAB programme. The participants were invited to think about what they would like to contribute to Marine CoLAB and to propose an Open Space session that others could join. The sessions could take different formats (from presentations and discussions to more hands-on approaches). At the end of the session the outcome should be formulated as a challenge, quest or hypothesis.


Hosted by Aniol Esteban

Discussion: There are tensions between job creation and marine conservation, based on the assumption that people who are worried about their economic situation will be less concerned about marine issues. By creating jobs that take environmental impact into account, business understanding and appreciation of the healthy marine environment could grow. For example, on the local level, new skills and jobs in coastal communities could be developed in the areas of 'blue health' (including healthy diets), environmental tourism and appropriate housing (e.g. not blocking the sea with arcades). Even more impact can be seen when looking at jobs on a national level (e.g. more than 50,000 jobs could be created). There are many opportunities to connect job creation and marine conservation, but to begin with the perception of conservation and the people involved in it must change.

Challenge: changing (negative) perception of Marine NGOs and reconciling the business/industry definition of the “healthy marine environment” with the one created within the Marine CoLAB.

Hosted by Giles Bristow

Discussion: How do we ensure that interventions we make are systemic or have an impact at a system level? There are huge, urgent and systemic challenges, where a distinct individual doesn't often have much impact. There are no single solutions to communicating the value of oceans. Instead there is a need for systemic impact and change, but also significant difficulties of working at whole systems level. It’s important to have good examples of how systemic change has happened through both co-ordinated and coincidental interventions. Existing initiatives could create a momentum/movement by bringing together disparate actions and creating 'windows of opportunity'. However, what is the glue that can join these actions together, or a shared direction around which the initiatives could collaborate? Aside from the glue, the big challenge is how to co-ordinate actions (timing, intervention plans, etc.). There is a need for systemic architects, who could lead towards more sustainable directions.

Challenge: It is possible to create systemic change by making the whole greater then the sum of its parts. The challenge is to co-ordinate [xxxxxx] and levers for change. How to [xxxx] about the use of levers (when, where, how)?

Hosted by Nicola Frost

Discussion: How to select a single issue to coordinate around and try approaching the issue form a systemic perspective to create significant change? It’s important to bring in learning, skills and [xxxx] from different organisations in order to create systemic change. How can the results from a local experiment (e.g. the Thames fisheries) be bridged to other issues, creating an understanding of systemic impacts? Can a small scale system be used to inform an experiment on a larger scale? Can a proof of concept be scaled and replicated to influence systemic change? How can this be done strategically, while at the same time being open to unexpected opportunities?

Challenge: Creating an experiment (a 'petri-dish' for an issue) in multiple institutions adding up to an outcome based whole.

Hosted by Sue Ranger and Amy Prior

Discussion: The connection between the people and the sea is important for communicating the value of oceans, but when does this communication actually create change? The reality is that we are competing for people’s attention. It might help to bring Marine CoLAB to other sectors (outside of our comfort zone, working with basic income, housing and other issues), as well as create visible proofs of concept. Relating human health issues with marine health could be an interesting approach, by connecting the unseen to daily life. Could one of the ways to communicating the value of oceans be to focus on health/diet? Another approach might be communicating the dangers of not connecting cultural and economic dimensions with ocean conservation. Would a trade-off analysis and scenario development help the understanding of the need to take taking account of the cultural dimensions of the ocean? Will it result in better outcomes for people and the sea? How do we communicate both the benefits and the counterfactuals?

Challenge: what happens if we DON’T take account of the benefits we gain from the marine environment?

Hosted by Sandy Luk

Discussion: engaging with the public during legislative processes can be tricky (and in some situations can actually dilute the result). A good example is the EU fisheries policy [c.f.], where specific problems were hung on other issues and regulations, making the discussion more broad and relevant to larger groups of people. The public can be engaged by pointing to absurd rules and their consequences, for example microplastics, or wasteful agriculture. Another approach is to create 'an easy alternative', by for example providing alternatives to CFCs during phase out of ozone depleting gasses. This may not be so easy with regards to climate change (compare the Montreal protocol vs. Kyoto protocol). It can help to find issues where the legal structure is similar, but the outcomes are different. The public can be keen to get involved when they have a true ability to change the rules. The question remains when and how it makes sense to engage the public in changing rules? Where is public engagement critical, and where can it create unwanted effects? Pooling different skills, as well as identifying leverage points and approaches for intervention could help. Similar to looking at systems changes, issues of co-ordination and strategy arise.

Challenge: when is engaging the public the best way to change the rules? How is this done best?


Using the challenges/hypotheses as a starting point, the participants designed a set of experiments. The constraints are that the experiment should be implemented by July 2015 using the current resources of Marine CoLAB. The participants were free to structure their own design sessions as they saw fit. GROWTH cards were offered on the tables as a way to guide the conversations from goal to outcome.

Details of each experiment can be found on the following pages;

  • marine_colab/workshop_201503.txt
  • Last modified: 2016-08-10 08:11
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