When funders get together, great things happen. I experienced this first hand about ten years ago when I atended a meeting in Brussels to design a strategy to help improve the sustainability of European fisheries. For two days, representatives from several NGOs met to share ideas and identify what needed to happen if we wanted to see healthier and more abundant fish populations in European waters.
This worked out well, because in spite of a very lenghty process, five years later we managed to secure significant policy changes in EU legislation that if and when properly implemented will help restore fish stocks and deliver the mix of multiple economic and social benefits that are associated with them.
It was a pretty unique achievement. Under the OCEAN2012 coalition, a mix of NGOs and experts worked together to generate new scientific evidence and powerful arguments, developed detailed policy proposals that reached the ear of key policy-makers and designed creative campaigns to visualise that the majority of the public supported the very common sense principle of don’t fish more or faster than what the sea can provide. This also included small-scale fishermen which represent the vast majority of the fishing fleet in Europe.
This historic win was made possible because of two key ingredients:
First one, coordination by funders. Several foundations and philantropic initiatives from Europe and beyond joined forces, shared resources and provided the “glue” needed to bring people together and sustain a coordinated effort for a number of years. Much of this funding was used to cover staff costs and endless meetings – some of them very boring. These are very “grey” activities that no one ever wants to fund but which are extremely essential.
Second one, strategic focus. Having looked at the context, analysed the problem and consulted with experts, it was clear that “changing the rules of the game” was the most effective intervention. These funders were experienced and mature enough to fund “grey” work that delivers a pretty “grey” output: changing a few words and articles in a piece of legislation. Yet, this was very strategic because those changes will transform and reach farther than little projects on the ground.
This is very much the approach that underpins Marilles Foundation work to turn the Balearics into a beacon of marine conservation. Our ongoing dialogue with experts and stakeholders provides a complete and detailed picture of what is going on in the Balearic Sea, what are the problems, what is needed to fix them, what opportunities are there and who is best placed to take action.
But we know that coordinated action by funders will allow us to have more and stronger impact. Bringing funders together and raising more funds for marine conservation in the Balearics is one of the pillars of our work. The other pillar is to maximise the impact of every euro in terms of marine conservation gains.
At the moment, we are very fortunate to count with the support and expertise of Adessium, MAVA and Flotilla who have an impressive history of support for conservation in the Mediterranean and beyond. But to succeed, we will need to the contributions of other funders and generous individuals. It is within our reach to make the Balearic Sea a world-leading example of marine conservation. But we cannot do it alone. If you want to join us in making the Balearics a world-leader in marine conservation, we would love to hear from you.