Increased scientific knowledge and environmental awareness about the importance of the benefits provided by the oceans and its “blue”natural capital do not necessarily lead to meaningful change in the practices of public and private organizations.
To overcome this, the Gulbenkian Oceans Initiative has promoted within various institutions and organizations the integration of the value and importance of the oceans into decision-making processes and advocacy. The GOI sought to strengthen on one hand the use of scientific evidence in decision-making processes, and on the other hand the capacity of environmental NGOs to advocate for ocean protection.
Training in policy advocacy
Scientific knowledge is determinant for the understanding of how the world works, why, and how we can improve it. However, scientific research is not enough on its own to promote change in public policies. Just as it is important to know how to communicate science to the general public, so that people improve their understanding of various topics, it is also essential to know how to communicate scientific results to decision-makers, so they improve their understanding on various issues and act accordingly.
The Oceans Initiative organized a training course on policy advocacy (a deliberate process of influencing those who make decisions and set political courses) so that the knowledge produced in the interdisciplinary research project reaches decision-makers more easily. Developed by ICPA– International Centre for Policy Advocacy, the Policy Development and Engagement Program was attended both by project researchers and the Oceans Initiative team so that all could support the GOI in promoting policy action.
PDEP was focused on improving the ability of participants to prepare recommendations based on scientific evidence, and to prepare policy briefs (short, concise documents without technical jargon that use empirical and/or scientific evidence to recommend policy options to decision-makers) to support their efforts of promoting policy action by decision-makers.
Training for marine ENGOs
Environmental NGOs working on the maritime economy, marine conservation and management are one of the target audiences of the Oceans Initiative, as they seek to bring change to marine policies. To maximize the impact of their work on policy decision-making in Portugal, the Oceans Initiative promoted a training program tailored to the needs of the Portuguese marine ENGOs.
This training program was focused on two areas: 1) technical skills (economic tools); 2) organizational management skills (strategic planning and fundraising), and was delivered by the new economics foundation.
Training in economics applied to marine conservation (2013 and 2014)
Two intensive training courses in economics took place in 2013 and 2014. During the sessions, participants learned and debated key economic concepts, economic analysis methodologies, and techniques of environmental valuation. These contents are directly applicable to the work carried out by the ENGOs to protect the oceans. Specifically, it allows these environmental organizations to include economics concepts in their advocacy work.
Training in strategic planning and organizational development (2015)
Strategic planning is closely related to organizational development, as no strategy can be successful without a clear and solid organizational development plan. This training introduced key steps in organization development as the necessary context for strategic development.
During this training, participants learned concepts, methods and techniques needed to develop a good strategy and the necessary tools for an effective advocacy.
Training in fundraising (2016)
The sustainability of ENGOs’ work is strongly dependent on their ability to obtain funds, preferably from different sources. This training was focused on the common challenges to fundraising; the types of funds and funders; the qualities of a good fundraiser; the mapping of fundraising opportunities for Portuguese marine ENGOs; the techniques for project development and management; and the key elements of a good proposal.
Developing PONG-Pesca’s strategy (2016)
The main Portuguese ENGOs working on marine conservation are organized in a collaborative platform. PONG-Pesca (Platform of Portuguese NGOs on Fisheries) is formed by eight non-governmental organizations working on oceans issues, and coordinates its members’ advocacy on fisheries, namely:
- APECE – Portuguese Association for the Study and Conservation of Elasmobranchs;
- GEOTA – Group for Studies on Land Planning and the Environment;
- LPN – League for the Protection of Nature;
- OMA – Observatory of the Sea of the Azores;
- Quercus – National Association for Nature Conservation;
- Sciaena – Association of Marine Sciences and Cooperation;
- SPEA – Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds;
- WWF Portugal.
PONG-Pesca was formed in 2009 to coordinate the efforts of Portuguese ENGOs to contribute to the public consultation on the new Common Fisheries Policy. As an informal coalition, PONG-Pesca is an excellent example of lasting and effective collaboration between environmental NGOs.
The Oceans Initiative continued supporting marine NGOs in Portugal aiming at the development of a joint strategy for PONG-Pesca. With the support and facilitation of the new economics foundation, representatives of each of PONG-Pesca’s members defined and developed the following key steps: external environment analysis (threats and opportunities); definition of their mission and vision, goals and activities required to meet them; identification of resources needed to implement the strategy; and identification of impact indicators.
PONG-Pesca’s strategy will allow its NGOs to act collectively to meet their joint goals, strengthening their efficacy and efficiency in fisheries-related advocacy.
In order to contribute to meaningful and lasting change, the GOI partners with other initiatives so as not to duplicate efforts and to fill existing gaps.
participation in events
- Presentation of the project “Blue Natural Capital – and a sustainable business strategy” (EN) at the 8th Ecosytem Service Partnership World Conference. Stellenbosh, South Africa, 9 – 13 November.
- Participation at the panel discussion “Nature and the art of policy making” where we presented the white paper “Enabling Business Decisions that Integrate Natural Capital: Learning from a Complex Systems Perspective“, co-authored by Filipa Saldanha (Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation). World Forum on Natural Capital, Edinburgh (Scotland), 23-24 de November.
- Presentation of the “Portuguese Case-Study” on the International Workshop on opportunities and obstacles for Natural Capital Accounting. Brussels, January, 27-28.
Final report of the Workshop: From Obstacles to Opportunities –Towards an Action Plan for improved Natural Capital and Ecosystem Accounting Implementation
- Participation in discussion panel at “V Green Project Awards Conference 2014 on “Portugal, Natural Capital – Agriculture, Sea and Forest” – session on Sea. Lisbon, December 1
- Valuing our Life Support Systems – Natural Capital Summit 2014. London, November 6-7
- BioMarine International Business Conference. Cascais, October 30-31.
- Commitment for Green Growth – Session on Oceans. Lisbon, October 27.
- Keynote speech at the World Research and Innovation Congress – Oceans. Lisbon, October 15-16.
- V Green Project Awards Conference 2014 on “Portugal, Natural Capital – Agriculture, Sea, and Forest”. Lisbon, September 30th.
- Colloquium “Oceanos – De Ambiente Frágil a Recurso Sustentável”. Lisbon, May 26-27 (GOI’s presentation)
- High-Level Conference on the Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services. Brussels, May 22nd.
- Keynote speech at the European Maritime Day. Bremen (Germany), May 19-20.
- “Healthy Oceans – Productive Ecosystems: A European conference for the marine environment”. Brussels, March 3-4.
- First Conference “The Oceans of Tomorrow projects: What results so far?“. Brussels, March 26th.
- World Ocean Summit by The Economist. San Francisco, February 24-27.
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- Lisbon Atlantic Conference. Lisbon, 4-5 de Dezembro.
- Marine Stewardship Council networking session with Portuguese stakeholders. Lisbon, December 9th.
- Marine Stewardship Council information session. Lisbon, November 20th.
- Debate organized by Sea for Society project on “Sea-related tourism and leisure: future solutions”. Lisbon, October 31st.
- IMPAC 3 – International Marine Protected Areas Congress. Marseille, October 21-27.
- Final conference of the MESMA project – “Monitoring and evaluation of spatially managed areas”. Lisbon, October 8-10.
- 6th Annual International ESP Conference. Bali (Indonesia), August 26-30.
- Conference of the Drager Foundation on “Sustainable Oceans: Reconciling Economic Use and Protection”. Cascais (Portugal), June 3-5.
- Conference “Oceans – Challenges and Opportunities”. Porto, May 13-17 (GOI’s presentation)
- Launch of the Global Ocean Commission. London, February 2nd.
- SIMBAD – Selection At Sea To Reduce Discards
- UIM – Sea Itinerant University 2014
- Evaluation of the potential for the development of a fisheries co-management process in the Peniche-Nazaré region – WWF Portugal
- Assessment of the ecosystem services in marine protected areas – two case studies in the central coast of Portugal’s mainland* – SPEA – Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves; ADEPE – Associação para o Desenvolvimento de Peniche; GAC – Região de Aveiro
* Project supported in the context of the Training in marine economics directed at Portuguese environmental NGOs and local associations.
Participation in public consultations
- Atlantic Forum – European Commission (GOI’s participation in call for suggestions for key investment and research priorities)
- National Strategy for the Sea 2013-2020 (GOI’s participation in public consultation)