At the heart of Valuing the Ocean is the Marine CoLABoration (CoLAB) group, a network of organisations established in 2015 with a joint ambition to communicate the value of the ocean more effectively. The idea of the CoLAB is to provide time and resources for the marine conservation sector to build on what works, learn from other sectors and parts of the world, and develop tools and approaches with the potential to increase the scale and pace of beneficial change. The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation provides core funding to help the network advance the narrative around marine conservation, incubate innovative solutions, and build the capacity of NGOs for more experimental, collaborative approaches.
The UK Branch has recently supported the CoLAB network with joint sector campaigns and capacity building activities, including the hugely successful #OneLess campaign. In 2021, the CoLAB’s #ListenToTheOcean campaign put the ocean in the spotlight for G7 ministers and the media, coalescing 70+ ocean groups internationally. The CoLAB and Coastal Partnerships Network delivered the oversubscribed learning programme Compass for marine practitioners, which in 2022 will become a permanent online toolkit. Other key projects include Agents of Change and Sound Waves. Some experiments mature to a ‘project stage’ with additional funding and increased capacity to deliver specific outcomes and impacts.
The Marine CoLAB brings together participants from organisations with a breadth of skills, experience, networks and spheres of interest to reflect on current practice, identify gaps, test new ideas, learn from and share the results. Some of the organisations focus specifically on marine conservation, others contribute expertise in communications, law, economics and systemic change. CoLAB members can also connect across different levels from the local to national and international policy, practice and campaigns.
The Marine CoLAB’s vision is of a healthy and less threatened ocean and an ‘ocean friendly’ society, one that values the contribution the ocean makes to our continued wellbeing and acts to safeguard this value in all its rich diversity. The CoLAB shares a belief that we can accelerate progress towards an ocean friendly society by collaborating and by placing value at the heart of shaping solutions. We call this way of working a ‘values-based approach’.
‘Taking a values-based approach is very simple. Start with what really matters to people, with what they hold dear, what they treasure – use that as a jumping off point for celebration, for problem solving, for driving change, for learning, for finding common ground. Putting value first means shaping solutions that recognise the multitude of ways that the ocean is vital to us and seek to safeguard what we treasure while respecting what is valuable to others.’
Sue Ranger, Marine Conservation Society, ‘Our Ocean Has Value’
The Marine CoLAB strategy is three-pronged, aiming to: 1) shift the narrative around marine conservation; 2) identify serious gaps and incubate work to address them; 3) and build the capacity of the sector to take an experimental, values based and collaborative approach.
Marine CoLAB website