March 5-8, 2012
The annual meeting of the marine section of the Consultative Group on Biological Diversity was a great opportunity to meet my new colleagues – foundation folks who fund ocean conservation work. There were several presentations by individuals from NGOs on topics including ocean acidification, sustainable fisheries, community development financial institutions (CDFIs), oil and gas drilling, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, aquaculture, and the current politics of ocean issues in DC. These were all interesting and informative and I took many pages of notes.
More important than the panels though, and the reason I was excited to attend, was the people. Everyone I met was very welcoming of me as the new kid on the block, and offered to let me bounce ideas off them and ask questions about inter- and intra-NGO dynamics. I feel lucky to have met this new group of intelligent, generous, motivated colleagues, and look forward to productive partnerships with them. I learned a lot about the ocean conservation foundation landscape – that is, who is working on what. Starting to gain this understanding will help me identify potential collaborations and synergies, and know whose expertise to solicit on various topics.
The biggest take-home message for me was just how much amazing ocean conservation work is funded by foundations, and by extension how dependent ocean resource sustainability is on philanthropy. At once encouraging and concerning.