One of the toughest challenges facing us in caring for the environment is that it is going to take all of us working together. The big systemic challenges like climate change or economically-driven degradation of the natural world need systemic responses. Responses are not hard to design, but how to do we achieve the ‘all of us working together’ part? The USA is way out ahead of us here, with funders partnering up with backbone organisations and giving unrestricted funding, in relationships of trust. It is time we in the UK caught up with this approach to whole-systems change.
Keyword “systems change”
As a group of Marine NGOs (loosely termed), we are a system, or perhaps more relevantly, we are an ecosystem. We have a loose common purpose, we relate to each other and our actions have consequences for each other, yet until now, we have barely been aware of each other and certainly did not collaborate and coordinate our activities. Not in any meaningful sense. Now this is changing.
Last year we established the Marine CoLABoration, a group of nine UK-based NGOs, each bringing different approaches, areas of expertise and geographical focus to marine conservation. We are funding the CoLAB to meet, initially over a two-year period, to explore new ideas and areas of convergence in a series of facilitated workshops using experimental ‘laboratory’ techniques. The CoLAB creates a collaborative arena to think differently, experiment with new ways of approaching problems, take action, learn and share. Its vision is to catalyse new and more effective solutions, working with the values that connect people and the ocean.
"The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between how nature works and the way people think.”
So what is the difference between how nature works and how people think? As empowered change agents, how can we help to align human systems so that they are in harmony with our natural systems?
This is something that I have been exploring for the last 12 years working at the nexus of sustainability and finance as a change practitioner with WWF-UK and The Finance Innovation Lab.
Keywords: systems change