We are at a key moment in history. If business as usual continues, we have just five years left before we reach the critical global temperature rise of 1.5C. Despite some of the world’s largest economies recently ratifying the Paris Agreement, there seems little real commitment to tackle the big transition required to change course from this trajectory. Civil society is mobilising in response, but finds itself under pressure from state and non-state actors alike. At Global Greengrants Fund we are discussing what our priorities should be over the next five years within this context. Three fundamental questions underlie our thinking.
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 agreement reached at COP21 signals a level of ambition that exceeds what many battle-weary campaigners believed was possible. But a great deal of sustained political will is going to be needed if we are going to turn the rhetoric into reality. This is inconceivable without support from across all of society. Now more than ever we need a coherent, comprehensive and credible strategy for public engagement that is based on research-based evidence rather than the received wisdom of past environmental campaigns.