On 15th of January 2015 a group of 16 people came together at the Gulbenkian Foundation in London for a day of co-creating a range of scenarios for Marine CoLABoration. The aim of the workshop was for the participants to get to know each other as creative individuals and to glimpse shared vision(s) for the initiative.

Looking at the oceans surfaces many 'big' problems, which often need multiple perspectives to incite meaningful change. The workshop explored the nature of value, economic and social assumptions which impact the importance and complexity of the issues involved. Scenarios were developed which explored more sustainable economic and governance systems as the world experiences further effects of climate change.

Photos from the workshop can be found at https://www.flickr.com/photos/foam/sets/72157650383972831

Andrew Barnett, Louisa Hooper, Sarah Ridley, Gonçalo Calado, Sandy Luk, Nicola Frost, Amy Pryor, Aniol Esteban, Giles Bristow, Sue Ranger, Andrew Farmer, Heather Koldewey, Mirella von Lindenfels

Facilitators: Maja Kuzmanovic, Nik Gaffney, Vali Lalioti

Gulbenkian Oceans Initiative

“How could the Marine CoLABoration change the world?” (with further questions considered)

Valuing the Oceans / Marine CoLABoration takes on a lab-approach - it is participatory and co-creative focussing on iterative cycles, experimentation and connections. Looking at oceans surfaces many 'big' problems, which need multiple perspectives to incite meaningful change. The participants in Marine CoLABoration are therefore from diverse backgrounds and areas of interest.

(further details of the framing by Maja Kuzmanovic)

Think of a situation in which you felt able to change the world. What did you do? How did you feel? What resources did you have at your disposal?

Worldchanging actions described included; finding and seizing opportunities, being able to respond to serendipity, Thinking pro-actively and strategically, Understanding, Finding and analysing evidence, reframing existing problems, refreshing, restart, collaborating with others, Trust, Engagement, Reward, Share, defying authority if necessary when beliefs or actions are challenged.

Worldchanging emotions described included; Excitement, Inspiration, (Self)reward, Frustration transformed into elation, Energy, Passion, Pride, Freedom, Exhaustion and Happiness.

Worldchanging resources described included; existing social/professional connections, Networks, Time, Shared cause, The availability of a safety net (family, friends, financial stability), the capacity and willingness to change, Entrepreneurship, working with enthusiastic youth.

What do we know about valuing the oceans?

  • Value can be extrinsic or intrinsic.
  • Oceans are living ecosystems
    • The planet won’t function as it currently does without oceans
    • Oceans affect weather patterns and function as a climate buffer, regulating climate and global distribution of heat and rain
    • Oceans have a significant biomass and are essential for many nutrient cycles [(cn>citation needed)]
    • The physical mass of the oceans has an effect on Earth's gravity
    • It can take around 40 years from cause to effect [(cn)]
    • 30% of all CO2 is currently absorbed by oceans [(cn)]
    • 50% of O2 generated by oceans [(cn)]
    • 70% of the Earth is oceans [(cn)]
    • Oceans are linked to rivers, lands, seas, cities and civilisations
    • Increasing temperature moves species into different regions
  • Threats
    • One vessel by MMO to inspect (?)
    • Areas of the ocean are dead or dying
    • Biodiversity in the ocean is reducing [(cn)]
    • There is a risk of acidification
    • We pollute the oceans, but many people depend on the ocean for their livelihoods
  • Opportunities
    • Economic value of oceans can be found in food and minerals
    • Island communities are reliant on shipping
    • Oceans provide food (security) with much protein; seafood is linked to a healthy diet
    • There is potential for renewable energy generation
    • High percentage of global trade is transported on oceans
    • It is possible to harvest resources sustainably
    • There is a lot of information about the oceans out there
  • Intrinsic values
    • Oceans connect to the land/people on beaches
    • There is a generational loss of skills, heritage and tradition
    • Inspirational and aesthetic value of oceans can be found in art, objects, jewellery, ornaments, monuments
    • It is hard for humans to live in, off and under the ocean
    • Most humans experience a fleeting connection with oceans
    • There is a strong spiritual value of oceans for some

What can we presume about valuing the oceans?

  • Economics can describe (or ascribe) value for everything
  • Once value of oceans is recognised it will produce change
  • Change will not happen without a value shift
  • Evidence leads to change
  • Having the evidence will automatically lead to valuing of oceans
  • At the moment oceans are not valued enough
  • Values can be universal as well as culturally specific
  • The governance of oceans is currently ineffective
  • Policies are implemented
  • We can cooperate with existing economic and capitalist methods
  • Post-capitalist methods of understanding value are needed to truly value the oceans
  • Numbers are useful and/or able to accurately represent value
  • There is a relative importance of values which is consistent and knowable
  • Economic valuation can be misused
  • People care about things that have value
  • People are mostly rational
  • Most productive coastal regions are not particularly easy to destroy
  • We could get more fish/jobs out of the ocean
  • The economic assumption that natural resources are 'infinite'

What is unknown about valuing the oceans?

  • Does the ocean need saving?
  • What does 'value' mean?
  • What happens if/when we accurately value the ocean?
  • Are there shared value systems which can be communicated?
  • Is there a valuation model that supersedes economics (a system of values which is a superset of economic and 'other' values)?
  • Does the perfect elevator pitch for valuing the oceans exist?
  • What is the level of political will?
  • What is the economic value of the oceans?
  • What are the resources currently devoted to oceans research?
  • How will the oceans’ ecology change?
  • How will China's rapid industrialisation and resource exploitation effect the oceans?
  • What contribution can individuals make to saving the oceans?
  • How to reconcile incremental and radical change (is it possible to reconcile them at all)?
  • When and where will opportunities arise?
  • What are the biggest loci for change?

What are the drivers of change for Marine CoLABoration?

  • Climate change
  • Habitat damage and degradation
  • Pollution (litter, nutrients, chemicals, acidification)
  • Biodiversity loss
  • Increased concentration of population along coasts
  • Natural capital
  • Increased awareness of marine debris
  • Coastal defence
  • Linking marine issues to primary needs
  • Public frustration with politics
  • Aquaculture = agriculture of the 21st century
  • Population growth
  • Growth economy (over exploitation of resources, paradigm of 'growth is good', consumerism, capitalism is the only way, questioning current economic model…)
  • International trade
  • Demand
  • Technological abuse/exploitation
  • Innovation ability
  • Technological solutions (incl. transparency, accountability, monitoring, wider engagement & more)

What is most important and most uncertain for Marine CoLABoration?

  • Growth economy
  • Climate change

What are the extreme positions of our scenario logic?

  • Growth economy ↔ Sustainable economy
  • Climate mitigation ↔ Climate chaos

Six years from now, what are possible future scenarios for a world that Marine CoLABoration could change?

  • Pollutopia, where business continues as usual, growth economy continues growing amidst climate chaos.
  • Rescue is a world where climate chaos surpassed several tipping points, forcing humanity to redesign our value system and practice sustainable economy in order to survive.
  • Cool Growth allows economy to continue growing while focusing all attention to climate change mitigation.
  • Imagine… is a world where a planetary cultural shift to sustainable economy and climate mitigation is changing the shape of our civilisation and reversing our damage to the planet.

How could Marine CoLABoration change the world (in six years)?

Marine CoLABoration works within the paradigm of growth economy (for maximum speed and impact) to link with innovation, products (…) and values that create sustainable growth.. All work to scale solutions that both make economic and environmental benefit. Marine CoLABoration scales to influence MNC’s and government to make this happen. (Pollutopia)

Marine CoLABoration supports effective collaboration within and between nested levels of governance. We restore the links between the ocean and wider society (Rescue)

Marine CoLABoration uses climate mitigation as impetus and reason for better ocean protection. “Defending the climate defender” (Cool Growth)

Marine CoLABoration is a true global collaboration that shares and supports existing and novel solutions. We provide a connection of ideas and innovations from local to global using established and new partnerships. (Imagine)…


There are some books and articles on the recommended reading list.


  • marine_colab/workshop_201501.txt
  • Last modified: 2020-06-06 11:59
  • by nik