The judges selected the finalists from over 800 nominations, recognising Blue Ventures’ work in Madagascar as a powerful demonstration that social enterprise can be an effective engine for developing sustainable conservation initiatives.
Projects pioneered by Blue Ventures include the creation of the largest locally-managed marine reserve in the Indian Ocean. This work has guided national fisheries policy, and been adopted as a template for similar projects at national and regional levels.
“As a social enterprise we are driven by our mission to create new and sustainable approaches to financing and implementing conservation initiatives,” said Gildas Andriamalala, Blue Ventures' outreach officer in southern Madagascar. “These initiatives give local people a chance to determine their own future, and our work is helping coastal communities in some of the country’s most deprived areas deal with the challenges of dwindling marine resources.”
Blue Ventures is working in some of Africa’s poorest coastal regions to develop alternative livelihoods for local fishing communities. Their work also seeks to give people the knowledge and power to participate in making decisions on issues that directly impact their futures. As well as creating ambitious protected areas that benefit biodiversity and fisheries, Blue Ventures’ programme portfolio encompasses sustainable aquaculture, family planning, social marketing, and environmental education.
Blue Ventures generates almost all of its conservation funding independently, through volunteer expedition programmes. These programmes support a team of over 50 full time conservationists and staff worldwide. These conservationists are now among the leading authorities for community-based marine and coastal conservation in Madagascar and the western Indian Ocean region.
Blue Ventures' work will be featured on BBC World News television and in Newsweek magazine. The winner of World Challenge 2010 will be announced at a ceremony in The Hague in December, and will receive a US$20,000 grant from Shell to invest in their work. Two runners-up will each receive US$10,000. A public vote will open on 27th September.
Notes to editors* The locally managed marine reserve in Madagascar, called Velondriake – a local Malagasy word meaning “to live with the sea” – spans 1145km2, benefits more than 10,000 people in 25 villages and protects coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds, baobab forests and other threatened habitats. Local villagers worked with Blue Ventures to define the borders of Velondriake and identify which habitats to protect. Villagers are being trained in conservation science and planning, and have established a management board, the Velondriake Association, that oversees the implementation, management and monitoring of the reserve. Along with traditional conservation strategies such as seasonal no-take zones and permanent reserves, the villagers living within and around Velondriake are benefiting from a variety of sustainable development activities created by Blue Ventures, including sea cucumber farming, algae farming and eco-tourism.
*To increase national capacity for conservation success across Madagascar, Blue Ventures is also running a variety of environmental education programmes for local communities – including children’s environmental clubs, conservation scholarship programmes and training workshops.
*For more information about BBC World Challenge, please see http://www.theworldchallenge.co.uk/
*For more information about Blue Ventures expeditions, please see http://www.blueventures.org/
*For more information about Blue Ventures research, please see http://www.blueventures.org/