Empowering communities for conservation: your chance to vote for sustainable seas

20 October 2010. Voting has opened for the World Challenge 2010 Award, an international competition organised by BBC World News and Newsweek magazine to champion projects showing enterprise and innovation at a grassroots level.

Blue Ventures is one of this year’s12 finalists, selected from over 800 nominations worldwidefor its work in using social enterprise to drive sustainable community-based conservation initiatives.

In Madagascar, Blue Ventures' highly acclaimed conservation programmes work with some of the world’s poorest coastal communities to develop conservation and alternative income initiatives to protect biodiversity and coastal livelihoods.

“These initiatives give local people a chance to determine their own future" said Gildas Andriamalala, Blue Ventures' outreach officer in southern Madagascar. "Our work is helping indigenous communities in some of the country’s most deprived areas deal with the challenges of dwindling marine resources.”

Blue Ventures’ strategy focuses on empowering coastal communities to manage their own resources by developing marine protection initiatives designed to sustain local fisheries and safeguard marine biodiversity. These initiatives have guided fisheries policy and legislation, and been replicated by dozens of villages, NGOs, and government agencies across hundreds of kilometres of coastline.

Recent successes include the creation of Velondriake, the largest community-managed marine reserve in the Indian Ocean. Blue Ventures is now focusing on scaling-up community-based conservation activities at national and international levels across the Indian Ocean region.


Blue Ventures generates much 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.

"All too often, marine conservation efforts fail because of market economics: the costs of action far outweigh the perceived benefits of inaction." said Dr. Garth Cripps, senior conservation scientist with Blue Ventures in Antananarivo. "Blue Ventures’ conservation strategy is simple. We focus on innovating scalable economic incentives for marine conservation."

Over coming weeks 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. Voting ends at midnight (GMT) on 12th November 2010.

If you'd like to vote for Blue Ventures, please vote for us here



*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/expeditions.html

*For more information about Blue Ventures research, please see http://www.blueventures.org/research.html