On 8th of July 2015 a group of 13 people came together in London as part of the Marine CoLABoration. There were two main purposes for the workshop: to clarify what has been learnt from the experiments and to introduce collbaorative processes to enable these (or similar) experiments to be used as a foundation for larger, longer term projects, using an iterative, experimental approach.

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

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

Facilitators: Vali Lalioti, Nik Gaffney


a brief update on currently active and recently launched initiatives

We reviewed the progress and conclusions from three experiments; Transparency of Marine Industries and blue divestment, Plastic pollution from a systems change perspective and Game On!.

Transparency of Marine Industries

The Transparency of Marine Industries initiative sought to test the ideas around using transparency as a tool to improve the marine environment. The focus was on mapping existing initiatives, checking the availability of data sources & looking at what data may be required for informed decision making. What information is available? an overwhelming amount, making it practically impossible to look at everything. reducing the scope to include available shipping & fisheries data, the conclusion was that info is available, there are still significant gaps since technology is not always good enough to identify illegal fishing (for example). If data is available, it may not always used or discrepancies followed up. shipping data is patchy in places

The group is optimistic, but still somewhat confused about the scope and depth of the issues. Divestment in seafood companies with poor environmental and legal commitments is seen as viable (especially via pension funds) and there are several ideas about using financial sector as lever. While there are groups currently involved in divestment programmes, there is a concern that it may not be systemic enough, various initiatives could be brought together. There are good signs for financing opportunities as several investment companies are interested in fisheries reform (fisheries reform report. ref. heather). Scope for open data experiments. does open data, access & hacking a public API lead to new & unexpected results?


  • system mapping was important to understand scope, problems and new requirements.
  • better data, better use of data, new data required.


  • further diagnostics
  • crystallise objective → perhaps focus on IUU (Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing)
  • identify actors (e.g. financiers, consumers, supply chains)
  • impact diagnostics (where can impacts occur. e.g. fleet size, regions, etc)
  • what is the shared toolkit?

next steps

  • clarify - what is the change in the marine system which wish to see?
  • identify & connect with external actors to involve
  • identify some of the 'keystone' companies which have 'disproportionate effects on marine environment' (ref. nicola)
  • identify and clarify theories of change

work on how enforcement authorities can use the available data for prosecution

Plastic pollution

The Plastic pollution experiment centred on the question “how could me make London single use plastic bottle free by 2016”

After some background research conducted in Portugal and UK it was determined that it was not a crazy idea, and while it has a niche focus with a single issue, it is bold enough to be interesting. The experiment involved key informant interviews with 20~30 individuals directly involved with the issue. Data from sewage & waste companies in the UK was referenced. There could be a lot to learn from the various initiatives ot reduce plastic bag use and projects like litterati for photographing and geotagging rubbish. A complciating factor is that every London borough has a different waste management process, and one of the highest landfill/population ratios in EU.

ideas / next steps

  • London marathon - reusable bottle design as souvenir
  • changing ingrained behaviour on plastic as disposable
    • refill units at coffee shops (for example, sponsorship deals)
    • the 'considerate hoteliers' project 'fountains for the future'
  • opportunities to collaborate with existing initiatives.
  • 'surfers against sewage' proposed a contest to prototype small scale pilot project
  • pay attention to waste messaging issues (e.g. NW Europe is locked into incineration for power production with existing contracts for waste disposal & incineration. etc.)
  • a proposed manifesto for the Thames is inthe works, ask each of the next mayoral candidates to sign up?
  • a closer look at countries such as Denmark and Germany which have existing deposit schemes for glass & plastic bottles. compare reuse and recycling rates (ref. MCS)


  • validated hypothesis as 'not a crazy idea'
  • have determined ways to talk about issues more clearly
  • a platform is established (i.e. Selfridges events as an avenue for non-targeted change)


  • are there ideas around temporal scaling? week → month → forever (to align with existing initiatives)
  • are we compounding environmental issues by removing single use plastic bottles?
  • what are the impacts of the projected change?
  • any differences between high density and low density areas?

Game On!

The Game on experiment is looking at way to get the public more involved in influencing decision making process, in particular habitats directive. The experiment involves developing a game (board or computer game) to test the ideas.

The intitial conclusion is that it probably wouldn't help that much with specific issues, which led to a new hypothesis;

  • some kind of simulation for NGOs to help decision making wrt. campaigning could improve quality of outcomes.
  • an advocacy training tool to help NGOs understand legislative process, stakeholder analysis, negotiations
  • a game aimed at wider public, interested in involved in marine issues would need to be more 'general'


  • various discussions with young gamers (n=10~15 age ~10yrs) were held
  • discussions with existing stakeholders were held (internal)
  • simple example games described


  • general ocean education game could be interesting
  • “social innovation exchange” as possible venue for further development → half day workshop perhaps?

questions & comments

  • tie in with existing BBC projects, perhaps with new Ocean documentaries
  • other existing opportunities?
  • campaign / advocacy game sounds like a good idea (perhaps w. book “How to Campaign” as a basis)
  • existing game from 'seaworld' (? ask nicola) for advocacy and training
  • that games could be kept simple for training


The participants place most value the collaboration with everyone involved. They appreciate that the workshops have given them time to get to know each other, to learn about the expertise that exists in the group and hear about each other's current work. This has lead to interesting contributions to Marine CoLAB. New opportunities have emerged for the group as a whole, as well as several bilateral collaborations. Most participants felt that it was useful to spend time working on the “big picture”, with the intention of translating thier insights into in practical experiments. This translation was not always easy, particularly when participants’ ambitions exceed the time available for implementation between the workshops. The more concrete the experiments became and the more closely related to existing work, the easier it was to commit time and resources to their development. The themes that emerged from the workshops are interesting, although some participants doubt whether they are the most suitable, or sufficiently broad for longer term initiatives. The group found it challenging to find a comfortable balance between a lab-approach (e.g. iterative experiments) and the common NGO approach of long-term, high-impact campaigns. The facilitated process was generally valued as both a catalyst and a way to challenge, probe and test the ideas from different perspectives.

For the future, participants are wondering how to create initiatives that are greater than the sum of the work they currently do as individual organisations. More work on stakeholder engagement is needed, as is finding the right balance between inward and outward focused work. Another concern is whether the Marine CoLAB should focus on one or several initiatives. Focusing on a single initiative would have the benefit of everyone’s contribution, but it isn’t clear whether the whole group could work on a single issue and if a single issue can refelct the complexity of the situation. Even if participants decide to continue working on the existing experiments, they would like to find a way to collect new ideas as they emerge, and a maintain a place to discuss and develop them. Towards the end of the scoping phase, as the experiments developed, some participants expressed a need for more open-ended conversations and smaller working groups around specific issues. Time (between the workshops) and focus (of experiments) seem to have been, and will probably continue to be the biggest challenges for Marine CoLAB.

some workshop_notes

  • marine_colab/workshop_201507.txt
  • Last modified: 2016-08-10 08:09
  • by nik