The Ashoka System Changers: Alasdair Harris

The Ashoka System Changers #1: Alasdair Harris

This week in Oxford the 2016 Skoll World Forum and Marmalade will bring together thousands of people from the public, private, charity and social enterprise sectors to discuss solutions to global social and environmental issues. In just a matter of days the 2016 Skoll awardees will be announced. Hear from one of last year's winners and the founder of Blue Ventures Alasdair Harris in the film above.

Alasdair Harris is a marine biologist and the founder of Blue Ventures, which is an organisation that works with coastal communities around the world and educates them about why conservation makes business sense. He was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2007.

Blue Ventures promotes the creation of local, community-run Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) that increase the income of the fishing communities whilst protecting the marine environment. When these MPAs are closed off for just a few months at a time, fish stocks have time to recover and productivity is boosted. 

The idea is to reverse the effects of over fishing, which in turn means that local communities in countries such as Madagascar have a more steady and reliable income. The models developed by Blue Ventures have helped guide national policy on conservation and provided a framework adopted by other marine biology focussed organisations and NGOs.

Alasdair and his team of just over 100 employees deliver community health programmes in the coastal areas they work and run eco-tourism exhibitions through the social enterprise arm of the organisation, which provides a reliable income.

Over 800,000 football pitches of ocean and marine habitat are now managed by communities working with Blue Ventures and the organisation aims to reach at least three million people across the world’s tropical coastal regions by 2020.


Photo credit: Skoll World Forum