VIEWPOINT: Forging ahead while sticking to your roots

Posted on 29 April 2014    
Jackie Thomas
© Theresa Ralogaivau/WWF SPPO
Three years after the WWF Coral Triangle programme staff met in Brisbane to review the initiative's progress, the team gathers again to carve out a new strategic direction. Jackie looks back at that meeting and muses on how the programme has evolved - and why it is important to grow without losing your roots.

It seems like yesterday that the WWF Coral Triangle programme staff gathered in a house close to Brisbane to plan the year ahead for our respective work threads. Sitting around a table, with the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop a few hundred metres down the road, each team member presented his or her strategy with the collective input from the rest of the team.

That was in 2011. Three years down the track, here we are in Australia again with WWF team members from the Coral Triangle, Pacific, US and Europe to develop the WWF Coral Triangle Strategic Plan for FY15-FY17, and to identify several signature projects to accelerate the impact of the programme.

I can’t help but look back at that previous ‘get together’ a few years ago to take stock of our progress. This is not just about fond recollections of good times together. As we get caught up in the reality of setting targets and ensuring that we are on track to reach them, it is sometimes easy to forget where we come from and lose track of our journey to date.

Today, the WWF Coral Triangle programme is all about “healthy people, healthy marine ecosystems and sustainable livelihoods”. This focus has shaped 3 strategies to help deliver on the implementation of an Ecosystems Approach to Fisheries Management: (i) Policy and Advocacy; (ii) Business and Industry Engagement and Innovation; and (iii) Marketing and Communications, neatly dovetailing Goal 2 of the CTI –CFF Regional Plan of Action (RPOA) and contributing to the delivery of other targets in the RPOA. Through this 3- year programme due to start in July 2014, we are reaffirming our commitment as a development partner to the CTI-CFF.

As I recall our discussions in 2011, it is clear how our programme is increasingly sharpening its focus. We have built on lessons learned to invest our resources and efforts where we can deliver the most impacts, rather than trying to achieve too much over multiple work strands (often a temptation!).

Our aim through the new strategic plan is to illustrate the importance of the Coral Triangle for food, sustainable fisheries and livelihood security and continue to build collaborative partnerships with Governments, the private sector and civil society. Our new strategy is an invitation to make shared investments in the sustainable management of the Coral Triangle’s marine resources and the protection, restoration and resiliency of its critical marine ecosystems.

WWF will strive to achieve this through demonstrating the effectiveness of key platforms designed to leverage improved policies, transformed business behaviour (focussing on fisheries, aquaculture and the tourism sector) and motivated investment institutions.

I’m looking forward to sharing the new strategic plan with colleagues from around the WWF global network at the Annual Conference in May. There we will also highlight some exciting new projects which we believe will deliver major impacts on the water – these include protection of juvenile tuna spawning areas, community networks to tackle IUU fishing through technology, standards and best practices for tourism and showcasing the outstanding beauty and critical importance of marine managed areas around the Coral Triangle for fisheries, food security and livelihoods.

So until 2017 then, when I might look back at this article and assess how we have have grown and improved our conservation work.
Jackie Thomas
© Theresa Ralogaivau/WWF SPPO Enlarge

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