Building Alliances for the Ocean with Patagonia

Last April, 12 French NGOs committed to the protection of marine biodiversity met for a three-day workshop in Maison Glaz, a seaside tiers-lieu – a community-driven place where people can meet, eat, work, and stay — dedicated to social and climate action on the Gâvres peninsula, in the north-west of France.

Ending deep-sea trawling

12 NGOs joined forces with the Patagonia team in Maison Glaz.

Why? Because Patagonia – that’s the outdoor clothing brand that made the Earth its sole stakeholder last year – is launching a global campaign to protect the oceans and to do so, wants to support and engage with NGOs across the planet. In Europe, the call to action revolves around the ban of bottom trawling, especially in marine protected areas. Bottom trawling is a controversial method of fishing where large, heavy-weighted nets are dragged across the seafloor to catch as much product as possible. According to the French NGO BLOOM which participated in the workshop, “deep-sea bottom trawling can be compared to bulldozers clear-cutting a tropical forest.”

Inclusive Innovation was privileged to facilitate the workshop, called “Mini Tools Ocean,” which was meant to (1) share essential skills to help the NGOs’ daily work on topics like advocacy or citizen engagement and (2) create synergies between the NGOs’ individual actions and the broader Patagonia campaign.

What do I think about when I look at the ocean?

How might the NGOs’ individual actions resonate with the Patagonia Ocean campaign?

Ulysse Robach, an Environment and Marketing Specialist at Patagonia and workshop organizer, said the goal was to bring together actors that knew about each other without actually knowing each other and invite them to work together on common actions for the protection of marine biodiversity, using the Patagonia campaign as a common window of opportunity. “The workshop was a moment of hope,” said Ulysse, “where we realized how engaged and invested the NGOs were, bringing in a conviction that things can change.”

One challenge was to create a space where participants could share and listen to each other, recognizing that they may have diverging visions of what marine conservation means. “The Inclusive Innovation team helped create this space, recognizing that synergies and compromises are possible only if we make sure everyone’s visions are represented.” This started with simple conversations like “What do I think about when I look at the ocean?” to more complex questions like “How might we collectively influence future EU decisions related to deep-sea trawling?”

Rolling up our sleeves

Building miniature models to represent the NGOs’ work.

An essential step in this process was to map the ecosystem that the different NGOs represent. To do this, we asked NGOs to create a map of their actions and then roll up their sleeves to illustrate a few of them in the form of real-life miniature models, or, “prototypes.” Léa Brassy is a surf ambassador for Patagonia who attended the workshop to share her unique sensitivity to marine life. “I was pleasantly surprised by the way the miniature models helped us understand what each of us does, the connections between these actions, and what we might do collectively,” says Léa. Using miniature models allowed participants to think in more creative ways and to identify connections they might not have thought of otherwise.

In the end, participants went back to their respective NGOs with many opportunities to collaborate that emerged during the workshop. Philippe Garcia is the President of Défense des Milieux Aquatiques, an NGO specializing in legal action to protect marine ecosystems. “By the end of the workshop, we became a soccer team whose key objective is to score goals to create impact.” Leaving Maison Glaz with at least seven or eight concrete initiatives to follow up on, Philippe hopes that the Patagonia campaign and the collaboration process initiated with French NGOs on the ground will create a chemistry fierce enough to both impact future decisions on sea trawling and showcase positive alternatives.

Attending NGOs: BLOOM, Blutopia, Des Requins et des Hommes, Défense des Milieux Aquatiques, Eaux et Rivières de Bretagne, France Nature Environnement, LPO, Longitude 181, Look Down Action SOA, Pleine Mer, Sailing Hirondelle, SeaSheperd France

Learn more about the Patagonia Ocean campaign and how to take action here.