Ocean Community Study


Grant Recipient:  The Aspen Institute
Project Support:  Ocean Community Study
Term:  2011/2012

The Aspen Institute mission is to foster values-based leadership, encouraging individuals to reflect on the ideals and ideas that define a good society, and to provide a neutral and balanced venue for discussing and acting on critical issues. The Aspen Institute Energy and Environment Program provides leadership and a neutral forum for improving policy making through intentional values-based dialogue in the areas of energy and environmental policy. For over 35 years, the Energy and Environment Program has directly sought to improve the quality of leadership and the formation of policy through dialogue on the environmental challenges facing societies and organizations. Through a form of intentional dialogue that fosters candid exchange among people of diverse viewpoints, the Program seeks solutions to, or seeks to better frame the questions regarding, important energy and environmental policy issues.

The Study – Download the Ocean Community Report

The Ocean Community Report targets several key areas of opportunity in which the ocean conservation community can improve its efficacy. These opportunities include strengthening collaboration between conservation groups (and creating funder incentives to do so) and developing an information clearinghouse for the community through which efforts can be aligned. The report also highlights the importance of improving communications by reframing conservation within other nationally prioritized issues such as economic development or food security, including the voices of unorthodox stakeholders, and training political and business leaders to become informed spokespeople for conservation. 

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Aspen’s focus is on strengthening MPA policy success & MPA advocacy effectiveness through information feedback loops – self-assessment, planning and evaluation.

This report is a product of the Energy & Environment Program’s Ocean Community Study & Dialogue, a year-long study of opportunities for improving the design and implementation of spatial management strategies and policies that can reduce the impact of overfishing on ecosystems and fisheries biomass. In this study, the Aspen Institute partnered with Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and the Institute’s own Advocacy Planning and Evaluation Program to survey recent funding, policy and advocacy related to establishing marine protected areas.  

Adding to the findings in these studies, the Institute also convened an in-person, multiday dialogue at Fort Baker, California, in December 2012 among some thirty members of the ocean conservation community, including major funders, marine scientists, policymakers and conservation leaders.

This initiative built on the Institute’s previous work on conservation and marine protection, including the Aspen Dialogue and Commission on Arctic Climate Change, and Dialogue Series on Conservation in the 21st Century. The Energy & Environment Program is now developing initiatives on scaling marine spatial planning, the role of sustainable fisheries in food security, and the impact of climate change on our oceans.


The Aspen Institute collaborated with several organization on the Oceans Community Study & Dialogue:

Aspen Institute Advocacy Planning & Evaluation Program
Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions


The Aspen Institute Website

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