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Posted By Ben Metz blog
On 11 June 2011 - 3:49pm

Last night in New York Al Harris, founder of Blue Ventures, picked up “Socially-Responsible Design’s Highest Award” – The Buckminster Fuller Challenge.

I’ve been working with Al and the team for a couple of years now, helping think through how to develop the organisation’s work.  Recently our efforts have been bearing fruit with almost USD $2 million of grant funding secured over the last six months.  However all this has been project funding, leaving little “wiggle room” to undertake organisational development, build core competencies and take advantage of the opportunities presented by these new funding streams.

Last night that changed with USD $100,000 being secured as part of the Buckminster Fuller Challenge prize package.  Now Blue Ventures has the much sought after core funding it needs to take best advantage of the opportunities before it!

Below is the text of the press release issued by BV last night.

Blue Ventures wins Buckminster Fuller Challenge

Marine conservation group awarded for its unique work that integrates socio-economic development with natural resource protection

New York, 11 June 2011.  Blue Ventures, a London-based marine conservation organization, won the prestigious Buckminster Fuller Challenge award last night for its work to protect marine resources and improve the livelihoods of poor coastal communities in Madagascar.

During an awards ceremony in New York City, Blue Ventures was selected from 165 entries from more than 35 countries as winner of the $100,000 award.

“The Buckminster Fuller Challenge is the premier global competition recognising initiatives which take a comprehensive, anticipatory approach to radically advance human well-being and the health of our planet’s ecosystems.” said Jonathan Katz, Chairman of Blue Ventures’ board of trustees. “With the help of this award, we are now expanding our work and replicating our projects around the world to demonstrate how nature and human well-being are inextricably linked.”

Blue Ventures integrates marine conservation with economic and social development strategies in order to improve the livelihoods of some of the world’s poorest coastal communities in Madagascar and elsewhere.

The Buckminster Fuller Challenge recognised Blue Venture for its unique whole-system approach – combining scientific research, the development of sustainable aquaculture, family planning support, environmental education, and the creation of community-led protected areas – to bring direct benefits to both people and nature.

“Alongside the ecosystem and fisheries benefits of conservation, we’re diversifying incomes, and empowering women often for the first time in their lives with the ability to make their own reproductive health choices” said Fanja Rakotozafy, a Reproductive Health Officer with Blue Ventures in Madagascar.

Dubbed “Socially-Responsible Design’s Highest Award” by Metropolis Magazine, the Challenge uses a distinguished jury to award visionary initiatives that provide tangible solutions to some of the most pressing challenges facing the world today.  In recent weeks, results of Blue Ventures pioneering work have demonstrated for the first time that community-based marine conservation brings direct economic benefits to traditional fishing communities. Because of these benefits, fisheries management models developed by Blue Ventures in the Indian Ocean have been replicated by coastal communities in over 100 sites along several hundred kilometers of coastline, and have given rise to new national environmental legislation in Madagascar.

About Blue Ventures

Blue Ventures is an award-winning marine conservation organisation, dedicated to working with local communities to conserve threatened marine environments. Our highly acclaimed conservation programmes work with some of the world’s poorest coastal communities to develop conservation and alternative income initiatives to protect biodiversity and coastal livelihoods. The results of our work help us to propose new ideas to benefit coastal communities everywhere.

See Blue Ventures’ 2010 Do Lecture describing how the Vezo people of Madagascar are leading the way for marine sustainability, putting much of the rest of the world to shame (

For more information about Blue Ventures’ conservation work, please visit:

For more information about Blue Ventures’ expeditions, please visit:

About The Buckminster Fuller Institute

Founded in 1983 and headquartered in New York, The Buckminster Fuller Institute is dedicated to accelerating the development and deployment of solutions which radically advance human well-being and the health of our planet’s ecosystems.

BFI aims to deeply influence the ascendance of a new generation of design-science pioneers who are leading the creation of an abundant and restorative world economy that benefits all humanity. BFI’s programs combine unique insight into global trends and local needs with a comprehensive approach to design.

For further information, please visit: