Environmental Change Institute alumnus Al Harris has been honoured for his work with Blue Ventures, promoting sustainable conservation in Madagascar and beyond

We are pleased to announce that former Alum Al Harris and his NGO Blue Ventures have been awarded a prestigious Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship.

The awards, presented during the 12th Annual Skoll World Forum on April 16th, are given in recognition of transformative leaders who are "disrupting the status quo, driving large-scale change, and are poised to make an even greater impact on the world."

Among the four recipients was Al Harris, Alumnus of the ECI’s MSc in Environmental Change and Management course who founded the conservation NGO Blue Ventures.

"Ten years ago, in a coastal village in Madagascar, Alasdair Harris tested an elegantly simple model that put Blue Ventures on the map. He encouraged residents to take charge of their local fishery by cordoning off a small section of their octopus-fishing area for a designated period of time. When the area was re-opened, the community saw huge increases in their catch and incomes. Building on this success, local communities created Madagascar’s first local committee to manage and conserve marine resources. Since that auspicious start, Blue Ventures has helped replicate this model along thousands of miles of coastline along the Indian Ocean. Beyond managing fisheries, Blue Ventures has integrated family planning and health services into its livelihoods and conservation work, showing the world that protecting the ocean can and should go hand-in-hand with improving lives."

Blue Ventures also offers expeditions and volunteer opportunities for ocean enthusiasts, leveraging the skills as well as the fees of its customers to advance conservation solutions. Some of the key impacts of Blue Ventures work include permanent protection of 10% of Madagascar’s inshore seabed, and a rise in octopus yields by 50% thanks to conservation advice given to Mauritian officials.