- Organizational Strategic Planning
- Coalition Management
- Campaign Evaluations
- Landscape Analysis
The Monterey Bay Aquarium, a premier aquarium based in California and well-known for its commitment to ocean conservation, approached Engage with a bold but untested idea: Could aquariums band together to elevate their trusted, unique voice in ocean conservation debates and, if so, how might an effort be structured and launched?
We began with a viability assessment. Engage met with the project team to define the overall value proposition and desired issue outcomes. We then conducted extensive interviews with a diverse array of stakeholders to get candid feedback and understand the overall value, operating context and resonance of likely goals.
Engage also reviewed potential organizational models, operating structures, and funding approaches. Our scan included a review of similar formal and informal partnerships in the conservation community as well as functionally similar, but substantively diverse, models in business, education or other sectors. We identified best practices and potential pitfalls, and strategies and tactics that might be used. The phase concluded with a written assessment of findings and strategic recommendations.
In 2015, Monterey Bay Aquarium moved forward with Engage’s proposal, a two-year pilot initiative – called the Aquarium Conservation Partnership—focused on a primary goal of reducing sources of ocean plastic pollution with additional goals of increasing protection of ocean and freshwater ecosystems, preserving global shark, ray and skate populations, and improving the sustainability of fisheries and aquaculture. Monterey Bay Aquarium partnered with Shedd and National Aquariums and created a founders committee to fund and support the second phase of the project. Next, Engage put its findings to work, designing an organizational plan and scope of work, identifying leadership, setting goals and objectives, and creating a two-year timeline and operating budget. We developed an operating charter and worked with the project team to define a two-year Action Agenda to guide meaningful outcomes during the pilot phase.
The Aquarium Conservation Partnership was officially launched in 2016. By 2017 over 20 member aquariums were adding powerful new capacity for meaningful long-term conservation impact and regularly contributing to the global scientific and policy dialogue around ocean and freshwater conservation. In its first two years the ACP provided scientific and public support that led to designation of a new National Marine Monument and expansion of another. It issued 16 joint letters to support government action on ocean and freshwater conservation. It supported the creation of a new U.S. program to track seafood and combat illegal fishing. It developed, tested and deployed a powerful, coordinated digital consumer campaign and messaging assets aimed at reducing single use plastic, generating 360 stories reaching over 120 million readers. And it deepened institutional credibility and mobilized consumer and business partner change through collective commitments to reduce single use plastic at institutions.
Engage has since supported additional phases of the ACP initiative, helping facilitate an Aquarium Plastic Pollution Symposium and a Breaking Down Plastics Summit, offering interim operational support during a period of leadership change, and in 2017, after the two-year pilot period concluded, conducting an evaluation of activities and offering future planning recommendations. Engage presented the Outcomes and Recommendations Report to the leadership in the fall of 2017. Based on the findings, the founders voted to extend the pilot for an additional two years.