Supporting Systems Change with the Bioneers

Future of Fish was invited to speak at our first National Bioneers Conference in October in Marin, California. Founded in 1990, Bioneers “has acted as a fertile hub of social and scientific innovators with practical and visionary solutions for the world’s most pressing environmental and social challenges.” This year’s theme was “Uprising” and focused on models and strategies for climate action, ending extreme inequality, building democracy, racial and gender equity, women’s leadership, and restoring land, water, air, and biodiversity. 
Marah Hardt, Future of Fish’s Research Director, joined fellow panelists Bren Smith, founder of GreenWave (and an original Future of Fish pod member) and Dr. Teresa Ryan with the Pacific Salmon Commission for a session titled “From Plunder to Restoration: Re-Designing the Human-Ocean Relationship.”
Marah presented our Fisheries Development Model (FDM) as an innovative approach to co-designing interventions that foster sustainable, investable, traceable fisheries. Over 50 people from diverse backgrounds attended the panel, and the idea of a systems-change approach to fisheries development was well-received. 
Though this was one of only two ocean-focused panels at the event, many other sessions also discussed the application of systems-change thinking in natural resource restoration and management. It was a great opportunity for learning from other practitioners working to tackle complex problems. Keynote speaker Dr. Jody Holmes, for example, detailed her work with the Rainforest Solutions Project. Over twenty years, this coalition of industry actors, indigenous groups, environmental non-profits, and Canadian government officials carved out the historic Great Bear Rainforest Agreements, protecting the largest expanses of old growth temperate rainforest in the world. 
Looking to nature for solutions, as well as the people living and working within the system on the day-to-day basis, is core to Future of Fish’s theory of change. Though there were few fishheads at the Bioneers event, we were nonetheless in good company.