Chief Scientist Prof. Peter Mumby delivers the plenary presentation at the 2016 Stakeholder Forum in Manila. (Photo: M. Paterson).

Collaboration, feedback point us in the right direction

Most scientists working on the Capturing Coral Reef & Related Ecosystem Services (CCRES) project find themselves outside their comfort zone at some point.

Yet what we’ve learnt is that while multi-disciplinary collaboration may not be easy, there is huge value in bringing people from different disciplines and backgrounds together.

The project’s annual planning workshops are designed to bring together all of the team members to converse, plan and collaborate not only within their components and activities, but also across activities, components and disciplines.

Dr Firdaus Agung, from one of our partner agencies, the Ministry of Marine Affairs & Fisheries, Indonesia, addresses the Planning Workshop. (Photo: M. Paterson).

This month, however, we went one step further.

The 2016 planning workshop, staged in Manila, Philippines, this month, was scheduled to coincide with our first stakeholder forum. This provided an opportunity for CCRES researchers to engage with beneficiaries and stakeholders from the Philippines and Indonesia to gain insights and ideas into the early outputs from their work.

During a series of engaging sessions - attended by more than 130 conference delegates - we obtained feedback into the development of CCRES knowledge products and technical tools. These tools (a guide to them can be found here) are being developed to assist coastal resource managers, policy officers, planners and government officials make day-to-day decisions.

We learned which research activities and decision-support tools our beneficiaries wish to use, what changes they would like made to improve them and how (and where) they think they will use them.

It has been said that ‘feedback is the breakfast of champions’. Well, we found that it is also inspiring.

Not only do we have a  better understanding of the ‘whole of the parts’ for the CCRES project  and a clear direction for how we can integrate our research activities, but we’ve also identified clear opportunities for scaling up the use of CCRES tools by governments, agencies, NGOs, knowledge networks and other technical projects in the East Asia-Pacific region.

The path towards our goal of strengthening the implementation of coastal ecosystem management plans starts with a conversation. Yet, it is collaboration and innovation which continue the journey and thanks to the involvement of our partners, beneficiaries and stakeholders during the past month, we are well on the way to our destination.

Melanie King, Senior Advisor