Oceans Programming

The Institute’s oceans programming includes the Ocean Community Strategy Roundtable (2014) and the Ocean Community Study and Dialogue (2013). These initiatives built on the Institute’s previous work on conservation and marine protection, including the Aspen Dialogue and Commission on Arctic Climate Change and Dialogue Series on Conservation in the 21st Century. The Energy & Environment Program continues to develop programming in this area, currently building initiatives on scaling marine spatial planning, the role of sustainable fisheries in food security, and the impact of climate change on our oceans.


The Ocean Community Strategy Roundtable was convened at Aspen Wye River in December 2013 to assess the steps required for scaling investment in and deployment of ocean conservation tools in both small-scale coastal fisheries and large-scale MPAs. This roundtable served as a platform for the ocean community to align socioeconomic and conservation goals, including the promotion of Public- Private Partnerships through a new set of stakeholders, from policymakers to fishermen.

The Roundtable report focuses on several key areas as potential keys to the success of new conservation models being used to scale marine protection efforts, particularly the development of government-led change through PPPs, the role of corporations with shared agendas in promoting conservation, and new subcontractor models of conservation implementation.

Aspen_Institute-Report_of_the_Ocean_Community_Strategy_Roundtable-6_2014_1-COVERPAGE-page-001Download the Report of the Ocean Community Strategy Roundtable (2014)


The Ocean Community Report is a product of the Energy & Environment Program’s  Ocean Community Study & Dialogue (2012-2013), a year-long study of opportunities for improving the design and implementation of spatial management strategies and policies that can reduce the impact of overfishing on ecosystems and fisheries biomass. In this study, the Aspen Institute partnered with Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and the Institute’s own Advocacy Planning and Evaluation Program to survey recent funding, policy and advocacy related to establishing marine protected areas.

Adding to the findings in these studies, the Institute also convened an in-person, multi-day dialogue at Fort Baker, California, in December 2012. Some thirty members of the ocean conservation community, including major funders, marine scientists, policymakers and conservation leaders were present.

The resulting Ocean Community Report targets several key areas of opportunity in which the ocean conservation community can improve its efficacy. These opportunities include strengthening collaboration between conservation groups (and creating funder incentives to do so) and developing an information clearinghouse for the community through which efforts can be aligned. The report also highlights the importance of improving communications by reframing conservation within other nationally prioritized issues such as economic development or food security, including the voices of unorthodox stakeholders, and training political and business leaders to become informed spokespeople for conservation.

Aspen_Institute-OCEAN_COMMUNITY_REPORT-Cover%20Page-page-001Download the Ocean Community Report (2013)

Our Partners

The Aspen Institute collaborated with several organizations on the Oceans Community Study & Dialogue:
•Aspen Institute Advocacy Planning & Evaluation Program
•Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

Our sincere gratitude to the Waitt Foundation for their dedication and support of these efforts.