Creating a Market for Lionfish

By: Jen Chapman (2014 Fellow) In this interview, Jen describes what sparked her passion for the mari

Addressing Problems Around the World

By Andrew Goldberg, 2014 Kinship Fellow I’m back in Asheville after spending July in Bellingha

WEBINAR: From Sea to Fork

From Sea to Fork: How Industry Collaborations Drive Change in Sustainable Seafood from the Net to Yo


Creating a Market for Lionfish

September 15, 2014 in Economics and Business, Ecosystems & Biodiversity, Environmental Education, Mechanisms for Market-based Conservation

By: Jen Chapman (2014 Fellow)

In this interview, Jen describes what sparked her passion for the marine environment and how she works to create an active and diverse market for lionfish with Blue Ventures in Belize. This interview is part of a Fisheries Series this fall, featuring webinars as well as articles like on The Kinship Lens.

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.

I consider myself extremely lucky to have been raised in Singapore and South Africa, and by parents who love travelling and the outdoors. My upbringing is definitely the source of my passion for the marine environment. I remember snorkelling on Malaysian coral reefs as a child, finding a hawksbill turtle that had died entangled in a discarded fishing net, seeing shark fins drying on lines in villages, and my heart breaking when I saw the fish that I loved to see on the reef, in live seafood restaurants’ aquaria.

As I became more interested in coral reefs and fisheries, I became appalled by the methods that are used to harvest these precious resources and the associated inequality in distribution of wealth. When I finished my biology degree, I returned to South East Asia to complete a coral reef conservation internship with Endangered Species International in the Philippines and then worked as a biologist and project manager for Ecofieldtrips.

Whilst exploring the fantastic biodiversity of the Coral Triangle, I realised that my passion lay in practical conservation work, and I had a strong desire to try living somewhere I had never been before. I was thrilled to start working for Blue Ventures in Belize in 2011 and have absolutely fallen in love with this beautiful country. Sometimes, I have to pinch myself when I bump into a manatee on a water quality monitoring trip, or whilst gearing up for an early dive at our field site, Bacalar Chico; a time often coupled with an unbeatable sunrise! I am based at our office in Belize’s largest fishing village, Sarteneja, and from the moment I got off the bus, I felt at home. That feeling has never left.

Q: The major hurdle in encouraging fishermen to catch and restaurants to source lionfish, is their venomous spines. How does Blue Ventures handle educating communities about this?

Fishers Workshop. Sarteneja Fishermen Association.

Fishers Workshop. Sarteneja Fishermen Association.

Since mid-2011, we have held regular lionfish safe handling demonstrations with fishers and often couple these with tasters and information booths for the general public. These events invariably start with a presentation reviewing the lionfish invasion, so that everyone understands the negative impacts this invasive fish has on Caribbean reefs, after which we pull out the first of many dead, whole lionfish. Our objective is to show that getting a lionfish market-ready is not so tricky, as long as you know the location of the venomous spines.

Most people are aware of the large dorsal spines, but the smaller spines located on the pelvic and anal fins are less obvious and are usually the source of a sting. We also place a heavy emphasis on the effective use of hot water as first aid, as well as the difference between poisonous (don’t eat) and venomous (don’t touch).

After the first demonstration, fishers in the audience are invited to try cleaning and filleting lionfish, and offered tasters of lionfish ceviche and empanadas. During our first events, people were very hesitant to try and some outright refused; now, fishers bring lionfish home to feed to their families.

Q: Lionfish has been featured on menus in Sarteneja, Belize for a few years now. Are you seeing interest from consumers outside that community? How is Blue Ventures working to increase demand?

Yes, definitely. We work to increase demand through media appearances, submitting articles to national newspapers, as well as holding regular taster events. We are aiming at expanding our social marketing campaign to include roadside banners, t-shirt distribution, and radio adverts. We also partner with the Southern Environmental Association to conduct an annual lionfish culling derby, an event that always gets people talking about lionfish.

I suppose, in reality it’s quite simple – at every opportunity, we are there talking about lionfish, giving out tasters, playing lionfish themed games, and wearing lionfish t-shirts! To help restaurants in selling this relatively new food item, we provide marketing assistance in the form of posters, table tents, and menu inserts encouraging the consumer to try this delicious and environmentally sound seafood choice.

Q: What are the major advances you’ve seen in the last year or so in your project?

Lionfish Catch. Photo by Lee Mcloughlin.

Lionfish Catch. Photo by Lee Mcloughlin.

In mid-2013, we partnered with a US-based seafood distributor, Traditional Fisheries, and Placencia’s fishing cooperative to facilitate the first international export of lionfish from Belize. All went smoothly, however a subsequent increase in shipping costs means that we have to find an alternative route to meet the international demand. Nevertheless, the first export did attract a great deal of media attention, and fishers began to deliver lionfish to the Placencia Cooperative for distribution nationally.

In 2014, seeing an increase in demand, we partnered with the Sarteneja Fishermen Association to train another 32 fishers on lionfish safe-handling and to develop fisher-restaurant partnerships. Over the last month in particular, we have seen a huge increase in the number of fishers targeting lionfish, which they are selling to restaurants around Belize.

As of September 2014, lionfish can be found for sale in all six districts in Belize, and more restaurants are reaching out to us to develop partnerships with fishers. That’s not to say there isn’t still work to be done; we want to see lionfish in all restaurants in Belize, and eaten in homes across the country! We’re in the process of collecting data from restaurants to get an estimate of current turnover – a figure I’m excited to see. Another interesting development has been lionfish jewellery production, which has boomed in the last six months.

Q: Are you willing to share your favorite lionfish recipe?

Photo by Gordon Kirkwood.

Lionfish ceviche. Photo by Gordon Kirkwood.

I can never get enough lionfish ceviche – and it’s so easy to make! Raw, cubed lionfish fillet is marinated in a delicious concoction of tomato, onion, cilantro and lime – the lime cooks the fish, so when you see it has turned white, you know it’s ready.







Interested in learning more about Blue Ventures’ work with lionfish? Check out the resources below.

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Chapman, Jennifer - photoJen Chapman is the Country Coordinator for Blue Ventures in Belize, where she has led the development of research and conservation programmes since 2011. A key part of this has been leading the promotion of market-based strategies to address invasive lionfish populations, including the successful development of international export and domestic markets. Prior to working in Belize, Jen was based in Singapore, where she was responsible for developing and leading educational fieldtrips throughout South East Asia, specialising in marine biology, conservation and environmental education. She received a Bachelor of Science with honours in Biology from the University of Southampton in the UK, where she subsequently worked as a research assistant investigating the environmental sustainability of bioenergy crops. Jen believes passionately that innovative, sustainable, market-led approaches are required to solve problems of depletion of marine resources – the recovery of which are inextricably linked to human health, wealth and happiness.

Addressing Problems Around the World

September 4, 2014 in About Kinship, Carbon

By Andrew Goldberg, 2014 Kinship Fellow

Andrew introducing himself to the group on Day 1 of Kinship Fellows.

Andrew introducing himself to the group on Day 1 of Kinship Fellows.

I’m back in Asheville after spending July in Bellingham, Washington as a 2014 Kinship Conservation Fellow. I’ve returned to work at Dogwood Alliance with a new appreciation for the global nature of environmental problems, the diverse tools used to achieve conservation success, as well as many great new friends from my wonderfully diverse cohort.

While I originally viewed the fellowship as a way to deepen my understanding on the workings of conservation through forest carbon like our Carbon Canopy work, the program took me on a deep dive into tools used to address problems across the world.

” … the program took me on a deep dive into tools used to address problems across the world.”


Norbu and Andrew and other Fellows from the 2014 Cohort.

For example, my new friend Tsering Norbu from the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, who founded and leads the Pendeba Society, which is focused on environmental conservation of the high plateau around Mt. Everest, preventive health care and eco-tourism income generation from the growing number of Chinese and international tourists coming to visit the Everest region. His work is about as different from Dogwood’s work with the forests of the US South as it can be. Norbu told me about his project to address the loss of wetlands on the Tibetan high plateau by teaching local people to build their livestock corrals from stone instead of using traditional turf corrals where the turf had been historically dug up from the scarce and ecological valuable wetlands. In addition to protecting their water security, the new stone corrals last for many years instead of the short-lived turf construction.

Another key takeaway for me was that so many of the world’s environmental problems are more properly construed as social problems. For example, forests are cut down, not to make money, but instead to provide heat and fuel for a family in need. Therefore social solutions like economic development to alleviate poverty or a technical fix like the introductions of more responsible charcoal production are truly critical. Thankfully, while there are certainly many in need, we do not experience that kind of poverty across our region.

Beyond Tibet, there were sessions on water markets, carbon markets, biodiversity offsets, and more. The Kinship cohort came to the program with projects from around the world, like Jen Chapman’s stopping invasive lionfish through commercial fishing in Belize, and Greg Martindale’s supporting economic development in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa by developing markets for wild-raised game meat produced on game farms, etc.

2014 Cohort (Taken by Matthew King at WWU)

The 2014 Cohort.

Back in Asheville, I am working with our Carbon Canopy partners and the Dogwood team to analyze our progress to date on our 12,500 acres forest carbon pilot projects as well as our 2,100 acres in development. The new ideas and examples I learned at Kinship weave into our at Dogwood work as well. And metaphorically, I will be working alongside my global Kinship cohort. Building new markets for ecosystem services like forest carbon is hard, particularly when, like here, the system of exploitation for forest products is so deeply ingrained in the region’s economy and culture. But we will persevere and come together to make our work more effective and strategic.

Thanks Kinship.

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Andrew Goldberg is an attorney who serves as Dogwood Alliance’s chief corporate negotiator and point person for large corporate paper consumers working to develop and implement environmental paper procurement policies. His focus is on forest products supply chain sustainability, corporate social responsibility and emerging market tools for forest conservation. A former Appalachian thru-hiker, he now logs miles chasing his children. He was a 2014 Kinship Conservation Fellow.
This article was originally posted on the Dogwood Alliance blog.

WEBINAR: From Sea to Fork

August 29, 2014 in Conservation Collaborations, Economics and Business, Ecosystems & Biodiversity

From Sea to Fork: How Industry Collaborations Drive Change in Sustainable Seafood from the Net to Your Table

 aug2014_seatoforkThis webinar explores two distinct yet complimentary organizations’ roles within the sustainable seafood movement: Sustainable Fisheries Partnership and Shedd Aquarium’s Right Bite program. Participants learn about the operations, scope, and mission of each and get an insider’s perspective on how collaboration between partners such as Shedd and SFP is vital to the success and growth of the sustainable seafood movement.

Aislinn Gauchay of Shedd and Kathryn Novak of SFP demonstrate how all players in the market – from NGO’s to consumers, and distributors to fishermen – must be committed to sustainability for there to be true and lasting change in the seafood industry.


WEBINAR – From Sea to Fork: How Industry Collaborations Drive Change in Sustainable Seafood from the Net to Your Table from Kinship Conservation Fellows on Vimeo.

Webinar Presenter Bios:

Headshot gauchayAislinn Gauchay, Manager, Great Lakes and Sustainability, oversees the strategic management, organization and implementation of the Great Lakes and Sustainability department and Shedd’s environmental initiatives, including: Great Lakes conservation, sustainable seafood, and general sustainable practices. Gauchay engages with diverse audiences from the Great Lakes community to build issue awareness and to position Shedd as a trusted voice and conservation leader. Gauchay also manages the Midwest’s leading sustainable seafood initiative, Right Bite, working with thousands of individuals, families and culinary professionals to increase the availability of sustainable seafood in Chicago’s vibrant marketplace. Gauchay began her career at Shedd in the Development Department as the Coordinator of Donor Relations and Special Events where she executed over 100 events annually including the Auxiliary Board’s primary fundraising event BLU.  Aislinn’s transition to conservation began when she became co-trip leader of Shedd Aquarium’s Iguana Research Expedition in the Bahamas in 2011 and 2012.  Aislinn was a member of New York University’s archaeological excavations team in Egypt’s Dakhleh Oasis and graduated with honors from Illinois Wesleyan University with a B.A. in Greek and Roman Studies.

Kathryn NovakKathryn Novak is the Director of Buyer Engagement at Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP). She joined SFP in 2009, just two years into the organization’s existence, and helped to shape the development of what is now the Buyer Engagement Division. In that role, Kathryn has been the architect of much of the way that SFP approaches its corporate Partners. In addition to overseeing the Buyer Engagement team, she serves as the liaison to nearly a dozen of SFP’s largest partners, including Walmart, Sam’s Club, High Liner, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, and Publix Super Markets. She is responsible for helping them to develop and implement sustainable seafood policies, and works closely with their supply chains to coordinate engagement in fishery and aquaculture improvement projects. Previous to SFP, Kathryn began her conservation career at the Ocean Conservancy, where she worked with fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico to improve their fishing practices. Originally from Saratoga, New York, Kathryn has a B.A. in Communications from the State University of New York at Albany. She is based in Colorado.

WEBINAR: Business Planning Series – Revenue Models

August 21, 2014 in Economics and Business, Funding, Fundraising, and Finance, Leadership and Business Skills

july2014_biz2_emailerBuilding on the basics presented earlier this year, Ruth Norris, a member of the Kinship Fellows Faculty and executive coach and organizational effectiveness consultant, probes deeper into social sector business revenue models. Case studies represented by the work of Kinship Fellows: Arshiya Bose (2013), Sarah Charlop-Powers (2009), Scott Gillilan (2009), and Heather Webb (2009) aid in demonstrating models.

To see the first webinar in the Business Planning Series, click here.



WEBINAR: Business Planning Series Part 2: Revenue Model Case Studies from Kinship Conservation Fellows on Vimeo.

Norris, RuthRuth Norris is an executive coach and organizational effectiveness consultant whose clients include philanthropic foundations, bilateral and multilateral development assistance agencies, and social change organizations, particularly in the field of environmental conservation.  She has worked with the Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation’s Organizational Effectiveness program, grantees of Resources Legacy Fund and the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation and was a leader in the development of programs funded by the World Bank Global Environment Facility and USAID/Enterprise of the Americas Initiative establishing national environmental endowments in developing countries.

Her consulting practice focuses on managing organizational culture and teams, business and revenue planning, and entrepreneurial approaches to conservation and social change, including messaging and marketing.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and mass communications and a master’s degree in journalism. She has also completed extensive nondegree academic and practical studies in human and organizational psychology and behavior, as well as organizational management and leadership.  She is fluent in Spanish.

WEBINAR: State of the Voluntary Carbon Report

August 19, 2014 in Carbon

june2014_kincarbonJoin Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace in a webinar celebrating the release of findings from their State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2014 carbon markets industry benchmark survey. The webinar highlights 2013 trends in the voluntary carbon market and discusses how governments are tapping into the expertise of the voluntary markets in developing compliance emissions reduction programs. It describes in detail the motivations of voluntary buyers of carbon offsets and outlines which project types were most attractive to these buyers last year.

For the presentation slides, click here. For the webinar recording, see below. For more resources from Ecosystem Marketplace about the State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets Report, click here.

WEBINAR: State of the Voluntary Carbon Market Report from Kinship Conservation Fellows on Vimeo.

Ecosystem Marketplace, a project of Forest Trends, is a leading source of news, data, and analytics on markets and payments for ecosystem services such as water quality, carbon sequestration, and biodiversity. Ecosystem Marketplace’s Carbon Program produces a range of qualitative and quantitative analyses of the voluntary and forest carbon markets, as well as a suite of other mechanisms for financing forest conservation. Our products include original news articles, annual marketplace reports, periodic topical reports, news briefs, a resource library and tracking carbon offset projects. Additional activities occasionally include providing specialized market and policy consultative services, leading in-person and remote educational lectures and hosting regional to international events.

Ecosystem Marketplace works to link practitioners and decision-makers with each other and advises companies, governments and other NGOs on carbon/forest carbon market developments, transparency, social and environmental co-benefits and other mechanisms. For more information about Ecosystem Marketplace, a leading source of information and analysis on environmental markets and payments for ecosystem services, visit


Molly Peters-Stanley

MollyStanley_Bio_PicMolly is Director of Ecosystem Marketplace, where she oversees the development of Ecosystem Marketplace’s industry-leading reports on payments for ecosystem services such as water quality, carbon sequestration, and biodiversity and leads donor outreach and fundraising efforts supporting Ecosystem Marketplace’s research projects. Previously, Molly analyzed voluntary and compliance carbon markets as a climate policy officer in South Australia’s Department of Premier and Cabinet, Sustainability and Climate Change Division. Molly received her Master of Science in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College, School of Public Policy and Management. She pursued this degree as a Public Policy and International Affairs fellow.

Gloria Gonzalez

GloriaGonzalezphotoGloria is the Senior Associate in Ecosystem Marketplace’s Carbon Program where she reports and writes stories for the Ecosystem Marketplace and Forest Carbon Portal websites and is the co-author of the State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets and State of the Forest Carbon Markets reports. Prior to joining the Ecosystem Marketplace team, Gloria was the Americas Editor of Environmental Finance and Carbon Finance magazines. Gloria graduated from Syracuse University with a dual degree in magazine journalism and political science.

Russian Protected Areas: The Polistovsky Reserve

August 11, 2014 in About Kinship, Eco-Tourism

By Elena Nikolaeva, 2013 Kinship Fellow

During the Kinship Conservation Fellows program in 2013, I had the opportunity to look at my work in a broader context, to focus on practical aspects of conservation, and to meet fantastic people who are truly passionate about making a difference in the world. The main emphasis of Kinship – market-based approaches – is quite a new topic for Russian protected areas (PA), and I was excited to dive deeper into this mysterious world at the crossroads of marketing and conservation.

The project I brought to Kinship the summer of 2013 aimed to introduce participatory approaches to conservation in Polistovsky Reserve, a raised bog area in Northwest Russia that protects wetlands of global importance. As with many other protected areas in the world, there are competing commitments at stake. The protected area is meant to conserve unique natural ecosystems, but local communities struggle to make a living on the same land (and tend to illegally use resources because they do not have an alternative livelihood). How do we solve this problem?

Restrictive measures alone, that have been used in our country for decades, don’t work here. While attending Kinship Conservation Fellows, I went on an exciting journey to explore different mechanisms that can make a difference – from encouraging development of sustainable cranberry harvesting, to fostering local social entrepreneurship, diversifying livelihoods, and even selling carbon credits. Many ideas were brought to the table during our small-group classroom discussions, consultations with experts, and evening drinks with my peers. In the end, I learned that there isn’t one recipe to solve the problem, and Kinship gave me a wonderful chance to learn from a number of practical case studies all over the world, and, from this cocktail, create something that will be relevant to our situation.

In the end, I learned that there isn’t one recipe to solve the problem, and Kinship gave me a wonderful chance to learn from a number of practical case studies all over the world, and, from this cocktail, create something that will be relevant to our situation.

A pivotal moment for me was when I realized that I need to go beyond ecotourism for a solution. In discussion during the month, I found that ecotourism provides only peripheral benefits to local communities and nature, and can’t be the only solution to the problem faced by the people I work with. This led me to consider different angles and alternative market-based tools in the various projects that I’m working on.

For example, this year I’m involved in a project focused on cultural landscapes and supporting the integrity of the land/people relationship. Russia has a system of “zapovedniks,” or protected areas with the most strict nature preservation rules (IUCN category Ia). This distinction protects huge wilderness areas with unique biodiversity, but even in these landscapes, the interaction of people and nature over time has produced areas of distinct character with significant ecological, biological, cultural, and scenic values. And, in many of the national parks, cultural landscapes are often the central theme. Safeguarding the integrity of these examples of people/nature interaction is vital for protecting and sustaining these areas and the values associated with them.

Many challenges present themselves: How can these biological and cultural assets be transformed into sustainable livelihoods through market-based conservation mechanisms? What are strategies to develop participatory approaches to sustainable tourism planning and management there? How is it possible to catalyze improvements in the legislation and governance of cultural landscapes? These questions are what makes the work really interesting, and they encourage me to explore various topics related to market-based conservation. I am constantly learning from the experience of other Kinship Fellows and experts as I find answers.

2013 Kinship FellowsNow when I look back to July 2013, a lot of wonderful memories come to my mind: our coaching sessions with Beatrice Benne and Ruth Norris, talks with outstanding international experts in conservation, role playing exercises in the classroom, peer-to-peer learning evenings, cultural cooking nights, sunsets in Bellingham, hiking and kayaking on our free days, and much more. This month inspired me for future challenges and gave me a priceless gift: amazing Kinship friends in different countries with similar goals, interests and attitudes toward the challenging work ahead.


Elena N, 2013 Kinship FellowElena Nikolaeva works with Russian nature protected areas to increase their capacity in environmental education, ecotourism and cooperation with local communities.  After graduation from the Geographical Department of Moscow State University, Elena has been working for a conservation NGO  – Center “Zapovedniks” – which conducts trainings for protected area managers. In 2009 Elena won a Fulbright scholarship to study at the University of Montana in the USA, where 2 years later she received her M.S. in parks, tourism and recreation management. Now she is involved in a number of conservation projects focused on sustainable tourism development in national parks and reserves of Russia. Elena is a World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) regional Vice-chair for Russia and CIS and an Executive Committee member of WCPA Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group. She is a 2013 Kinship Conservation Fellow.

Grounding Adaptive Leadership into Systems Thinking

June 24, 2014 in Leadership and Business Skills

By: Beatrice Benne (Kinship Faculty member)

As I am about to teach the Adaptive Leadership course with the Kinship Conservation Fellows 2014 cohort, I want to reflect on the importance of grounding adaptive leadership into systems thinking.  Here are three main reasons.

Perhaps the most obvious reason is that today’s conservation projects deal with complex adaptive social and ecological challenges that must be addressed holistically if one is to re-establish the harmony that has been broken between communities and their natural environments.  Adaptive leaders must be able to embrace and make sense of the whole complexity of their projects.  A systems thinking approach can help them understand the dynamic relationships between elements of their projects and how patterns form.  In contrast, reductionist methods that focus on analyzing parts of a system independently of one another can only address symptoms but not root causes.

Consider the case of the rehabilitation of a degraded watershed in China’s Loess Plateau: for years, various ministries and departments of the Chinese government worked independently of one another to address two related issues of the highly degraded Loess plateau: soil erosion, and poverty of millions of people struggling to feed their families.  The uncoordinated interventions, however, often worked at cross-purposes.  On the one hand, the livestock distributed to farmers ate the seedling trees provided by reforestation programs, further aggravating erosion and forcing farmers to plant crops on higher slopes.  On the other hand, the tree varieties that were planted were chosen for their capacity to stabilize the soil but not bear fruit, and thus did not generate a source of farmers’ income.  It was not until the problem was reframed through an understanding of the dynamic of the whole system, and the connection was established between the need to first improve farmer livelihoods and then address the ecological degradation, that the whole socio-ecological problem could effectively be addressed and Loess plateau regenerated in only six years.

A second reason for adaptive leaders to become systems thinkers relates to the importance of seeing patterns.  The pattern of behavior of a complex system is the emergent outcome of the dynamic interactions between the elements in that system.  While dynamic interactions that operate over time are often hard to understand, patterns, in contrast, are easily observable.   Uncovering a pattern can provide many clues of what is going on in a complex system and might launch a leader on a fruitful inquiry path.  For the team of experts who were tasked to find a solution to rehabilitate the Loess Plateau, the moment of insight came when asking a village chief why in his particular village, agriculture was flourishing (an uncommon pattern in the area).  The chief replied: “it is green down there because of the walnut trees up here.”  The village had chosen to plant walnut trees and had banned grazing.  The team realized that if things could grow in that area, nature could perhaps re-grow on the Loess plateau, assuming people could give it a chance by changing their behavior and value system—which brings us to our third reason.

A critical skill for adaptive leaders is the ability to uncover and check stakeholders’ assumptions, values, and belief systems.  In her well-known article “Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System,” systems thinker Donella Meadows explains that the most effective leverage point in a system is our mindsets or paradigms, out of which the structures of our systems are designed.  I often use the Sufi tale of “The Blind Men and the Elephant” to show that, faced with a complex socio-ecological challenge, each stakeholder has a narrow and often imperfect understanding of the issues at hand due to deeply held beliefs.  To uncover what the ‘elephant’ really looks like (i.e., the adaptive challenge), an adaptive leader needs to help stakeholders work with one another, using a process of simultaneous inquiry and deep listening to challenge each other’s assumptions and mental models, until the beast shows its ‘true’ face.  When this happens, it’s like the blinders have been removed and people are able to see a situation with “new” eyes—a transformative change.

Benne, BeatriceBeatrice Benne, Ph.D., is the Founder and Principal of Soma Integral Consulting, which facilitates the resolution of adaptive challenges within the context of socio-ecological environments.  Beatrice brings to her clients a broad range of skills and expertise including a whole systems approach to organizational management, strategy, and change; transformative leadership capacity development; and creative approaches to addressing complex situations.  Beatrice also delivers regenerative design and development services to urban communities that want to become more sustainable.

Over the past 15+ years working in diverse organizational settings — from large corporations to startups — Beatrice has gained experience in facilitating change, leading process improvement projects, and creatively combining ideas from different fields for the design of strategic business solutions.  With her unique ability to combine rational analysis and perceptive intuition, Beatrice is able to successfully navigate the intricacy of highly complex organizational environments, while maintaining a sharp focus on the expected outcomes and performance of the projects and initiatives she leads.

Beatrice holds a M.Sc. and Ph.D. from the Department of Architecture at the University of Berkeley, California, USA, and a Diploma of Architect from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. She is a Kinship Conservation Fellows faculty member.

Resolving the Three Paradoxes of Water Conservation

May 15, 2014 in Ecosystems & Biodiversity

Water efficiency credits can become a conservation currency with a simple, self-interested, formula for success: Earn + Own + Trade = Restore.

By James G. Workman (Kinship Faculty and 2005 Kinship Fellow)

This is the final article in a four-part series for The Kinship Lens about the three paradoxes that obstruct water conservation: value (part 1), efficiency ([part 2), and monopoly (part 3)

In April 2001, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney famously trashed the idea of doing more with less: “Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue,” he said, “but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy.”

It pains my conscience to admit it, but more than a decade later it seems he’s right. To save water and energy and build deep-seated resilience from the grassroots level up, cities need to start tapping into a far deeper human instinct: avarice.

Yes, yes. I know that sounds rather crass, even for me, but hear me out.

We can agree that climate mitigation demands clean energy; likewise climate adaptation demands efficient water use. Building on that, we all know that water and energy conservation remains by far the fairest, fastest, cheapest and cleanest route to global security. It restores a resilient society, a stable climate, an autonomous foreign policy and a robust economy while avoiding political land mines of regulations, carbon taxes or cap-and-trade treaties.

The only drawback to conservation is that it requires sacrifice from the richest and most powerful citizens, businesses, and political interest groups. Arguing for more virtue from these elites simply won’t do the trick, as Aldo Leopold warned in 1948 and as we have seen for the past few decades (or for that matter, millennia).

The good news is that today, technology promises to deliver the same result based on a radical form of conservation that leverages their (and, yes, our own) inner greed.

Why? Because in any democracy, urban conservation must reach beyond Prius-hybdrid-carpooling-farmers’-market-hemp-bag-toting-vegan-cardigan-sweater-wearing pillars of society.

It needs at least 51 percent. That includes flawed people (including yours truly) who blast air-conditioning and take long hot showers.

This not-so-moral majority consumes more water and energy than it needs to. It feels vaguely guilty. Still, it could take comfort in a dirty little secret long known by insiders and now more widely recognized by the public: virtue-driven conservation is economically unsustainable.

Wait. As humans save resources, we lower bills, reduce effect and avoid sanctions, right? Not necessarily –thanks to the absolute natural monopoly that is our local water and energy utility.

But as we have seen in the case of urban water, it turns out utilities’ conservation directors showcase conservation programs touting conservation rebates, but quietly pray like hell that no one will conserve.

Instead, like any enterprise, a utility’s operating income depends on mass consumption. The more combined water and energy people waste, the more money utilities have to work with.

So people cut consumption by half, monopoly utilities must unilaterally double rates per gallon or kilowatt-hour to balance operating costs. After a dip, monthly utility bills rise back, higher than ever.

Happily, new information technologies may lead us out of this destructive and dangerous spiral of perverse incentives. The Internet can unlock authentic, sustainable, comprehensive conservation policies that eluded Cheney. How? By borrowing from the Xaro system of the Bushmen; from successful “catch shares” programs in recovering fisheries; and from a national idea used back in the 1990s to cut acid rain causing sulfur dioxide emissions that were killing lakes and forests: tradable credits.

The Internet can unlock authentic, sustainable, comprehensive conservation policies that eluded Cheney.

Here’s how some say it could work to encourage real, meaningful conservation:

  1. First, encourage monopoly utilities to convert messy physical water or energy into cleanly defined virtual credits.
  1. Next allocate equal incentives for online conservation of metered assets – direct or proportional rewards earned for keeping below their historic thresholds —to every residential, commercial and industrial account.
  1. Then let us trade whatever we don’t consume to those who want more.

These online platforms could unlock virtual urban water markets within natural monopolies, working to reward voluntary frugality, efficiency and innovation.

The trick is not trying to improve on human nature, or make everyone extra virtuous, but to leverage our innate sin. If one person consumed less, she could sell unused shares to another, to businesses or to the utility for a cash profit.

Under this defined rule of transparent governance, greed makes green. Pride in higher wealth and status would compel me to use even less just to keep up –a benevolent consequence of envy.

This approach unlocks a truly durable and sustainable path, and does so by going beyond virtue.

Indeed, to unlock a robust water conservation policy, water districts need only tap our inner vice.

Read the first three parts of this series for The Kinship Lens: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

JamieWorkman_editedbyJenWorkman is a leader in the design and execution of natural resource conservation markets for water, fisheries, forest and energy. He is author of Heart of Dryness: How the Last Bushmen Can Help Us Endure the Coming Age of Permanent Drought, which won the prestigious Rachel Carson Award for best book of the year from the Society of Environmental Journalists, and co-author with Amanda Leland of the forthcoming The Quiet Sea Change: How America’s Hunter Gatherers Are Transforming the Rules of the Wild. He has been a visiting professor at Whitman Colleague and Wesleyan University’s College of the Environment, and co-founded AquaJust, an online utility-based platform that unlocks equitable water markets for cities using the system that has sustained the Kalahari’s indigenous people for 30,000 years. He was a 2005 Kinship Conservation Fellow and current Kinship Faculty member.

Kinship Announces 2014 Cohort

April 29, 2014 in About Kinship





Kinship Conservation Fellows Announces 18 Conservation Leaders Chosen for 2014 Cohort

Conservation leaders based in 10 countries will gather in Bellingham, Washington, USA for a month-long fellowship exploring market-based approaches to environmental issues.

Kinship Conservation Fellows today announced the selection of their twelfth cohort of Fellows. The 18 Fellows will travel from 10 countries including Belgium, Canada, China, Ecuador, Kenya, Madagascar, Mexico, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States to attend the month-long program in Bellingham, Washington.

Kinship Conservation Fellows are mid-career practitioners with an interest in market-based conservation principles and a demonstrated commitment to leadership. From June 29 to July 30, the 2014 cohort of Fellows will take part in an exceptional learning community that prepares them to successfully implement innovative strategies in the field.

“I am honored to announce our impressive group of 2014 Kinship Fellows,” said Nigel Asquith, Director of Kinship Conservation Fellows. “This cohort is tackling conservation issues around the world, from watershed conservation in China to the establishment of collaborative forest management systems in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Kinship faculty and I look forward to helping them advance their goals in using market-based tools for conservation and hone their leadership skills during the upcoming program.”

Highlights of Kinship Conservation Fellows include:

  • Month-long in-residence program
  • Core instruction in the application of market-based tools
  • Training in leadership, economic, finance and business management practices
  • Hands-on application of learning via individual and group projects
  • Faculty with international expertise
  • Inclusion in a global Fellows community
  • $6,000 stipend with lodging provided

A list of this year’s 18 Fellows is below. Click here for photos and to view a brief description of each Fellows’ project.

Paola Bauche, Independent Consultant – Guadalajara, Mexico
Jane Boles, Offsetters Climate Solutions Inc – Vancouver, Canada
Jennifer Chapman, Blue Ventures – London, England
Wain Collen, PlanJunto – Quito, Ecuador
Tanguy De Bock, Riviéres de Wallonie – Hyon, Belgium
Mwangi Githiru, Wildlife Works – Voi, Kenya
Andrew Goldberg, Dogwood Alliance – Asheville, NC, USA
Andrew Harvey, MantaWatch – London, England
Matthew King, Living GREEN Foundation – Boulder, CO, USA
Hao Li, Beijing Forestry Society – Beijing, China
Greg Martindale, Ezemvelo Kwazulu-Natal Wildlife – Nottingham Road, South Africa
Kelli McCune, Sustainable Conservation – San Francisco, CA, USA
Faith Milkah Muniale, ERMIS Africa – Nakuru, Kenya
Tsering Norbu, The Pendeba Society of the Tibet Autonomous Region – Lhasa, China
Voahirana Claudia Randriamamonjy, Madagasikara Voakajy – Antananarivo, Madagascar
Cornelia Rindt, Offsetters - Vancouver, BC, Canada
Cecilia Simon, Climate Action Reserve – Valle de Bravo, Mexico
Jacquelyn Wallace, Okanogan Land Trust – Pateros, WA, USA


Established in 2001, Kinship’s mission is to develop a community of leaders dedicated to collaborative approaches to environmental issues with an emphasis on market-based principles. For more information about Kinship Conservation Fellows, please contact Catherine Rabenstine at (312) 803-6200,, or visit For more about market-based approaches to conservation, read our blog:

Kinship Conservation Fellows: Connection. Collaboration. Impact. from Kinship Conservation Fellows on Vimeo.

The Third Paradox of Water: Monopoly

April 28, 2014 in Ecosystems & Biodiversity, Mechanisms for Market-based Conservation

Water conservation erodes a private or public utility’s revenues. To remain solvent, or grow, providers are forced to encourage and reward waste.

By James G. Workman (Faculty Member and 2005 Kinship Fellow)

This is the third in a four-part series for The Kinship Lens about the three paradoxes that obstruct water conservation: value (part 1), efficiency ([part 2), and monopoly (part 3). The fourth and concluding article in the series will be available in early May.

Let me introduce you to my friend – an extraordinarily conflicted professional – who manages conservation programs at your local urban water district.

She’s hardly alone in her anxiety, or unique in facing the predicament that caused it. Using her name would jeopardize her career. But based on 53,000 American water utilities, I estimate at least 100,000 people like her suffer in the U.S. alone. Her symptoms remain mild – a nervous twitch, sweaty palms, and mild headaches – but worsen as water scarcity puts competing tensions on her utility’s aging system.

The roots of her trauma are simple. Nearly a decade ago she was hired, given a small staff, budget and discretionary funds to promote ambitious conservation programs and rebates throughout the service area of her water utility. It was the ideal job to match her ideals, a rare opportunity that pays you to do what you love. But there was, alas, a deep and hidden problem, which gave rise to mental health complications.

Perverse priorities

It soon became clear that, the more she succeeded at a noble cause while saving nature, the more she would wreak havoc on her institution’s foundation, destroy the revenue base of operations, and force herself and her team out on the streets and into the welfare lines.

Conversely, if she utterly failed at her job, and proved hopelessly incompetent at the task defined, everyone wins and loves her. She would boost sales, generate high returns on almost no investment, and likely land herself a series of promotions, salary hikes, bigger team, and longer vacations until she ran the show.

The only problem with that second route was that she would have to sacrifice her just original soul, sense of pride, and drive endangered species to extinction.

What’s forcing this professional anxiety? It’s not a matter of ‘public’ versus ‘private’ water utilities. That’s a red herring. Whether investors or voters own a water district, it remains a natural monopoly. That monopoly needs more money each year just to operate – to pay its staff, invest in repairs, maintain the system, cover health care and pensions etc. Increased funds depend on increased revenues, higher sales, and thus escalating water use by all end users – residential, commercial, industrial or municipal.

In theory, a monopoly should be able to increase revenues by selling ever-less water at ever-higher rates. In reality, that’s political suicide. Private and public utilities are regulated by officials elected to act on behalf of voters; voters rarely demand the right to pay more for less of something they depend on in every aspect of their lives, especially something many believe they should get for free.

Walking the tightrope

Hence the fine monopolistic line my strained friend must walk, and the tightrope beneath her, is beginning to fray. The current recession makes families and firms consume less water. That’s wonderful for nature, but horrible for her utility’s bottom line. She is, professionally, both pleased and tormented. Her job is to lock in more efficiencies but her boss visits daily with thinly veiled threats if she does. Unless she backs off on conservation, her position, team, and budget will be at risk of being eliminated first as part of austerity. If she saves more water, she slits her own throat. Then her skills become worthless in the marketplace; who hires someone good at eroding the bottom line?

This is the Third Paradox of Water: conserving water destroys revenues; a thriving monopoly must reward waste.

Frugal utilities have less room to negotiate. Those who encourage water saving today must punish it tomorrow with higher rates. These perversions remain true at the household level, the building level, the neighborhood, the municipal district and the river. Perversely, the existence of a water monopoly means that all people involved in it – from the person flushing the toilet to the State Water Board setting targets for water allocations – are left with no choice, no competition, and no incentives to conserve.

Indeed, the Third Paradox ensures that the most frugal, responsive, and equitable users and managers in the vertically integrated water monopoly can only succeed through subterfuge or martyrdom. As this paradox undercuts performance and customer relations it is known throughout the water industry as ‘the death spiral.’ After all, to paraphrase the U.S. soldier hoping to justify his extreme decision against a peaceful village in the Vietnam War, the paradox means we must destroy the monopoly’s water in order to save the utility.

The converse is that through the principles of H2Ownership, we can find a way to unlock the monopoly in order to save both water and the utility.

To that end, stay tuned for the fourth and concluding blog in this series, Resolving the Three Paradoxes of Water. Read part 1 here and part 2 here.

JamieWorkman_editedbyJenWorkman is a leader in the design and execution of natural resource conservation markets for water, fisheries, forest and energy. He is author of Heart of Dryness: How the Last Bushmen Can Help Us Endure the Coming Age of Permanent Drought, which won the prestigious Rachel Carson Award for best book of the year from the Society of Environmental Journalists, and co-author with Amanda Leland of the forthcoming The Quiet Sea Change: How America’s Hunter Gatherers Are Transforming the Rules of the Wild. He has been a visiting professor at Whitman Colleague and Wesleyan University’s College of the Environment, and co-founded AquaJust, an online utility-based platform that unlocks equitable water markets for cities using the system that has sustained the Kalahari’s indigenous people for 30,000 years.