A passionate conservationist and social entrepreneur, Al has spent the past decade researching and tackling marine environmental crises in tropical developing countries.
Former chairman of Oxford University Exploration Society, his life-long obsession with corals led him to establish Blue Ventures, an international marine conservation organisation whose projects have received the prestigious United Nations Equator Prize and Seed Award, in recognition of their work in biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation.
Al is a member of the World Commission on Protected Areas, recipient of the 2010 World Conservation Union’s Young Conservationist Award and winner of the 2009 Condé Nast Environment Award. Currently based in Madagascar, his work developing sustainable business approaches for financing conservation has twice been commended by UK former Prime Minister Gordon Brown in the annual ‘Enterprising Young Brits’ awards.
In this video, the Skoll Foundation visits Alasdair Harris of Blue Ventures in Madagascar, where he is building sustainable coastal communities. This video debuted on the big screen at the 2015 Skoll Awards Ceremony, April 16, 2015, before Alasdair went on stage to receive his award from Skoll Foundation Founder and Chairman Jeff Skoll and President and CEO Sally Osberg.
Ten years ago, in a coastal village in Madagascar, Alasdair tested an elegantly simple model that put Blue Ventures on the map. He encouraged residents to take charge of their local fishery by cordoning off a small section of their octopus-fishing area for a designated period of time. When the area was re-opened, the community saw huge increases in their catch and incomes. In this video, you'll see one woman's reaction and how this drastically changed her family's life.
Building on this success, local communities created Madagascar’s first local committee to manage and conserve marine resources. Since that auspicious start, Blue Ventures has helped replicate this model along thousands of miles of coastline along the Indian Ocean. Beyond managing fisheries, Blue Ventures has integrated family planning and health services into its livelihoods and conservation work, showing the world that protecting the ocean can and should go hand-in-hand with improving lives.