In the past decade, a number of megadonors have adopted ocean conservation as one of their flagship causes. Often, these individuals approach the issue with radically different ideas and philosophies. However, this situation is not necessarily a bad one, especially if different donors join forces to benefit from each other’s particular points of view.
This sort of collaboration was recently announced by Michael Bloomberg and Ray Dalio, two of the most active donors in the United States. Together, they have pledged $185 million over the course of four years to benefit the oceans. Notably, these two donors have long been involved with ocean conservation, but in very different ways.
The new partnership is called the Bloomberg-OceanX initiative. It will coordinate actions between the Vibrant Oceans Initiative (which was launched by Bloomberg Philanthropies) and OceanX (a project created by Ray Dalio and his son Mark).
Vibrant Oceans focuses largely on data-driven solutions with a particular emphasis on promoting change that will improve the lives of humans. On the other hand, OceanX embraces high-tech exploration and seeks to raise awareness of issues through various media projects.
These two organizations represent very different goals. However, they stand to benefit one another going forward. Here’s what you need to know:
Exciting Potential for Collaboration Between Bloomberg and Dalio
According to the statement announcing Bloomberg-OceanX, the two separate entities will coordinate their strategies for maximum impact. The organizations will each continue to invest in projects independently of one another while also undertaking joint initiatives.
The first of these joint pursuits will involve an expedition to the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. This location was first officially designated in 2016 by the Obama administration. Industry experts are unsure what the collaboration will consist of, but hopes remain high that the two organizations work together will make a substantial impact.
From the perspective of Bloomberg, teaming with OceanX will help publicize the important work being done by ocean conservationists and generate more excitement among the general public. Bloomberg understands that much of philanthropy’s ongoing impact depends on capturing the attention of American citizens.
Recently, Bloomberg Philanthropies partnered with Radical Media to produce documentaries. Topics include the impact of climate change and the decline of the coal industry, two issues intimately linked to ocean health. What the Dalios get out of the partnership is less obvious. Perhaps linking to Bloomberg will provide practical outlets for the exploration conducted by OceanX.
The Contribution of the Dalio Family to Ocean Conservation
In the past five years, giving from the Dalio family has ramped up considerably, including a recent commitment from Ray’s wife Barbara Dalio to improve public schools. At the same time, the family has released relatively little information about its projects. Similarly, the Dalio Philanthropies website provides little information.
In terms of ocean conservation, one recipient of grants from the Dalio family is the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. However, the bulk of investment in this area rests in OceanX, which was cofounded with a director and documentary producer. Already, OceanX has partnered with BBC Studios and the National Geographic Society. It also purchased a high-tech research vessel named the Alucia. Next year, OceanX will deploy Alucia2.
The Dalio family hopes to create a personal connection to the ocean in communities across the world through its projects. For example, the organization helped capture the first footage ever taken of a Giant Squid off the coast of Japan. Other projects have involved exploring the depths of the Antarctic Ocean deeper than any humans have gone and filming the diversity of the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem.
Vibrant Oceans and the Impact of Bloomberg Philanthropies
The OceanX project’s Jacques Cousteau-like focus on exploration stands in marked contrast to Vibrant Oceans. The latter organization looks at ocean conservation as a means of improving the lives of more than 3 billion people whose lives depends on the health of the waters.
Since 2011, Bloomberg has donated nearly $70 million to ocean protection. Vibrant Oceans began operations in 2014 and has since partnered with the Wildlife Conservation Society, Oceans 5, Rare, and Oceana. Through these partnerships, and a promise of $86 billion, the organization has used data to help minimize pollution, protect coral reefs, and put a stop to illegal fishing.
Using data has helped Vibrant Oceans to pinpoint the key coral geographies and fishing areas to focus on in the coming years. This work will hopefully reverse the trend of declining fish populations.
In addition, big data has helped optimize the management of fisheries and reduce ocean pollution coming from important ocean-focused nations such as Chile, Australia, the Philippines, Indonesia, and the United States. Much of the work already accomplished by the organization has depended on partnerships between the organizations listed above, government leaders, and private-sector players.
The potential for collaboration in this partnership is very exciting. In the long run, however, it will depend on how the two organizations play off one another’s strengths. Both Dalio and Bloomberg have added their signatures to the Giving Pledge, and they are collectively worth about $70 billion. This means we may see a lot more money invested in ocean conservation in the coming years.