In the quest for a positive impact on the world, Currie Communications and many of our clients voluntarily hold ourselves to a high standard of governance, transparency, environmental and social impact. We prove this as a certified B Corporation.
A large aspect of B Corp certification is using the power of business to do good. Currie allocates business hours to doing pro bono work for society and the environment. Our target is 5%f our chargeable hours per year. So far this year, we are sitting nicely at 6%. I am proud of the work that Currie does to help communities who otherwise might not have the resources or knowledge capital to overcome local issues.
With this in mind, I sat down with our Director, Service Support, Gabrielle Sheehan, to discuss her work with the World Bank funded project, Capturing Coral Reef and Related Ecosystem Services (CCRES). The project is designed to improve the long term sustainability of coastal ecosystems (coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass) through development of a suite of tools and knowledge products, which support better planning and stronger governance.
What inspired Currie to work with CCRES?
One of our clients brought us into the project’s precursor – the Coral Reef Targeted Research (CRTR) project – following work we did with her at Land and Water Australia. CCRES built on this earlier project, so we were eager to be involved from the get-go! Currie is the Communications and Engagement partner for CCRES, so we are responsible for communications, packaging the tools and promoting behaviour change.
CCRES involves working with communities on the ground in Indonesia and the Philippines. What benefits do the communities involved see?
The project has four aspects: systems analysis, marine planning, business development and behavior change/coastal governance.
Systems analysis helps communities to understand the pressures their coastal ecosystems are under, and what interventions might be most effective to address them. For example, mangroves get cut down to provide land for development, building materials and fuel. This means a) baby fish have nowhere to grow and b) the shoreline becomes more vulnerable to erosion and damage from high tides and storm surges. Systems analysis is about understanding issues like these and modelling the outcomes from decisions that seek to address them.
The marine planning work is about arming policy makers and planners with technical tools for better conservation of coastal ecosystems, so it is a long-term process. The tools can help inform decisions on things like the best place to put a Marine Protected Area (MPA), and how big it needs to be. Effective MPAs protect reefs and improve the quality of the fisheries – hence local communities have improved food security. It’s a longstanding benefit.
We’ve already seen benefits in the business development work. This is primarily about encouraging entrepreneurs to develop or enhance businesses that work in harmony with ecosystems. For example, an existing business could be one that makes flowers out of plastic; we’d encourage businesses to support an idea like that. Some fantastic business ideas emerged from the EcoBiz Challenge. The winners have received funding to start their businesses at our pilot sites of El Nido in the Philippines and Selayar in Indonesia.
The fourth aspect centres on behaviour change. Whether this means better waste management or less destructive fishing practices – it’s about what sort of behaviours can be discouraged or encouraged for better environmental and community outcomes. Currie’s leadership of this part of the project highlights the link between the value of services provided by coral reef ecosystems and the wellbeing of coastal communities.
What value does working on the CCRES project bring to Currie?
It’s very rewarding work. We’re improving the wellbeing of coastal communities in Indonesia and the Philippines in a tangible way, and CCRES has the potential to help many more if the tools are used throughout the East Asia-Pacific and beyond. The World Bank funding finishes this year, but the project was designed to leave behind legacy tools, so they will exist even after the researchers have moved onto something else. The project provides us with the opportunity to work with an amazing multi-disciplinary team and build international networks.
How does the project contribute to Currie’s sustainability ethos?
It’s triple bottom line stuff. It’s about helping the economy, the environment and communities. I think we’re hugely lucky to be able to work on such an interesting project that hopefully is going to have a long-term impact for coastal communities and ecosystems.
Will Currie continue to work towards a sustainable future?
Yes, we’ll continue to do pro bono work under our B Corp obligations. That might mean looking for another project, because CCRES is our biggest pro bono project and we’d love to replace it with something of equal magnitude when it closes. We’re also working with the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC), the Banksia Foundation and occasionally we do some pro bono work for the B Corp community. It would be wonderful if Currie was involved in the next iteration of the CCRES project. Either way, we’ll continue as a B Corp, and continue to work ‘for purpose’ – that’s our strategic direction and it supports our values.
As an emerging professional, I am excited to see so many industry leaders embracing the need for change and working with organisations like B Lab Australia to get there. Discover how to become a B Corp here. You can also support the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre or resister to become a sponsor of the Banksia Foundation awards.