What Packard’s New Strategy in the West Pacific Means For You

The Packard Foundation’s Western Pacific sub-program has been around since 1999, but as of 2014 the foundation will be looking for new qualities in its grant making. Unhappy with the state of affairs in the Western Pacific Ocean, the Packard Foundation (see IP’s profile) has issued a new strategy plan that may affect the way grantees write up future proposals. According to Packard, it is no longer enough merely to create marine reserves in the Western Pacific— the new strategy focuses on how to combine marine reserves and fisheries management while highlighting several new principles.

The Western Pacific Subprogram Strategic Plan (2014-2020) will continue to prioritize the waters surrounding Indonesia, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and Micronesia. Packard also expects to spend at minimum $5-6 million per year on the subprogram through 2020. So grantees working in the Western Pacific can take heart.  Grantees looking for Packard funding, however, will want to focus on the two main challenges the foundation has identified in its Strategic Plan. First, Packard is concerned that the marine reserves that have been created in the past have not transitioned to self-sustaining, local co-management. Rather, the reserves continue to be maintained by outside, international financing. Second, Packard notes that “While threats to the marine environment are persistent and diverse (e.g., ocean acidification, sea temperature rise, coastal pollution, coastal development, extractive industries), none is arguably more broadly pressing and clear, especially in the near term, than overfishing.”

Packard maintains that the establishment and maintenance of marine reserves (what had been its traditional focus) must go hand-in-hand with fisheries management. The new strategy advocates efforts in three main areas. First, Packard is looking for sound governance systems for nearshore fisheries— the focus here is better data, better management plans, and pilot tests of new models of management and governance. Second, Packard wants local partners to take on the implementation and management of marine reserves. This will likely involve developing institutional capacity, tools, and planning processes. Finally, Packard wants to know more about the capacity of its target countries, such that it will fund policy and capacity analyses looking at policy reform.

Grantees in the Western Pacific should take note of Packard’s new Strategic Plan. Writing the same old grant proposal will likely not work going forward. Grantees should rather focus on fisheries management, building local capacity, and policy reform. Not just any marine reserve plan is going to work anymore.