Building Bridges: How Collaboration Helps us Reach Conservation Goals

Advisory board member, Ana Valerie Mandri, explains the value of building bridges between social and environmental causes with private initiatives and other organizations, to reach conservation goals.


Building Bridges for Shark Conservation

Bridges are essential infrastructures that connect people and places; they serve as crucial links between communities, enabling the exchange of goods, services, and ideas. Similarly, collaboration bridges can connect individuals and initiatives, facilitating communication and problem-solving across different groups and organizations. By creating these bridges, we can build stronger relationships and work together more effectively to tackle complex challenges and achieve common goals.


Shark Conservation Needs Collaboration

In conservation, and specifically in shark conservation, we are facing one of these complex challenges. Every hour, 11,000 sharks are killed worldwide. The health of the oceans is rapidly deteriorating, corals are dying, and the effects of climate change pose a threat to humanity and life on the planet. These challenges are simply too big for one organization alone to solve them. We need to build bridges, create alliances, and work together to create a culture of conservation that can solve our environmental crisis from its origins and stop putting bandages here and there. 

Working with local fishermen, in collaboration for shark conservation

The Power of Bridging Organizations and Communities

Saving Our Sharks Foundation recognizes this, which is why they want to support local fishermen cooperatives that are on the front lines of conservation. By helping these cooperatives save at least 2,000 sharks yearly, the foundation hopes to create a movement that engages 20 million people. And let’s be real, that’s a pretty big task to take on alone. So, how can we build bridges and create alliances to achieve these goals?

As part of my role within the advisory board, I’ve helped co-design a collaboration bridge program that puts together different organizations with different capacities, finding a common goal and building a bridge to reach it.

A collaborative bridge has two sides: the initial design where teams work together to establish a strong foundation of mutual understanding and respect, and the ongoing connection, where people and ideas can freely flow between initiatives, creating opportunities for growth and innovation. This is what is commonly meant by “building bridges” humans collaborate to build that connection and then use the bridge literally and metaphorically as“common ground”

Wyland mural as an example of collaboration for shark conservation

Supporting Local Communities in Favor of Sharks

Saving Our Sharks Foundation’s incredible partnership with the world-renowned muralist Wyland is an example of a bridge we are building to save sharks, support local communities and create a movement for  healthy oceans and people. Wyland painted one of his impressive murals, raising awareness and inspiring action for shark conservation like never before! This mural is one bridge where people from different backgrounds, countries, and with different interests, stop to admire this awe-inspiring work of art and start a conversation about it. Every person that witnesses this mural gets invited to the “shark conversation”.

A different bridge is being built with  the legendary footwear brand, VANS. They’re taking Wyland’s mural design and printing it on their iconic shoes. In this “bridge” example, people get to join the movement while wearing cool kicks, and a portion of the proceeds will go towards supporting the fishermen cooperatives in their fight to save sharks.These are just two examples of how building bridges can bring people together for a cause. By connecting the dots between the world of art, fashion, and conservation, we can create a movement that inspires action and drives change.

collaboration for shark conservation

Everyone is Needed to Save Sharks

Building bridges between social and environmental causes with private initiative is crucial if we want to make a real impact. The Saving Our Sharks Foundation is a shining example of what’s possible when we work together towards a common goal. And who knows, maybe the next great partnership for conservation will be between a baker and a rock climber. Or a partnership with YOU? The possibilities are endless when we open ourselves up to collaboration and creativity.

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to look for your shark-themed VANS, coming soon!

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