Philippe Jochaud: “Balancing life and livelihoods might be the ultimate challenge of humanity”

Philippe Jochaud is a co-founding partner at GlobalCAD, specialized in Partnerships for development. As a consultant, he has worked for more than 15 years in private sector engagement, green and blue growth, climate change adaptation, inclusive business and evaluation, among other topics.

Philippe has provided strategic and technical advice, training and capacity building to multiple international organizations like UN agencies, funds, private sector organizations and NGOs. He has also authored several publications related to partnerships and green growth, among others.

The GlobalCAD Communication team talked to him on the occasion of World Oceans Day, which highlights this year the theme of The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods.

Oceans are considered the lungs of our planet and a major source of food and medicine as well as a critical part of the biosphere. According to UN Global Compact, marine fisheries provide 57 million jobs globally as well as the primary source of protein to over 50% of the population in the least developed countries. Oceans’ protection, however, faces enormous challenges, with climate change, marine pollution, tourism, ecosystems degradation and overfishing.

Philippe stresses that our model doesn’t work in the long term, putting us, as humanity, at risk. For him, finding a balance between life and livelihoods is the ultimate challenge of humanity.

GlobalCAD (GC): The 21st century challenges evidence the need for a global and cross-cutting approach to human development. How is the cooperation sector following such approaches?

Philippe Jochaud (PJ): The cooperation sector is a very wide term reflecting many different realities. The Millenium Development Goals, and then Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), have created a global alignment that has evolved over the last 20 years.

While the Millenium Development Goals focused mainly on the “South” and poor countries, reflecting the traditional way of looking of cooperation (in which the North helps the South), the SDGs and the Agenda 2030 bring about an interesting change of focus: “We are all in the same boat, the North and the South”.

The traditional battlefields remain (poverty, education, hygiene and sanitation) but there are several new issues that are urgent to tackle, as the linear economy and what is probably our main challenge as a species: Climate Change. 

The project of Coastal Hazard Wheel in West Africa with CTCN, coordinated by Philippe, supported improved decision-making processes through standardized coastal language in West Africa

GC: What led you to work on human development?

PJ: A number of things. My early professional years were very varied. I worked in several sectors before finding my field. I wanted my work to be meaningful, be it working on environmental topics (always a concern since my childhood) or more human aspects.

I very much believe in the need to support the conception and mainstreaming of relevant public policies. This is probably the main mission of UN agencies and funds we work with so much: set international standards and norms based on solid knowledge that can support countries advancing their work in the key topics (poverty, education, climate change, etc.).

Consequently, as consultants, a big part of our work revolves around this: knowledge generation, capacity building or technical support in these key areas.

In times where private sector, short term and rapidity become increasingly prevalent it is important to remember how important it is to find a balance with a solid public sector that defend the general interest in the long run with relevant policies and regulations and efficient institutions…

Of course, at a more personal level, a key attracting aspect of the work was to get to travel and work with people in many different countries, cultures and contexts. It has been very rewarding and allowed broadening my vision of things. This is a huge privilege.

GC: What have you learned from all these years working on the sector?

PJ: Wow! Tough one!

What comes to my mind is what a social entrepreneur from Senegal told us once: I want to work with people that are hungry; not hungry of physical hunger, but spiritual hunger: people that want to do things, that are eager to produce change.

This idea is very dear to me: in our sector, we cannot force people to desire change. If there is no real need, no intention it is pointless to force things. What we do is looking for motivated partners and proposing joint solutions, approaches, tools that we believe may add value in the change-making process.

All those years working in cross-sector partnerships also confirmed my conviction of the need to create linkages between sectors and people for development. Nobody can work in a silo. It is important to have a broad vision. That is what we try to foster through our work on partnerships for development.  

Economic pressure is one of the drivers of overfishing. Photo by sasan rashtipour on Unsplash

GC: Tell us a little more about your relation to the oceans’ protection?

PJ: It is a very important topic I feel very close to as I grew up by the ocean and happen to be passionate about sailing. This led me to travel and get to know better oceans.

Oceans are the source of life on Earth and protecting them is protecting ourselves. We used to think they were so big that we could not significantly impact them… well, we have been proven wrong there! Our capacity to pollute and destroy biodiversity is now well demonstrated and really appalling. In some way, the state of the oceans is a good indicator/ reflection of how sustainable is our way of living: not so much at this stage!

Take the example of the Mediterranean Sea: 78% of fish stocks are now overexploited, 70% of wetlands have been destroyed since the 70s, and it goes on and on: the Mediterranean region is using about three times more natural resources than its ecosystems can provide.

There is a real need for change. That is what we are working on for example with the Union for the Mediterranean to support the creation of a joint agenda (2030GreenerMed agenda) in the Mediterranean. This agenda is about increasing coordination for an improved environment in the Mediterranean. Not an easy task but hopefully it can bring some change.

Another issue linked to oceans is coastal erosion in the context of climate change. Coastal management is a complex process very much needed to adapt to climate change. This is a topic I have been working on in the last years with CTCN in West Africa or with the World Bank with the West Africa Coastal Area (WACA) programme. The combination of coastal urbanization and climate change can be dreadful sometimes, it already affects millions of people and the number will be growing over the years.

There is a need for adequate strategies and policies to address this, but those are complex multistakeholder processes that need the collaboration of many!

Coastal urbanization and climate change affects millions of people in African coasts. Maranatha Beach Camp, Ada Foah, Ghana. Photo by Etornam Ahiator on Unsplash

GC: The thematic of this year’s World Oceans Day is “life and livelihoods”. What is the balance point between these two axes: life and livelihoods?

PJ: Finding this balance might be the ultimate challenge of humanity.  We have a model that has allowed much human progresses, yet often at the cost of destroying life. What we see is that it doesn’t work in the long run: the linear models based on massive consumption and production of waste led us to a wall.

Humanity starts understanding (sometimes the hard way) that fundamental aspects need to be changed. The first one is that we have finite resources on Earth!

Resources are finite and a circular economy is the only way in the long run. The 50 years to come will be very exciting, as we will accelerate the transition to more sustainable paths. Moderation in the consumption, circular innovation and increasing valorization of waste: all this is needed in order to find a balance where our livelihoods do not destroy life… and without life needless to say that there is no livelihood!

Marine Protected Areas and more control of the fishing industry would restore biodiversity and allow oceans rebirth. Photo by sasan rashtipour on Unsplash

GC: What is a simple action that every person can do to protect the oceans?

All that is being done can be done better and in a more sustainable way, be it tourism, fishing, maritime transport, etc. 

Every person has power through her/his consumption patterns. Choosing a touristic destination based on sustainability criteria, consuming local fish from artisanal source (versus industrial fishing from remote locations), avoiding single-use plastics, etc. there are many ways to engage in more mindful consumption, or more efficient, consuming less. Moderation and sobriety are getting an increased interest lately.

On the other hand supporting the adoption of laws and regulations that protect the oceans from pollution, while acting at the local level whenever you can.

GC: What is your major wish for the oceans in the coming years?

Many Marine Protected Areas and strong enforcement. It has been demonstrated that oceans have an amazing capacity to recover if you leave them alone. Only 8,3% of the seas are Marine Protected Areas and they are mostly located in European Union waters. Only 0,1% are strong protection zones. Mainstreaming  Marine Protected Areas and more control of the fishing industry would restore biodiversity and allow oceans rebirth.

Geisel García Graña
Geisel García Graña
Geisel is Communication & Ecosystem Manager for GlobalCAD and a consultant in communication and sustainable cities. She has a PhD. in Communication Sciences by the Autonomous University of Barcelona. @geiselgg