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Resilient Small-Scale Fisheries Leadership Accelerator

Join a transformative leadership development program designed for leaders around the world building climate resilient small-scale fisheries.


June 8th, 2022

12 Weeks

In alignment with the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA 2022), Acumen Academy and Environmental Defense Fund are launching a new Resilient Small-Scale Fisheries Leadership Accelerator for fisheries leaders around the globe leading initiatives towards climate-resilient and equitable fisheries.

Why a Resilient Small-Scale Fisheries Leadership Accelerator?

The vitality of millions of people worldwide, especially those who live in coastal communities, depends on sustainably managed fisheries. Yet many fisheries continue to be overfished and poorly managed, undermining social and economic development, posing challenges to local food security, and threatening marine habitats. Without action or change, these conditions will continue to put the livelihoods and well-being of millions of people who rely directly on fish as their food and income at risk.

With a changing climate, impacts to fisheries and the communities that depend on them are becoming more severe. As waters warm, small-scale fishing communities are already observing the effects of climate change on their fisheries and ecosystems. At the same time, fishing communities continue to deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic which have largely shut down supply chains and undermined economies. The widespread impacts from climate change and shock events like COVID-19 further heighten the need and urgency for local leaders to build resilient and healthy fisheries and communities.

Resilience in fisheries and fishing communities relies on capable, innovative, and diverse leaders who can inspire and drive action toward a more sustainable and equitable future.

This program will prepare a cohort of leaders working in and with small-scale fisheries by equipping them with invaluable leadership skills needed for navigating uncertainty and change, a powerful network of like-minded peers to champion sustainable fisheries, and understanding of fisheries systems. The program complements ongoing efforts to strengthen the role of small-scale fishery leaders during the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture, a year dedicated by the United Nations to recognize and empower small-scale fishers, fishfarmers, and fishworkers. 

Over The 12 Week Program, You Will:

  • Join a globally diverse cohort of small-scale fishery leaders building climate-resilient fisheries solutions 
  • Experience Acumen’s flagship leadership training embedded in our multinational Fellowship program
  • Improve your capacity to innovate and drive change within small-scale fisheries by practicing essential systems leadership skills
  • Bring examples from your work into the program to guide your learning — then take new learnings from the program back to your community to guide your work and increase your impact
  • Be challenged to examine your fundamental beliefs and responsibility as part of the fisheries system
  • Develop the muscle of leading your team, department, organization or community through challenging environments with confidence and empathy
  • Learn diagnostic and decision-making methodologies to bridge opposing views and find new opportunities in opposing tensions
  • Refine your purpose through the exploration of critical literature that gets to the core of human values and just societies
In partnership with EDF

Exercise Leadership More Effectively

Learn essential leadership mindsets for your life and career

Accelerate Your Impact

Develop leadership skills to drive change within small-scale fisheries in your community and the world

Gain Valuable Feedback

Tap into Acumen’s 20 years of expertise to solve problems in real-time

Join A Lasting Community

Build meaningful relationships with a cohort of like-minded peers daring to lead

This Program Is For You If:

  • You have more than 5 years of work experience within small-scale fisheries/fishing communities
  • You currently lead or are part of building an organization, initiative,  or fisherfolk group that exists to tackle small-scale fisheries issues
  • You are in a position — or moving into a position — to influence change in your group, organization, department, or community
  • You want to become better at leading through uncertainty and navigating the systems around you
  • You are ready to show up for yourself and for others, and to challenge yourself to learn and think in new ways
  • You have the ability to read and write texts of medium complexity in English and have a basic handling of social platforms (e.g. WhatsApp) so that you can be an active member of the community

TO NOTE: This program will not focus on the more technical aspects of building a successful fishery intervention or social innovation. Rather we focus on the leadership skills that we’ve found to be an essential part of leading change, and will bring together a cohort of leaders to explore how those skills can be applied in small-scale fisheries.

What's Included

  • 12 Group Learning Labs facilitated through Zoom
  • Facilitated learnings, including frameworks for decision-making that show you how to hold values in tension and lead through change
  • Weekly conversations and consultations with peers
  • In-depth guided discussions of curated readings
  • Weekly assignments to apply learnings as you refine your own leadership
[The program] allows participants to build rapport quickly and truly become part of a cohesive group despite the individual differences, backgrounds, and experiences. The content and approach are innovative and go beyond the regular leadership concepts from other trainings, workshops, etc.
Tomas Leadership Accelerator Alumni
The small cohort based approach allowed for meaningful engagement and learning of the leadership concepts
Sanjeev Leadership Accelerator Alumni
This is a strength based program that focuses unapologetically in advancing racial, social and economic justice to create a more just and fair society!
Bernardo Leadership Accelerator Alumni


Module 1

Who’s in This Journey with Me?

  • Examine your identities, values, and choices that have shaped your journey until now
  • Connect with peers and begin to build trust and togetherness for the journey ahead

Module 2

What is the Holistic View of the Challenges We Work On?

  • Gain a high-level understanding of fishery systems and their most pressing challenges
  • Understand more deeply your place in these systems

Module 3

What Are the Human Components of the Fishery Systems We Work in?

  • Understand the key stakeholders in fishery systems, including their motivations and connections
  • Build closer connections within your cohort by understanding their roles in fishery systems

Module 4

How Do We Move Beyond an ‘Either/Or’ in Fishery Systems?

  • Diagnose and identify the values are in tension within fishery systems
  • Learn to engage in difficult conversations and manage values in tension using tools and frameworks

Module 5

What is Leadership Within Our Stakeholder Group?

  • Understand the concept of "getting on the balcony" and how it relates to the exercise of adaptive leadership
  • Identify and discuss your leadership gap with your cohort
  • Expand and apply your understanding of leadership, authority, and intervention

Module 6

What’s the Actual Work? What Can We Learn From Past Failures?

  • Distinguish between technical and adaptive work when leading change
  • Identify and examine your own leadership challenge

Module 7

Are You Mobilizing the Right People Around the ‘Right’ Problem?

  • Understand why people support, resist, benefit, or lose when you lead adaptive change
  • Define stakeholders and factions critical to your adaptive challenge

Module 8

How Do We Put Humanity at the Center of Our Work on Fisheries?

  • Think deeply and ask critical questions about the ideas of humanity and universal dignity

Module 9

What is Our Role in the System We Seek to Change?

  • Examine your role in the system you seek to change

Module 10

Why is Understanding Identity Essential for Leadership Today?

  • Understand the role of identities in having conversations across lines of difference

Module 11

What Are the Values in Tension for Building Equitable Fisheries?

  • Deliberate the systems needed for humans working in and impacted by fisheries to flourish

Module 12

So, Are We Ready to Lead?

  • Renew and recommit to your responsibility in building climate resilient fisheries that serve people and the planet
Conservation Strategy Fund

Key Dates

Applications Close

March 22, 2022


June 8, 2022

Program Ends

August 2022

Time Requirement

You should expect to spend at least 7 hours per week dedicated to this program. The learning experience is fully online and includes weekly individual work, peer discussions, and facilitator-led full cohort synchronous sessions.


How to Qualify

How are participants selected?

We are looking for participants who (1) can participate in a program conducted in English and engage in an online learning environment (2) are eager to reflect on and grow their leadership capabilities (3) demonstrate a strong commitment to and track record on small-scale fisheries issues (4) are in a position to influence their group, organization, initiative or community to lead change. We will review applications on a rolling basis and invite finalists for a 30-minute phone interview.

What level of English do I need?

All sessions, assignments and communications are conducted in English. An intermediate proficiency in English is a requirement to ensure you are able to give and get the most from this experience. That involves being able to communicate verbally, understand presentations and read & write texts of medium complexity in English.

What if I don’t have a stable internet connection where I live?

Since the program is fully virtual, access to reliable internet coverage is fundamental to engage in the weekly online sessions, complete assignments in between the sessions and connect with your peers. If this is a limitation to your full participation, there may be limited funds to cover costs of accessing a stable internet connection provided on a case-by-case basis.

Do I have to be working in a social enterprise to qualify?

No. Although many of our Leadership Accelerator Alumni do work in social enterprises, we encourage applicants working with any kind of initiative that is connected to small-scale fisheries advancement. This could include and is not limited to serving as a community leader or leader of a local fishing group, serving as representative of the fishing industry, working in civil society to build local partnerships, or serving in a government role. We are looking for people that have worked for at least five years in the small-scale fisheries space and have a vision for creating impact in their communities.

What are the academic qualifications for the Leadership Accelerator?

There are no specific academic prerequisites. 

Do I need to be from a specific country to apply?

This is a global program and we accept applications from small-scale fisheries leaders working across the globe. You will, however, need to be proficient in English to complete assignments and participate in discussions.


When and Where

When will the sessions be held?

Most of the assignments can be completed online at your own pace before the submission date every week. You will be expected to participate live during the weekly 2.5-hour Learning Lab sessions.

Where will the sessions be held?

This is an online program. The weekly Learning Labs will be hosted virtually via Zoom. You should have a stable internet connection and the ability to participate in video calls.

What are the program dates?

The program runs from June until August 2022. Group synchronous sessions are held every Wednesday beginning June 8 until August 24, 2022. The anticipated time of day for holding each group session will be from 12:00pm-2:30pm GMT, but may be slightly adjusted based on final cohort composition.

What happens after the program?

Following the program, you’ll join an alumni community of over 1000 social innovators around the world. We call the Acumen alumni community ‘The Foundry’ - where our aim is to accompany builders from around the world by connecting them with the resources and relationships to amplify their work in architecting a just, inclusive, and sustainable world. Specific to this program, participants will be granted access to a broader suite of technical resources, training materials, and tools to build climate-resilient fisheries solutions.

About Acumen Academy

Acumen Academy is the world’s school for social change. Our mission is to unleash a new generation of social innovators and leaders with the character and competence to build a more just, inclusive, and sustainable world. Blending the best of online and offline learning, we offer anyone, anywhere access to the practical tools, practices, resources, and supportive community they need to achieve positive social change. The Acumen Academy community represents a new generation of social innovators and leaders committed to doing what’s right in a world that loves easy.

Learn more at www.acumenacademy.org.