From the 5-9 March 2018, the Mami Wata partners and the Benguela Current Convention organized a Marine Spatial Planning training in Swakopmund (Namibia) for participants from West, Central and Southern Africa.
The event was the first Mami Wata training for English-speaking practitioners on the topic of Marine Spatial Planning (MSP), and followed a similar workshop for French-speaking participants in the end of 2017.
By bringing together over 20 participants for `Blue Planning in Practice´, a method developed by the Blue Solutions Initiative, the workshop introduced the group to both theoretical perspectives and practical knowledge on MSP. The participants came from several countries, including representatives from Angola, Ghana, Liberia, Namibia, Nigeria, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone and South Africa.
Anja Kreiner from the Namibian Ministry of Fisheries and Natural Recourses, and chairperson of the Namibian MSP Working Group, opened the event and presented on the currently undergoing Namibian MSP process. Hashali Hamukaya, Executive Secretary of the Benguela Current Convention, presented on the Convention´s work on regional strategies for MSP in the Benguela Current Convention´s countries Angola, Namibia and South Africa. The presentations on the national and regional MSP processes provided an important backdrop to the workshop.
The Blue Planning in Practice training course was based on participatory group work and exercises, in which the group advanced on several important components of MSP. It offered the participants the opportunity to explore topics such as identification of needs and designing a process; development of a shared vision, objectives and goals; and organization of stakeholder participation and negotiations. After each session, the participants had a chance to reflect on the exercise and how it might be relevant to their own countries.
Richard DaCosta, Program Officer in Abidjan Convention Secretariat, was happy to see the second of the Mami Wata MSP trainings. He added that “conservation and sustainable use of marine areas along the African Atlantic coast requires cooperation and coordination among relevant sectors and stakeholders. An MSP process can provide a framework to tackle the challenges related to the many uses of coastal and marine areas, and provide solutions moving forward”.
As a real-life example of the many human activities in the marine environment, the group visited Walvis Bay for a field excursion. The Namibian city hosts the country´s largest harbor and the only deep-sea harbor, while also being an important area for fishing and aquaculture activity, as well as a center for tourists who are interested in seeing dolphins, seals, whales, pelicans and flamingos.
At the end of the week, the participants were asked to draft a personal action plan to develop their MSP skills further, before the workshop was concluded with a final session where the participants received the Blue Planning in Practice certificates.
Miles Macmillan-Lawler, Programme leader for State of Environment and Spatial Planning at GRID-Arendal sees this as an important step in the Mami Wata project, building a strong network of MSP practitioners in the region: “the participants brought a wealth of knowledge and experience from MSP in their own countries. Their willingness to share and learn from each other was one of the keys to the success of this workshop.”