International Ocean Institute – Africa Region (IOI-SA) – Ocean Governance for Africa course – online edition
During March 2021, IOI-SA organized its yearly Ocean Governance course, this time online, due to the regulations aimed at mitigating the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first online version of the IOI-SA Course in Ocean Governance for Africa ended on the 19th March, after 4 weeks of rich discussions, expert lectures and exercises. The 2021 edition was the 7th annual training, initially planned for September 2020. The regulations in place to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic have however prevented the usual face-to-face format of the training to take place. The course, this year organized in partnership with SAIMI and SANBI, was therefore held online.
The training course in Ocean Governance for Africa is designed to meet the specific ocean governance conditions of the African States. The course aims to provide an holistic overview of ocean governance issues around the continent, from climate change to maritime security. Five broad themes constitute the modules of the course manual:
Module 1: Oceans and Coasts – Opportunities and Threats
Module 2: The Governance Framework
Module 3: Governance Tools
Module 4: Governance in Action
Module 5: Creating a Supportive Environment for the Management of Oceans and Coasts
One of the advantages of the virtual format is the opportunity to have lecturers from all around Africa to share their expertise during the training. These included Dieynaba Seck – a representative of the Centre for Ecological Monitoring (CSE) from Senegal – presenting on Ecologically or Biological Significant Areas, and Paul Lamin – a representative of the Environmental Protection Agency Sierra Leone – presenting on State of the Marine Environment reporting. Mrs. Seck and Mr. Lamin, whose institutions are both Centres of Expertise for the MAMI WATA project, joined over 40 other experts representing 38 organisations from 12 African countries.
One of the priority aims of the training is developing a network of capacitated and empowered ocean practitioners around Africa. Although interactive discussions and meaningful engagement can be challenging online, IOI-SA has worked hard to encourage peer-to-peer learning and discussions in small break-out rooms in order to facilitate learning, and to allow for participants to getting to know each other. The lectures were complemented by various exercises, videos and reference documents including a course manual.
IOI-SA also commissioned the making of a short introductory video to Estuary Management, with the aim to making up for not taking participants into the field to view examples of governance in practice – which is normally a key component of the course. The video exposed participants to one of Cape Town’s most important estuaries – Zandvlei, explaining its history, its ecological importance, and the management strategies in place to keep this urban nature reserve functional. The video was made in collaboration with the City of Cape Town’s Zandvlei Conservation Team and with the Zandvlei Conservation Trust.
The course aims to contribute to developing a network of practitioners or “Ocean Ambassadors” that will continue to work towards, and promote responsible, knowledge-based ocean governance across Africa. While the course highlights the importance of the global governance framework, it has a regional focus, emphasizing the benefits of harmonizing ocean policies that promote a common and integrated approach to ocean management in Africa. It was gratifying for IOI-SA to receive feedback from participants that the virtual room was a good space for engage with one another and the lecturers. While we hope opportunities arise for the participants to meet in person in the future, we are sure they will continue engaging with each other and strengthen the friendships expand the network they have built.