About the MeerWissen Initiative

MeerWissen was initiated in 2018 by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and seeks to provide policy-makers with the scientific information they need to take profound decisions for the effective management and conservation of Africa’s ocean and coasts.

The project’s name ‘MeerWissen’ is a pun that plays on the German words for ‘sea’ (‘Meer’) and ‘more’ (‘mehr’), which are homophones, as well the word for ‘knowledge’ (‘Wissen’). The title perfectly captures the project’s aim: to know more about the ocean.

„Our ocean is under threat. Pollution, overfishing and climate change are having a particularly severe impact on 800 million people whose livelihoods depend on fisheries and aquaculture. In order to protect the oceans in the long term, policymakers need a sound basis of knowledge. The MeerWissen Initiative therefore supports cooperation between African and German marine scientists, thus improving the knowledge available to inform political decision-making in our partner countries. In South Africa, for example, efforts are underway to close knowledge gaps on the status of coastal and marine habitats and to raise coastal communities' and political decision-makers' awareness of the value of healthy ecosystems.”  

Dr. Gerd Müller  
Former German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development 

MeerWissen aims at improving the conditions for
knowledge- and science-based policy-making for the conservation and
sustainable use of the ocean in selected African countries by...

… strengthening the capabilities of African partners in marine research and building knowledge through African-German partnership projects

… stimulating dialogue and the transfer of knowledge between marine researchers and policy-makers

… fostering digital solutions, innovation and the use of new technologies

Time to turn the tide

The ocean makes up 71 per cent of our planet’s surface. Life as we know it would not be possible without it: fish feed millions of people, healthy coral reefs buffer shorelines against waves, storms and floods, and mangroves store enormous amounts of carbon dioxide. Coastal regions are the sites of important cultural developments, both past and present, and it goes without saying that the resources provided by the ocean are essential for economic development. These goods and services help to ensure the wellbeing of our growing population. By 2050 more than three quarters of the global population – estimated to reach 9 billion people – will live within 100 km of a coastline.

Yet the ocean is more at risk than ever. Overfishing, habitat loss, pollution and climate change are only some of the threats marine and coastal ecosystems face. These man-made pressures put ecosystems and their benefits at risk.

Cooperating to build knowledge

Given the growing pressure on our ocean, BMZ will continue to step up its activities to ensure that future generations will be able to benefit from healthy marine and coastal ecosystems. The Ten-point Plan of Action for Marine Conservation and Sustainable Fisheries brings together all of BMZ’s ocean-related activities. To successfully implement the Plan of Action, BMZ supports a growing number of projects in partner countries and regions and in cooperation with international partners.

Achieving the targets of the 2030 Agenda – including Sustainable Development Goal 14 (‘Life below water’) – requires enhanced global partnerships that bring together multiple actors to mobilise all available resources and capacities. Close collaboration with marine research is key to provide decision-makers at both policy and management level with up-to-date information to effectively protect and manage marine resources. In many African countries, however, this information and data is often unavailable, inaccessible or outdated. MeerWissen was developed in this setting to address the challenge of lacking data and limited science for policy transfer.

MeerWissen is an initiative of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and part of BMZ’s activities in implementing its Ten-point Plan of Action for Marine Conservation and Sustainable Fisheries. The implementation of MeerWissen is facilitated by GIZ’s Marine Conservation Support Project. In the Western Indian Ocean region, MeerWissen is implemented in cooperation with the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA).