Special Event: Coastal Ecosystem Monitoring (Cabo Verde - South Africa Collaboration)

The virtual event “Coastal Ecosystem Monitoring in Cabo Verde & South Africa” was convened by MeerWissen partners from Cabo Verde, South Africa and Germany on May 19th as part of the Ocean Visions Summit 2021 - Towards a global ecosystem for ocean solutions. Dr. Björn Fiedler (GEOMAR Helmholtz-Zentrum für Ozeanforschung Kiel & Ocean Science Centre Mindelo, OSCM) welcomed 86 participants from 25 countries to the event in which the MeerWissen partners have presented national efforts in developing or maintaining coastal ecosystem monitoring programs in Cabo Verde and South Africa.

Short presentations by Dr. Jörn Schmidt (Christian-Albrechts-Universität, CAU), Dr. Maya Pfaff (Department of Environmental Affairs Forestry and Fisheries South Africa, DEA/ University of Cape Town, UCT) and Mr. Vito Ramos (Instituto do Mar, IMar & Ocean Science Centre Mindelo, OSCM) highlighted initiatives and programs in both countries and elaborated on community-engaged coastal observations following a co-design and co-production approach. The MeerWissen project Coastal Ecosystem Monitoring in Cabo Verde (CEM_CV) as one of the presented projects is following this approach and benefitting from achievements and lessons learnt in South Africa. Mr. Sindisa Sigam (WWF South Africa) gave insights into the collaboration with local fishermen to conduct multi-species surveys of line fish and rock lobsters. Dr. Corrine Almeida (The Atlantic Technical University, Cabo Verde, UTA) further elaborated on training the next generation of West-African marine scientists and policy-makers under the umbrella of the multilateral WASCAL program (West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use).

In the second part of the event, panelists from different sectors, such as research institutions, universities, the economic sector and funding agencies got a chance to speak. Questions such as ‘How to best develop human capacities at the stakeholder level, strengthening university programs and furthering institutional capacities while improving data accessibility?‘ and ‚What are good training schemes for coastal communities and stakeholders to improve observation capacity as well as the use of data and data projects for the benefit of different sectors?’ were discussed. Panelists agreed that local stakeholders have to be involved in monitoring efforts from the very beginning on (in a co-design process) and that trust is prerequisite to successfully bringing together local communities, scientists and authorities. It has been emphasized that advancements in ocean technologies that are tailored to regional needs are an important pillar to facilitate both sustainable blue economy and environmental monitoring developments in the region.

The session showcased how the MeerWissen community of practice has fostered the Cabo Verdean – South African collaboration on coastal monitoring through a knowledge exchange between African countries.

The Ocean Visions 2021 Summit brought together a multi-sector community of researchers, innovators, decision-makers, funders, and more. Roadmaps for solving ocean challenges were developed, including ocean-based solutions to climate, equitable coastal solutions strategies for resilience and adaptation, marine circular economies, ocean & human health, and how to transform research from academia into sustainable businesses.