Sustainable Oceans Lab

Punta Allen

The Sustainable Oceans Lab (SOL) was established by two parts of GIZ – Blue Solutions, which works on identifying solutions to ocean problems, and the Global Leadership Academy. The Social Lab approach promotes creativity and innovation in developing and planning solutions to complex problems, through a prototyping approach. This means rapidly identifying solutions, trialling aspects of them and adapting quickly.

The SOL will run from about May 2015 to February 2016, with three workshops. The first was held in Vilm, Germany (May 2015), the second in Yucatan, Mexico (August 2015) and the last will be in South Africa (February 2016). Several regional and thematic lab groups were identified and invited to join the lab. The Northern Mozambique Channel (NMC) was considered as one of the potential regional groups, but we were not far enough advanced in identifying leaders in the NMC.

Nevertheless, two participants from the NMC region participated in the second lab meeting in Mexico – André Tahindro, the Director General for Oceans, Madagascar, and David Obura, CORDIO.

‘Prototyping groups’ were established at Vilm to work on some key questions. In Mexico, there were rejigged into four groups:

  • Integrated Ocean Management (with a strong focus on African marine regions – the Abidjan and Nairobi Conventions)
  • Connecting and Organizing Communities
  • Resilience in coastal 
  • Co-existence of human activities and the ecological and biological values of EBSAs

A number of cross-cutting themes were also identified, with one on applying the Capitals Approach among the main prototype groups.

David Obura/CORDIO volunteered to help coordinate the IOM and Capitals Approach prototype groups.

The Mexico workshop included a fascinating field trip to Punta Allen, in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, also a World Heritage Site. The fishing community there, starting in the early 1970s, has had the unique opportunity to establish a sustainable lobster fishery, now certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), based on cement shelters the fishers put out on the extensive reef flats.