Ocean professionals are keen to apply new tools and lessons learned from specialised courses run by the Commonwealth Secretariat.
Better managing ocean spaces
The online training programme, currently being rolled out, aims to help countries better manage their ocean spaces. Topics range from how to map mangroves using advanced technology; to linking science and policymaking; to engaging stakeholders and raising funds to deliver successful projects.
To date, more than 500 local professionals from across the Commonwealth have signed up for the various courses, which were freely available on a first-come-first-serve basis.
Benefits from the course
Taati Eria, a senior fisheries officer at the Ministry of Fisheries in Kiribati, said she benefitted from the course on stakeholder engagement: “We are grateful for the resources shared which are quite useful to our work. Even though we encountered few difficulties with the internet connection, we are thankful to our trainers. We did learn new tools that are quite new to us and are useful in engaging our stakeholders.”
Rhea Kanhai, an environmental officer at Guyana’s Environmental Protection Agency took the course on mapping mangroves. She added: “The course was well worth it and I’ll definitely implement what I learnt in my work.”
Solutions for ocean challenges
The initiative marks an important milestone under the Commonwealth Blue Charter – a historic agreement by the 54 countries of the Commonwealth to work actively together to find solutions for ocean challenges and meet global commitments on ocean health.
Head of Oceans and Natural Resources at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Nicholas Hardman-Mountford said the places for online courses were filled within days:
“The feedback so far has been extremely positive. These training opportunities are such an important step in translating high-level global commitments on ocean governance and protection – including those related to the Sustainable Development Goals – to practical action that actually makes a difference to the lives of people on the ground.
“Ultimately our aim is to build lasting capacity within countries to better manage ocean resources by upskilling local people who carry out the work in the sector. We are fortunate to have world class partners with whom the Secretariat is collaborating to make this programme possible.”
Commonwealth Blue Charter
Some of the courses were based on pressing needs identified by Commonwealth Blue Charter ‘action groups’ – voluntary clusters of member countries that have joined up to collaborate on specific ocean challenges. To date, there are 10 action groups, led by 13 champion countries covering issues such as marine plastic pollution, climate change, and mangrove restoration.
The course offered on mangroves was an initiative from the Mangrove Ecosystems and Livelihoods Action Group to support the development of management plans and pilot programmes across the Commonwealth.