I was going to be a famous singer, like ‘Christina Aguilera with a show-in-Vegas’ famous, but alas, the universe had other plans.
As it turns out, my passion is for conservation and figuring out how to change the world (way more than singing). I started working at WILDTRUST – a leading environmental NPO in South Africa, – more than eight years ago, in Marketing and Communications. The conservation sector was doing some amazing stuff – but nobody was talking about it.
In that time I also noticed that there were some not so nice “supposed” conservation activities happening that needed to be exposed. Blood Lions was the first advocacy campaign I worked on – it exposed the canned hunting and captive predator breeding industry worldwide. The campaign inspired significant shifts in governance and resulted in the bad guys being taken to task. This is when the advocacy bug bit me.
WILDOCEANS, the marine conservation, research and capacity building arm of WILDTRUST, launched an advocacy and awareness campaign to outline the benefits of marine protected areas (MPAs) and highlight ocean threats – with the goal of advancing protection in the oceans around South Africa.
Amid stiff opposition from the oil and gas industries, a broad-based coalition of organisations including WILDOCEANS, Ocean Unite, WWF-SA, Centre for Environmental Rights and the South African Association for Marine Biological Research (SAAMBR) launched the campaign called ‘Only This Much SA’, seeking to mobilise a regional movement for increased protection across all African national waters and Africa’s Southern Ocean territories.
On its launch in March 2018 Only This Much SA spread awareness about the (then) 0.4 per cent protection, and pushed hard for an increase to 5 per cent, creating conversations in media (social, online, print and broadcast) to make MPAs more mainstream. The approval by South Africa’s Cabinet in October of 20 new and expanded MPAs, bringing the total protection of the oceans around South Africa up to 5 per cent, was a massive win for marine conservation in African waters (and yes, champagne was drunk).
The 2018 UN Biodiversity Conference was held in November in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt – bringing together the global community to assess progress towards achieving sustainable development targets and deliberate on measures needed to curb further degradation of natural systems and the consequent impacts on us.
A key measure is the Aichi Biodiversity Targets adopted as part of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at the Conference of the Parties (CoP10) held in Aichi-Nagoya in Japan. This committed the parties (South Africa being one of them) to achieving at least 10 per cent protection of the coastal and marine environment within MPAs by 2020. Now, just two years from the Aichi Biodiversity Target deadline, how is South Africa doing?
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