The University of the Western Cape and external partners joined hands in a beach clean up which took place on Saturday, 14th January 2023 at the Black River, Milnerton Cape Town.
Community engagement at UWC has been a growing commitment to the Scholarship of Engagement. The UWC SoE for SI framework is a result of this need from an institution, country and international perspective to the commitment of societal impact. It has evolved through participation in several consultations, deliberations, and partnerships. These partners join hands at all levels of the institution to ensure transformation towards societal Impact.
UWC has various partners onboard this social responsibility mission to clean up local environments through community engagement, contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals. These partners include the office of the DVC: Research and Innovation, Confucius Institute at UWC, Southern African – Nordic Centre (SANORD), Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL) and Captain Fanplastic programme representatives.
During the beach clean-up, SANORD chair, Pro-Rector Gro Anita Fonnes Flaten, said: “As we cooperate together - so many different conversations, organsations, so many people connecting - this is part of how our engagement of SANORD interlinks with the SDGs and our contribution.”
Natanala Golis, deputy mayor in Bergen, said: “I'm a politician and I'm super proud to be a part of this journey. We need much more collaboration between the Global North and the Global South because there's so much to learn from each other. And maybe what was most amazing about this sailing trip, right from Maputo to Cape Town, was that we had 31 nationalities on board who are all young inspired students, with Master's and PhD students who are working on the ocean. So, their common ground is their love of the ocean and the desire to take care of it, some as biologists. Realising that we all have this willingness, irrespective of our levels in organisations or in universities, we have all these different levels working together.”
This statement highlights the importance of finding common ground. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals provide this common language and purpose.
UWC’s engagement goes beyond this, where communities and NGOs form part of the university community and its partners.
Captain Fanplastic is an environmental literacy programme that uses graphic storytelling, creativity and gamification to educate primary school kids about the impact of land-based pollution on the marine environment, and about the value of plastic should it be recycled. The learning objective is to create a mindset that plastic waste is #NoTrashButTreasure.
Yanga Gceya, partnership manager of South Africa, ‘Captain Fanplastic’, said, “South Africa has a social design agency called Soapbox, and we work around health, sustainability, as well as financial inclusion. One of our projects is environmental literacy programmes that teach people about the impact and value of plastic - how to refuse, reduce, reuse, and recycle plastic. In the HEPA competitive programme, focused on SDG 14, we have other SDG modules, specifically. This is the plastic card module which really touches on sub-target 14.1. We want to reduce pollution by 2025.and to manage single-use plastic recycling because we know South Africa has a big problem with waste management.”
In collaboration with the beach clean-up initiative, the One Ocean Expedition was an extension of this effort which took place on 17 and 18 January 2023 in Cape Town. The One Ocean Expedition is aimed at sharing knowledge about the crucial role of the ocean in sustainable development on a global scale. The One Ocean Expedition is a well-recognised part of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.
The initiative aims to contribute to the following SDGs:
4 - Quality Education,
6 - Clean Water and Sanitation,
12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
13 - Climate action,
14 - Life below water, and,
17 - Partnerships for the goals.
UWC Professor Moenieba Isaacs, who played a crucial role in the drafting of Sustainable fisheries and aquaculture for food security and nutrition, said, “I was asked by Paul Wogan who is leading this vessel from Bergen University to have a presentation on Food Security, but from a small fish scale perspective. My talks focused on food security, the food system as well as research we have been doing, especially during Covid, across South Africa, Ghana, and Tanzania, and highlighting the challenges when there's a crisis in food and informal food systems. We also find that fish is all exported and taken away nutrition.”
Connecting the importance of research and the politics of the food systems, all links back to policy and how it is implemented. Norway has just launched a strategy on food security looking at the global framework and contribution to the food and nutritional security of both ocean and inland fishing. It explores the link between food security and nutrition directly to the SDGs, and how aquatic foods and fish can be included. My focus is on SDG 14 and SDG 15, and even the social goals from SDG 1 to 5 are important to include.”
The drive towards sustainable development continues as various stakeholders partner to reach this together on an individual, institutional and sector level across the borders of the ocean.