SAAMBR flag flies high at Science for Sustainability event in Germany

  • 04 February 2015 | Judy Mann, conservation strategist | Category: Research

Representing Africa at the ZMT Workshop: Kwame Koranteng from the FAO in Rome; Judy Mann from SAAMBR in South Africa; and Julius Francis from WIOMSA in Zanzibar

The ancient city of Bremen in northern Germany in temperatures of 2°C was an unlikely place to be discussing the challenges of communicating marine science in the tropics. However, in mid-January 2015, this was the venue for the first ZMT Workshop on Science for Sustainability – the Contribution of Transdisciplinary Knowledge Exchange. And SAAMBR was in attendance.  

Hosted by the Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT), the workshop aimed to determine best practices that could help researchers to link scientific inquiry to knowledge exchange. This is increasingly necessary, given the many calls to make science more relevant to society.

Attended by almost 100 scientists, administrators, students, government representatives, funders and a smattering of science communicators, the workshop was an interesting mix of traditional presentations and interactive workshop sessions.

In addition to the European presentations, there were also talks from participants based in Fiji, Washington, the United Kingdom, Zanzibar and Brazil. As the SAAMBR conservation strategist, I was asked to attend the workshop to do a presentation on SAAMBR’s many contributions to science communication in the Western Indian Ocean.

The workshop was conducted in an atmosphere of open communication; presentations were listened to intently and I was impressed by the quality of the interactions that I had with many of the European participants. The scientists appeared to have a genuine desire to make their science more relevant, both at home and more especially in the countries in which the work is undertaken.

It is clear that SAAMBR is way ahead of many organisations in terms of its range of activities and its ability to communicate the relevance of research. Many people commented that as an NGO, SAAMBR can serve as a role model to many other NGOs operating in Africa and further afield.

A great number of ideas were generated, which will be collated to produce a set of guidelines for knowledge exchange. It is hoped that these guidelines will help to ensure that scientists, particularly in the ZMT, and hopefully European science organisations in general, undertake their research and communicate their knowledge in a way that really does benefit the people on the ground in the countries in which they undertake their work.

Participants at the ZMT knowledge-exchange workshop in Bremen engage in some group work

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