Mayor Linnert with city councillor Madlala and some of the "Ocean Champs“ | Photo: Senatspressestelle

07.06.2018 | During a joint delegation trip of the Bremen Senate and the Chamber of Commerce to South Africa and Namibia, Bremen’s Mayor Karoline Linnert visited young marine conservationists in the South African city of Durban. The training of 15 so-called "Ocean Champs" is part of a cooperation project between Bremen and Durban for marine environmental education. The project is financially supported by the state of Bremen, the exchange of knowledge is supported by the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT), among others.

“The increasing plastic pollution of the seas affects everyone in the world and we can only meet this challenge together. The training and work of the ‘Ocean Champs’ in Bremen’s twin city Durban is exemplary and contributes to solving the problem," explained Mayor Karoline Linnert after her visit to the cooperation project “Bremen-Durban Network for Marine Environmental Education”.

Dr. Nicolas Dittert, Managing Director of the ZMT, explains: "The Ocean Champs project within the Bremen-Durban Network for Marine Environmental Education shows how knowledge exchange between partners can be successfully implemented. Education is extremely important in all countries of the world and plays a very special role in the sustainable fight against poverty. Supporting capacity development projects is an important part of our institute’s mission."

The “Ocean Champs” - supported by a grant from the city of Durban - learn about the consequences of marine pollution caused by plastics, learn to take soil and water samples, learn about climate change and its consequences, learn interesting facts about the role of mangroves and organise their own projects, such as beach cleaning activities. Linnert learned from the prospective “Ocean Champs” that they successfully persuade communities and sensitize other people to the problem.

The project comprises three different areas: in addition to the 15 young adults, 35 seventh-graders are to be trained as young “Ocean Champs” from the beginning of July. They are encouraged to take an interest in the subject “Marine Environmental Education” and learn about the ocean. Many children in Durban cannot swim or are afraid to swim in the sea because they are scared of sea snakes, which do not actually exist there. The third course of the “Ocean Champs” is aimed at teachers who already have knowledge in marine environmental education and who are now to receive additional information as a “training for the trainer”.

All three groups are asked to act in their own way as multipliers in Durban and pass on their knowledge. For young adults, the two-year training programme also offers a wider range of career opportunities, whether as a municipal employee in local government or as a freelancer in the tourism industry.

"This is a good example of lively town-twinning," said Karoline Linnert. “We support each other, learn from each other and achieve with relatively little money that future generations develop career prospects and have a closer look at their environment and the consequences of climate change. That's what I call sustainable.”

See also webnews "Bremen and Durban together for cleaner oceans - Kick off at ZMT" from 22/1/2018.