Women in Ghana lay out the catch for drying and preserving. | Photo: Anna-Katharina Hornidge, ZMT

The German and South African branches of the International Ocean Institute (IOI) have launched the cooperation project WIOGEN (West Indian Ocean Governance and Exchange Network) to strengthen  scientific  exchange, capacity development, and networking between marine actors in Germany and Africa.

The German initiator of the project is ZMT social scientist Prof. Dr. Anna-Katharina Hornidge. Since the start of the year, she is also the head of IOI Germany, located at the ZMT. The IOI, headquartered in Malta, is active in training and consulting on issues relating to the sustainable use of our seas and oceans. In the first years of its existence, it played a major role in the revision of international maritime law, which came into force in 1994.

WIOGEN (West Indian Ocean Governance & Exchange Network) is a scientific networking platform, and an integrative vision of social learning approaches that fosters regional ocean governance. The network will comprise a transdisciplinary science network of academic, policy-related, private and civil society partner institutions across the West Indian Ocean Region over a preliminary phase of two years (May 2019-April 2021). It complements other regional marine science networks by focusing explicitly on integrative ocean and coastal governance, thus purposefully bringing together the social and marine sciences. WIOGEN strongly focuses on the capacity development of early career ocean governance researchers, policymakers, tertiary educators, and development practitioners. Future decision-makers from science, politics and society will jointly develop concepts in the areas of food security, sustainable fisheries, aquaculture and alternative livelihoods, environmental pollution, biodiversity conservation and coastal zone management.

The partnership format thus adopts:

  1. a) an inclusive, democratically-organized science network structure comprising three thematic working groups – the organizational units for scientific exchange and joint academic publishing;
  2. b) tailored pedagogic and learning practices for capacity development of early career participants – via the sharing and co-development of regionally relevant Ocean Governance for Sustainability-related learning and pedagogic, partly virtual, formats. Based on these a concept for a West Indian Ocean regional graduate school on Ocean Governance for Sustainability will be developed within the network and for a continuance of the cooperation after the two years initial funding period;
  3. c) intra-regional and trans-continental (east Africa-Europe) policy advice – based on the model of an inclusively growing/evolving institutional network in line with core objectives of the “MeerWissen” initiative. It will bring together scientific institutions, state authorities, International Organizations, the private sector, and civil society players – with the aim to scientifically inform policy-making in the West Indian Ocean Region, as well as in cooperation with the European Network ‘Ocean Governance for Sustainability’ (www.oceangov.eu), on the level of the European Union.

Thematically the science and policy network will be structured around three selected ocean governance themes: (a) nutritional security, sustainable fisheries, aquaculture and livelihoods; (b) marine spatial planning and coastal management; (c) biodiversity conservation, pollution and habitat loss.  The WIOGEN consortium is further strengthened by joint advisory roles played by major regional, national and local actors that include WIOMSA and CORDIO, alongside state-based scientific institutes, civil society organizations and policy entities.


Projekt Partners (Germany)


International Project Partners

Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT):

WG Development and Knowledge Sociology

WG Institutional and Behavioural Economics

WG Ecophysiology


Core advisory regional networks

Coastal Oceans Research and Development – Indian Ocean /CORDIO East Africa, Mombasa, Kenya

West Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA), Zanzibar/Tanzania