The Youth for Marine Protected Areas (Youth4MPAs) are a diverse group of young passionate ocean warriors spread across Africa, who strive to improve ocean protection, both for nature and our people.
The Youth4MPAs’ steering committee members recently held two educational workshops at the Mabibi and KwaDapha community resource hubs (established through a partnership between WILDTRUST, the Blue Action Fund, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority) in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
The aim of these workshops was to help provide a better understanding of the benefits of MPAs to the local youth and to facilitate youth engagement and gain knowledge from their experiences living within an MPA.
“Our engagements were truly positive as the youth showed initiative and expressed how they felt about MPAs. Concerns were raised linked to enforcement and the management of MPAs within the communities,” said Sophumelela Qoma, Youth4MPAs Spokesperson.
When asked to share what they loved about the ocean, Kwanele Makhanya, from Mabibi said, “I’m grateful for the ocean because of the number of opportunities it has provided for us as the youth and thank you to Youth4MPAs for sharing their knowledge as we work together to preserve our oceans.”
“The programme also incorporated interactive sessions such as listening circles and open discussions which helped the youth engage further on their connection with the ocean and why each of us believe in its protection,” said Kajal Lechman, of the WILDTRUST.
Youth4MPAs are committed to being the driving force for change in South Africa and are ready to work with all stakeholders to help provide better protection for the ocean and to ensure that it happens in an effective, just, and equitable manner.
In a closing statement Qoma said, “When we stand together, we are stronger, and this strength is what will help us build a better tomorrow.”
Youth4MPAs hope to host additional workshops in the future where the themes of the sessions are guided by the youth that live in and around MPAs.
Photos by Mnqobi Zuma