Marine governance: what it’s all about and why it matters

17th March 2020
conservation | new initiatives | people | water

This month, one of our current projects reaches an important peak…

In collaboration with our partners, the University of St. Andrews and Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS), we seek to improve the state of the marine area of Watamu. To do so, all people and organisations involved in the marine park come together to discussing the improvement their cooperation in the management of the area, a process collectively referred to as governance. The first big meeting was supposed to take place on this Thursday 19 March, but due to the ongoing global health situation and the Kenyan government directives, the meeting has been postponed.

We asked Allan, who has been working full time on Marine Governance for the last few months, to tell us more about the importance and vision of the Marine Governance Project…

What would be the simplest and quickest way to describe your project to others?

I like to describe it by breaking it down in three sections. Our first step is to look back at the past, and at how the marine area, which includes both the Marine Park and the Marine Reserve, has been protected so far. After that we look at what is happening currently due to past decisions.

Based on these two factors we then plan for the future for the marine area.

Our aim is to bring all partners with interest in the Watamu Marine Park and Reserve to come together and develop a common vision.

 

What do you expect to happen during the workshop?

We plan to have a workshop where all stakeholders come together. These were going to be all the partners including organisations, hotels and others that are interested and have a day to day interaction with the Marine Park and Reserve. Our objective was to strengthen their relationships and to share the information we already collected about the Marine Park and Mida Creek. The participants are then expected to help us fill in the gaps with missing information. One of the outcomes will be a report which will inform broader audiences about all the relevant governance information regarding the Marine Park and Reserve.

Can you tell us your personal motivation for this project?

My first interaction with A Rocha in 2014 really opened my mind regarding matters of conservation and their importance.

Further, I like working and supporting the less powerful actors; the underdogs. People are part of conservation, because they are the ones who do the practical conservation activities.Thus, in my perspective, addressing conservation without involving them is problematic in the long-term.

I ask myself: “How do I ensure that the voices of those doing conservation efforts at the grassroots are heard at top levels?” I believe that everyone deserves this chance, and the beauty of getting involved in such a project is that I can contribute to facilitate that.

People are part of conservation, because they are the ones who do the practical conservation activities.

What are the biggest challenges you are facing regarding the project?

Everyone interested in the Marine space has different concerns and viewpoints, and it is almost impossible to bring all together and find a shared vision of how the marine governance should look like. But we will strive to find some good compromises for everyone. Another difficulty is that the concept of governance is not easily communicated and understood, and therefore usually pushed to the side. We must be careful when unpacking it, and promote it as a powerful tool to be used to build common good for all, and for the protection of our beautiful Marine Park.

Thank you Allan, we wish you all the best and good success for the workshop and the project’s future!

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