Seaweed is starting to gain the attention it deserves, and there are some fascinating projects underway. For example, Kelp Blue in Namibia who are re-wilding the ocean by planting kelp forests; Ocean Farmers in Madagascar who are using an innovative model in communities called “contractual village aquaculture with relational governance”; Or Prof Tim Flannery who has a vision for mobile oceangoing farms to combat climate change.
We are also seeing growing interest in seaweed across the UNDP network. AccLab Namibia are working with a local innovator to use seaweed for chicken feed during droughts; AccLab Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean are investigating seaweed to create biodegradable packaging; and in Mexico they are using seaweed to create bricks for homes.
In South Africa, we are currently conducting a research study in coastal communities to surface perceptions on seaweed, seaweed use, and any indigenous knowledge or grassroots solutions relating to seaweed. We are also collaborating with Vincent Doumeizel at UN Global Compact and Philippe Potin at CNRS in France - veritable Seaweed Sealebrities (sorry I couldn’t help it). They have recently published the Seaweed Manifesto and will be supporting the setting-up of an African Technical Working Group on seaweed in 2021 with the funding opportunities provided by the Lloyd’s Register Foundation for their project of a global Safe Seaweed Coalition. We are expanding our seaweed society, bringing together all forms of actors, stakeholders, and people passionate about environmental sustainability to begin building a global offer on seaweed solutions.
Coming back to how we value and prioritise the environment: as we close off this unprecedented year that has exacerbated existing development challenges as well as created new ones, let’s not take our eyes off the picture that is bigger than the pandemic: our survival is dependent on the health of our planet.
As the UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a recent speech, “Let’s be clear: human activities are at the root of our descent towards chaos. But that means human action can help solve it. Making peace with nature is the defining task of the 21st century”.
Let’s build back better, and build back BLUER! If you are interested in joining the seaweed revolution (viva!), please get in touch with me at email@example.com