Four co-authored papers arise from the Hub’s knowledge integration workshop

By Nina Rivers and Laura Merilainen

Hub researchers from Ghana, Namibia, South Africa, the Caribbean and the UK convened at Nelson Mandela University in Gqeberha, South Africa for a five-day writing workshop (5-9 February 2024) to collaborate on inter-disciplinary papers focussing on high-impact Hub themes: Transdisciplinarity; Culture and art; Socio-legal aspects of small-scale fisheries; Climate vulnerability and National Blue Economy policies. The overall purpose of the writing workshop was to integrate work across the Hub through academic papers and funding proposals. Over the course of the week, Hub researchers co-authored papers, integrating lessons and knowledge across disciplines and national experiences.  

Four co-authored papers are currently underway: 

  • Paper 1: “The complexities within SSF and RF definitions: a comparative analysis between Ghana, Namibia and South Africa”;
  • Paper 2: “Does A Rising Tide Float All Boats?  A Comparative Analysis of the Blue Economy & Small Scale Fisheries in South Africa, Namibia, Ghana and the Caribbean”;
  • Paper 3: “TD or not TD-that is our question: Using transdisciplinary approaches for delivering development outcomes”;
  • Paper 4: “Ocean governance, culture heritage, and human rights: Exploring critical intersections through collaborative and art-based approaches in Ghana, Namibia and South Africa”.

In terms of the value and impact of the workshop, Hub researchers found it very useful to work together in person to discuss key Hub themes as well as to take stock of our progress as a team over the last five years.

As one of the participants noted, “It [the workshop] was an opportunity to delve much deeper into a specific and core issue of the Hub in a small group setting”. Another Hub researcher noted, “Developing a high impact paper is not an easy task when doing it on your own. I found it easier developing it collectively”.

Early-career researchers embrace a change to (co)-lead papers

Central to the workshop was also to capacitate early-career researchers (ECRs). To this end, two of the four papers are led by ECRs and all of them are co-authored with ECRs.

Early-career researcher Natanah Gusha, a marine biologist, who has been working for the Hub at the University of Namibia and Rhodes University in South Africa, reflects on paper 1 that she’s co-leading:

“The paper we are currently working on focuses on the complexities surrounding the overlaps in definitions of recreational fisheries and small-scale fisheries across Ghana, South Africa, and Namibia. It is our current understanding that the definitions of these sectors in each of these countries are informed by varying motives such as customary laws, human rights and social norms which significantly differ geographically. These are however not fully understood creating grey areas/areas of conflict within and between the two fisheries, our paper therefore aims to elucidate these complexities and or grey areas and make recommendations on how they can be addressed for improved resource management and livelihood support.”

“Being one of the lead authors allows me to be very hands-on through the entire writing process of the paper which is a much-needed experience for me as an ECR”, Natanah says.

Early-career researcher Elsemi Olwage (University of Namibia) is involved in co-authoring Paper 4 on ocean governance, culture heritage, and human rights. The paper focuses on integrating cultural heritage into marine and coastal governance and how crucial it is for inclusion, recognition and protecting of human rights.

“Whose heritage is recognised and included, and how, matters, especially in contexts of marginalisation and power and knowledge asymmetries. This paper looks at collaborative and art-based research processes across the Hub, including in Ghana, Namibia, and South Africa, as innovative examples of bridging gaps between policy and practice, enabling dialogue and different knowledge systems and worldviews to be shared and surfaced, and as tools for influencing decision-making and right-based advocacy over the long-term” Elsemi explains.

A highlight of the workshop for Elsemi was to learn about her Namibian colleagues’ future research ideas.

“It illuminated the ongoing gap of growing impact through realising future interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary coastal and oceans-based research proposals and programmes in Namibia. This inspired me to pursue possible funding options in this direction.”

The workshop also supported and reflected many of the Hub’s Code of Practice guiding principles such as integration, building trust and inclusiveness, creating a nourishing environment and supporting Hub researchers to contribute to inter- and transdisciplinary research.

The integration writing workshop was designed to contribute to plans towards the Hub’s legacy, as well as the 2024 Ocean Decade Conference to be held in Barcelona, Spain 8-12 April as well as the May 2024 Hub’s closing conference to be held in Cape Town, South Africa in May 2024.

The full workshop report can be found here

The knowledge integration writing team of Hub researchers in Gqeberha, south africa 8 February, 2024. Photo: Pippin Searle

Related SDGs:

  • Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • Reduced inequality
  • Sustainable cities and communities
  • Climate action
  • Life below water