Mia Strand becomes a Research Fellow at Ocean Nexus focusing on equity in ocean literacies and children’s rights
Early-career researcher Mia Strand (Nelson Mandela University, South Africa) was recently appointed as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Ocean Nexus, in collaboration with the One Ocean Hub. Her research explores cognitive justice and equity in ocean literacies and children’s rights to a healthy ocean.
Beyond crucial aspects to all life such as oxygen production, the water cycle, climate regulation, and global food production, a healthy ocean is fundamental to children’s wellbeing across the globe, in securing a happy and healthy early years experience and supporting the transition into adulthood, and their access to sociocultural aspects such as cultural heritage, Indigenous knowledge systems, play and traditions that are inextricably linked to a healthy ocean.
However, ocean literacy efforts are often criticised for being didactic, positivistic and science-heavy, focusing on increasing people’s (and specifically children’s) knowledge of the biophysical aspects of marine ecosystems as understood from a largely Western academic standpoint (see MacNeil et al., 2021; Strand et al., 2023). UNESCO (2018) has even criticised their own approaches and ocean literacy toolkit, arguing that the work was absent of the voices of Indigenous and local knowledge systems, communities and people in the Global South.
Working closely with the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON) as a partner organisation, Mia will investigate how ocean literacies efforts can better situate the experiences of children in specific contexts, and emphasise the embodied and place-based influence on children’s priorities for, understandings of and interests in a healthy ocean. The research will centre arts-based research approaches such as storytelling (Strand, 2023), and reflect on ethics and equity in knowledge co-production processes such as transdisciplinarity and participatory approaches.
The broader partnership
The partnership between Ocean Nexus and the Hub started in November 2021, when Ocean Nexus, invited the Hub to deliver a presentation on ocean plastics and human rights at a webinar for the UN Decade organised by Ocean Voices, a UN Ocean Decade-endorsed action program within the Nippon Foundation Ocean Nexus Center that focuses on interdisciplinary solutions-oriented research to advancing understanding of problems facing ocean-dependent communities.
In 2022, the Hub and Ocean Nexus co-organised a workshop on research co-development for the UN Decade for Ocean Science Together with other partners, organised a joint side-event titled “The future and ocean WE (ALL) want: Inclusion and integration for strong, sustainable and equitable blue economies” at the second UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal. Since then, Hub Director Elisa Morgera has been a Research Associate of Ocean Nexus.
The One Ocean Hub and Ocean Nexus will explore further synergies between respective programmes for the UN Ocean Decade, including the Hub’s new programme on transdisciplinarity, which will be launched at the UN Decade Conference in Barcelona, Spain and continued collaboration with global networks focusing on children’s human rights on the relevance of the 2023 UN General Comment on Children’s Human Rights and a Healthy Environment for ocean conservation (see here, here, here and here).