Our TOP 10 highlights in 2023
The UN General Comment on Children’s Rights and a Healthy Environment refers to the ocean, following on Hub advice

The 2023 UN General Comment No. 26 on children’s rights and the environment with a special focus on climate change, adopted by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, clarifies States’ obligations to protect children’s human rights from marine pollution, unsustainable fisheries and biodiversity loss. The Hub had contributed to various stages of the development of the General Comment and remains engaged with global networks to support its implementation in the context of ocean and climate governance.

Read more here and here >>

Listen to our podcast here >>

See also our recent policy briefs here, here, here, here and here >>

The Hub becomes implementing partner of the UN Ocean Decade

In October 2023, the Hub was endorsed as the UN Ocean Decade Implementing Partner. Under this mandate, the Hub offers a comprehensive methodology for profound understanding of the ocean, upholding inclusive, respectful, and fair ocean research practices across Global North and South through our program entitled “Transdisciplinary Toolbox of Ocean Knowledge Co-Production for Transformative Governance.”

The Hub’s human rights work has been recognized and integrated by the United Nations

As part of the Global Coalition for the universal recognition of everyone’s human right to a healthy environment, the Hub together with over 1350 civil society organisations, Indigenous peoples, social movements and local communities, was awarded the United Nations Human Rights Prize in 2023.

Read more here >>

In addition, in 2023, the Hub’s research findings have been referenced in a variety of UN documents:

The Hub showcased arts-based and human rights-based research at the official closing of the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA)

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) invited the Hub to contribute to the closing events of the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA) in Rome in March 2023, building on our close collaboration on the protection of the human rights of small-scale fishers. The South African Empatheatre play Lalela uLwandle (Listen to the Sea) was performed at FAO, following the play’s success at the Climate COP27. In addition, the Hub organised a series of workshops on arts-based and human rights-based approaches to ocean governance. The Hub has, since then, contributed to the planning of follow-up action after IYAFA, including the preparations for the 2024 Small-scale Fishers’ Summit.

Read more here, here and here >>

Empatheatre co-creator Mpume Mthombeni’s performance ‘Why storytelling is the sacred medicine ocean governance needs’ received standing ovation at UN Headquarters

Empatheatre co-creator and performer Mpume Mthombeni (South Africa) was invited to perform at the Spotlight segment during the UN World Oceans Day celebrations in New York in June 2023. She received three rounds of applause and a standing ovation. Her performance was flanked by the international premiere of the Empatheatre’s animation Indlela Yokuphila (The Soul’s Journey) and an innovative workshop on arts-based and human rights-based approaches to ocean governance.

Watch the performance here >>

Read more here, here and here >>

Small-scale fishers’ voices heard at pop-up legal clinics and platformed on Ghanian TV

In Ghana, Hub researchers set up innovative pop-up legal clinics where small-scale fisher women could share their concerns relating to work, for example failure by borrowers (often fishermen) to repay money lent to them by the women, loan defaults involving multiple parties, and unfair dealings by business partners. The participating women came away from the workshops with much clearer understandings of their rights and possible steps to secure them.

Small-scale fisher voices were also heard in a praised documentary ‘Cocooned in Harmony’ directed by Hub researcher Eric Otchere (University of Cape Coast). The film has been aired twice on Ghanaian national TV, after a series of screenings at a community level.

Read more here, here and here >>

Capacity building deep-sea cruise, drone fishing ban and judicial victories in South Africa

History was made with Hub research in South Africa in 2023, in three different areas. First, a capacity building offshore cruise  executed the deepest lander dive in South Africa. The cruise advanced the capacity, technology, and multidisciplinary knowledge of early-career researchers and postgraduate students from South Africa and Namibia.

Second, the South African government deemed the use of drones and other electronic devices illegal in marine recreational fishing, shortly after the Hub’s transdisciplinary research to shine a light on drone fishing practice and its potential impacts was published.

Third, Empatheatre play Lalela uLwandle was relied as evidence to support successful appeals against licenses for offshore oil and gas exploration through seismic surveys, which negatively affect marine life and the livelihoods and culture of coastal fishing communities. Exploration rights on the Wild Coast granted to Shell and Impact Africa were successfully contested on the grounds of inadequate consultation with communities. Read Dylan McGarry’s (Rhodes University) book chapter ‘When ancestors are included in ocean and decision-making’ here >>

Film focusing on Topnaar people’s connections to the ocean screened at Climate COP28

At Climate COP28 (Dubai, November 2023), an extract from a short film produced by the Hub titled “Hurinin, People of the Sea” was screened at the Ocean Decade + OceanX Pavilion. The film portrays Topnaar people’s continued connection to the ocean, despite having been displaced from the coast in Namibia. The film shows Topnaar youth Glenn Kasper’s research efforts to engage with the elders’ living memories of their people’s intangible cultural heritage, and how the Hub has been facilitating connections between the Topnaar people and decision-makers, so they can be recognised as stakeholders and right-holders in ocean-climate governance processes.

Read impact story here >>

BBNJ Agreement includes provisions on regional strategic environmental assessments and iterative capacity building as advocated by the Hub

In 2023, the new “high seas treaty” or Agreement on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biodiversity of Areas beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) was adopted, with provisions on regional strategic environmental assessments and on iterative capacity building, as advocated by the Hub during the latest rounds of international negotiations in 2022 (see herehere and here).

In 2024, the Hub will produce a new series of policy briefs to support the implementation of the BBNJ Agreement, building on our latest inter-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary research findings, which have also been included in our submissions to the three international courts required to clarify States’ obligations on climate change.

Read more here here and here >>

Listen to our podcast here >>

More than 7000 visitors to ‘Undercurrents: Art and Ocean in Africa and the Pacific’

The exhibition Undercurrents: Art and Ocean in Africa and the Pacific showcased creative DEEP Fund outputs. Iterations of the exhibition were held at the Glasgow School of Art’s Reid Gallery in April 2023, the London Biennale in June 2023, and at the 7th Melanesian Arts and Culture Festival in Vanuatu in July 2023. These exhibitions attracted over 7000 visitors. A digital version of the exhibition is available here, and individual projects will be incorporated into the One Ocean Learn platform. The transformative potential of art for ocean governance exemplified by the DEEP Fund projects will be discussed at the 3rd World Biodiversity Forum 2024 “From Science to Action” (Davos, Switzerland, 16-20 June 2024).

Read more here, here and here >>