Vodacom South Africa and WWF Renew Global Partnership to Uphold Ocean Conservation
The collaboration of Vodacom South Africa and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) South Africa has set the tone for a global partnership focused on ocean conservation. The groundbreaking global collaboration, which began in South Africa in 2010, will see Vodacom SA and other Vodafone markets strengthen their commitments to biodiversity protection as well as their vision of using digital innovation to support the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
“Preserving our oceans is critically important. Not only is fishing a crucial source of food and employment in coastal towns, but the ocean also plays a significant role in combatting climate change and promoting tourism in South Africa,” says Takalani Netshitenzhe, Chief Officer for External Affairs at Vodacom SA. “Unfortunately, our oceans are at serious risk due to factors such as illegal and unregulated fishing, pollution, and climate change. Through our partnership with WWF, we are finding ways to use technology to combat these issues and create a more sustainable and healthier marine future for all.”
The mobile technology company will use its resources to support the development of technological solutions that address conservation issues specific to South Africa. Under the WWF-SASSI (South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative), the focus of these projects will be on raising awareness of marine ecosystems and ocean literacy in order to address sustainable patterns of consumption and production (SDG 12) and conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for the benefit of future generations (SDG 14).
While the fishing industry accounts for less than 1% of South Africa’s GDP, the ocean is an important strategic sector for food security, employment, and environmental impact in South Africa and across Africa, according to a report by the SADC–EU Economic Partnership Agreement. Fish is one of the most traded commodities in the world, with developing countries accounting for more than half of all trade. Furthermore, marine ecosystems, such as the kelp forests found off the coast of the Western Cape, sequester up to 20 times more CO2 per acre than land forests, making them critical in the fight against climate change.
The first of Vodacom SA’s partner projects is well underway, and Vodacom will continue to invest in providing technological support. This project entails the creation and expansion of novel technologies, digital decision-making tools, and platforms aimed at driving change in the seafood value chain. These tools will be distributed through the Vodacom network, including through the existing Vodacom Foundation schools’ network, beginning with coastal schools, with the goal of raising awareness among youth and shifting behavior among young influencers, consumers, and role models to create a generation well-versed in ocean literacy and sustainable seafood. This project has already piqued the interest of people all over the world by demonstrating how technology can be used to promote environmental education and awareness.
“For the WWF, success means creating meaningful ways in which people and communities can help conserve the world’s biological diversity,” says Pavs Pillay, WWF South Africa Behaviour Change Lead and WWF-SASSI Manager. “The oceans surrounding our country are extremely rich and hold the power to benefit sectors across the board. However, finding ways to leverage this potential sustainably is complex and requires a multi-pronged collaborative approach. Partnerships such as this are a shining example of how technology can be used to make a difference.”