The first training course focusing on co-design and co-delivery in the Ocean Decade establishes a milestone in the promotion of transdisciplinary, solutions-oriented ocean science.
The pilot edition of the Ocean Decade Co-Design Training Course for African Stakeholders, held online over six weeks in partnership with the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT), concluded in the last week of January and was a significant first accomplishment for the Ocean Decade in 2023.
The training was attended by over forty participants from 15 different African countries. It covered a variety of topics and steps to build participants skills in the effective co-design and co-delivery of science solutions in the Ocean Decade.
Fourteen lecturers from diverse regions and institutes contributed to the training course, providing valuable insights to drive lasting change, and build skills and techniques for effective leadership in co-design processes.
The training course drew inspiration from the Ocean Decade guidance and recommendations on co-design and the MeerWissen Initiative’s recent publication, Co-Design in collaborative marine research projects – a guidance with examples, which provides a comprehensive set of elements and objectives that are crucial for successful co-design. The course placed a strong emphasis on tangible methods and tools for co-design, such as joint vision setting and stakeholder engagement, project management and science communications to ensure the sustainability of projects.
During the course, six learning groups were created to support peer learning and collaboration, and the course had the ultimate goal of preparing participants to submit a proposal for endorsement by the Ocean Decade related to priority themes of the Ocean Decade Africa Roadmap on themes such as ocean pollution, ocean literacy, ocean digital tools and observing systems, climate change and coastal resilience, sustainable ocean economy, and biodiversity.
“Designing and implementing the first co-design training course under the Ocean Decade framework has been a valuable learning experience for us,” said Rebecca Lahl and Dr. Jialin Zhang, the trainers and organizers from ZMT. “As pioneers among co-design training programmes focused on Africa, this course provided us with important insights into integrating local context into training. We would like to see training courses on co-design to be regularly offered, supported by a pool of experts and tailored to different settings. We are also pleased to share our experiences gained from this course to help build capacities for the Ocean Decade.”
“The first co-design training course in the Ocean Decade focused on African and Adjacent Island States is a joint achievement and sets the tone of an innovative, creative and collaborative 2023,” said Vladimir Ryabinin, IOC/UNESCO Executive Secretary. “We would like to thank Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) for partnering with us, and bringing the co-design of transdisciplinary knowledge and sustainable research to a higher stage; giving visibility and creating space for new actors of change that are already co-delivering solutions to help address the Ocean Decade challenges.”
On the last day of the course, participants presented 10 co-design project ideas, covering varied topics in co-designed, transdisciplinary sustainable research. Most of the project ideas were developed over the course period, as a direct result of joint efforts by the participants. Several of the project proposals have been submitted to the Ocean Decade Call for Decade Actions No. 04/2022.
Participants in the course reflected on how their skills in co-design have increased as a result of their participation.
“My understanding of co-design is highly improved. I believe I’m more confident in addressing stakeholders and conflicts that could arise from it.” Dr. Mabel Anim, from Ghana
“I now fully understand the co-design concepts and am looking forward to putting them into practice.” Dr. Refilwe Mofokeng, from South Africa
All participants have joined the Ocean Decade Network to continue exchanging and contributing to the Ocean Decade global movement.
The next edition of the training will be announced soon on the Ocean Decade website and social media channels.