PORT Elizabeth and the Eastern Cape are leading the way in an historic new initiative to promote sustainable use of our coasts and oceans, and thereby to combat climate change. The Sea Pledge Crusade team launched last week (on Wednesday Oct 12 2011) at Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber, and rolled out immediately thereafter to take their message to 25 coastal towns.
The aim is that this roadshow with a difference will culminate in a spectacular event in the middle of Cop17, the international climate change negotiations in Durban, team leader Dr Tony Ribbink said.
“We’re taking this thing by the scruff of the neck and aim to show how PE and the Eastern Cape can solve the problems of Africa and the world by people coming together in a huge positive crusade to change the future.”
The Sea Pledge message is premised on the fact that the oceans produce more oxygen and absorb more carbon dioxide than even the forests, and are home to the richest diversity of species on the globe, he explained.
“It is the oceans too that drive climate and weather patterns, cause the floods and droughts.”
The Sea Pledge is aimed at alerting people about climate change and Cop17, at getting signatories for a petition which will be presented to the UN, and at obtaining commitments from a wide range of coastal users to reduce their impact on this key part of our world.
It will also be used to collect voluntary donations, which will be used to build Sustainable Education and Skills’ Centres. These centres will create opportunities for indigent coastal communities to move away from their present unsustainable harvest of marine resources, which is wrecking eco-systems, driving species into extinction and increasing poverty, he said.
The pledge mission is a project of the NGO Sustainable Seas’ Trust, of which Ribbink, a senior South African marine biologist based at Rhodes University, is director.
The plan is that the pledge will be launched on December 3 at the Cop talks, he said.
“At a signal, thousands of people will exchange pledges: yachts will sail to meet others, divers will exchange pledges underwater, surfers will do the same in the surf and also aim at breaking records and putting on a stunning show.
“Kite boarders will exchange pledges in the air above the sea, swimmers in huge numbers will also pledge support as will beach walkers, anglers, shipping companies, coastal municipalities, environmental agencies, hotels, restaurants, fish markets and many more.”
To make a Sea Pledge, go to http://www.sst.org.za/pledges