South African students among the new cohort of All-Atlantic Youth Ambassadors

Thando MazombaandMarrisav1

Two South African students will participate in the All-Atlantic Youth Ambassadors Programme, which seeks to enable young people to become actors of change in their communities by promoting the sustainable development of the Atlantic Ocean.

Thando Mazomba and Marissa Brink are among 24 young people from Atlantic Ocean communities who were chosen to make up the second cohort of All‑Atlantic Youth Ambassadors. The new group was announced on Friday, 4 December during the 3rd All-Atlantic Ocean Research Forum, which was co-hosted virtually by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI).

In a video message, Mazomba, an MSc student at the University of Cape Town (UCT), told the Forum that her vision for the oceans was to "shine a light on the intersectionalities that exist in the marine conservation space".

Mazomba's research project aims to assess Southern Ocean climate model results in the last century, using historical commercial humpback whale catch data. She is a recipient of the prestigious Vice-Chancellor's award for Ocean Womxn, and more recently was chosen to represent UCT on an expedition to the Antarctic. She also plays an active role in a documentary that discusses the impact of plastic pollution within the surfboard industry.

Brink recently completed her doctoral studies in the Department of Genetics at Stellenbosch University. She has joined a UCT/Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries research team to work on an EU-funded project, "All-Atlantic Ocean sustainable, profitable and resilient aquaculture", as a postdoctoral research fellow.

Speaking in a video message to the Forum, Brink said her vision for the oceans was "to develop and implement sustainable practices to preserve our natural resources".

Her research project aims to develop and validate the integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) model in a land-based pump ashore system, thereby contributing to zero-waste aquaculture practices. She has previously been involved in organising shoreline clean-ups.

The All-Atlantic Youth Ambassadors Programme was launched in August 2019 by the co-chairs of the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation and the Belém Statement on Atlantic Ocean Research and Innovation Cooperation.

The first cohort of youth ambassadors were challenged to drive change in their own communities, an effort that is delivering inspiring results focused on "sharing, connecting and acting". Ten ambassadors from the first cohort have agreed to mentor the new group.

Following the success of the first Summer School in August 2019, Mariya Gabriel, the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, launched the All-Atlantic Ocean Youth Forum in Brussels in February 2020. The Youth Forum aims to empower early-career ocean youth in the larger All-Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance.

The idea is to equip a broader community of early-career ocean professionals with the skills, education and training to enable them to drive movements of positive change and sustainable development along and across the Atlantic Ocean.

As part of providing education and training pathways for career development, the Youth Forum seeks to promote young people's competencies and skills by integrating science and citizen engagement. The Youth Ambassadors Programme is the cornerstone of this larger effort.

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