Best Practices in Developing Regions (Part I)

At their March meeting, the OBPS Steering Group was treated to a trio of presentations by leaders in best practices in developing regions:

  • Tommy Bornman (South African Environmental Observation Network) spoke about OBPS in Africa and how best practices are created by the community for the community. He used a series of maps showing the locations of various ocean observing infrastructure and coastal activities which at first glance seems to show relatively limited capabilities around Africa, but ultimately revealed growth, expertise, and will.
  • Ana Carolina de Azevedo Mazzuco (OBIS Brazil) discussed perspectives and challenges of using ocean best practices in Brazil. She emphasised the long coastline and vast marine estate of Brazil which presents unique challenges, including varying needs and resources among different regions. She described successful programs including the Pesquisas Ecologicas de Longa Duracao (long-term ecological research program) which is the main source of ocean best practices in the region.
  • Jerome Aucan (Pacific Community) spoke about issues in the Pacific region, including similar challenges faced by Africa and Brazil but also additional challenges stemming from travel within the Pacific region (e.g. between islands). The Pacific islands’ small population makes it difficult to find skilled technicians, and regional collaboration is therefore essential.

There were a few common recommendations to increase the development and uptake of fit-for-purpose best practices in developing countries:

  • Plan actions using resources from the Ocean Best Practices System;
  • Simplify methods, including finding alternatives for expensive or otherwise prohibitive equipment and techniques;
  • Focus on the objectives;
  • Establish observing systems and BPs with a bottom-up approach (i.e. avoid parachute science)
  • Diversify funding.