Training a global network of organisations and coaches delivering transformational ocean experiences to foster marine conservation: Oceans For All Alliance.

The first project we sponsored in 2021 was with I AM WATER Ocean Conservation, based in South Africa. I AM WATER believes in marine conservation through transformational ocean experiences, and the ethos ‘you protect what you love’. Their mission is to foster physical and emotional connections to marine environments. They especially focus on low-income coastal communities where, despite living within walking distance of the shoreline, young people have never seen the world just beneath the waves. They work to build young people’s understanding of the interdependence between humans and healthy oceans, and encourage them to protect the ocean.

I AM WATER fosters a connection to the ocean through education, awareness, and advocacy, with a focus on innovative ocean snorkel workshops. Thanks to these programs, young people can often overcome deeply embedded cultural fears of the ocean and are more likely to appreciate the ocean as a place that needs to be protected. Young people that complete I AM WATER programs, known as Ocean Guardians, also increase their knowledge of marine biodiversity, become familiar with challenges facing our ocean and the daily skills needed to protect it. To date, I AM WATER have trained over 6,000 Ocean Guardians, and over 120 young people to deliver youth-friendly environmental education programs.

As part of our project I AM WATER has launched a new international initiative called the Oceans For All Alliance (OFAA). The goal of the OFAA is to establish a global network of organisations working towards conservation and emotional health in low resourced coastal communities. I AM WATER has started to train like-minded organisations on their ethos, environmental educational content, child protection policy, methodology and operations. They use their flagship Ocean Guardians Workshop as a model to formulate the training program. The Oceans For All Alliance envisions a consistently high standard for their affiliated partners to create a global community of Ocean Guardians. The objective is to support these member organisations not only in training but also in equipment sourcing, monitoring and evaluation, and access to funding.

The first OFAA training took place at the group’s headquarters in Cape Town in April 2022 and has enabled the receiving organisation, WILDOCEANS, to host their own safe, fun, educational and transformational ocean experiences. OFAA’s group of coaches become positive role models for their local community. They support young people in having safe and positive ocean experiences, completing a challenging task and feeling a sense of accomplishment.

This alliance will allow I AM WATER to share their knowledge from over a decade of working in the field. Open sourcing all they have learned facilitates the growth of many new organisations and of I AM WATER itself.