According to Vodacom, this project aligns with its commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by using digital innovation (SDG 9) to address sustainable patterns of consumption and production (SDG 12). 

This is to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for the benefit of future generations (SDG 14). According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), more than a billion people around the world rely on seafood as their main source of protein; more than 300 million are directly or indirectly employed by the fisheries sector.

"Due to overfishing, illegal and unregulated fisheries, [as well as] the impact of climate change and pollution, our oceans are in peril with many species completely depleted," says Takalani Netshitenzhe, chief officer for external affairs at Vodacom South Africa.

"It is clear that large-scale environmental and socio-economic interventions are needed to mitigate the effects of climate change and overfishing. However, these interventions will only be effective if individual behaviours begin to shift," adds Netshitenzhe.

"For instance, a key part of the partnership will be the expansion of the WWF-South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative's (WWF-SASSI) network of young influencers and role models, who are committed to acting as ambassadors and advocating for the oceans," says Netshitenzhe.

Critical to the WWF partnership is leveraging the power of technology to enhance awareness and ocean literacy, while encouraging pro-environmental decision-making and action.

To this end, Vodacom will use its technological capabilities to digitalise educational resources and launch a fish identification application for learners and in training WWF-South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative's (WWF-SASSI) chefs. The project aims to build a critical mass of informed seafood consumers who will increase demand for sustainable seafood and help safeguard our oceans.

"We are committed to providing innovative technologies and digital solutions to assist with this and also believe that partnerships are critical in helping save the environment," adds Netshitenzhe.

The WWF-SASSI is a flagship ocean conservation programme that has been running for 16 years with support from a range of different partners. The programme is based on behaviour change solutions to encourage consumers to make more informed and sustainable decisions when choosing their seafood.

In addition, the project aims to build more resilient oceans and improve conservation through:
  • the gamification of the WWF-SASSI educational resources
  • the launch of an app that assists learners and in-training chefs identify sustainable sources of seafood
  • the conversion of the WWF-SASSI and the Responsible Fisheries Alliance training courses into engaging e-learning resources, and
  • the provision of devices and data to enhance communication between WWF-SASSI chefs, volunteers and ambassadors.
"The WWF mission is achieved by creating meaningful ways in which people and communities will conserve the world's biological diversity, ensure the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable and promote the reduction of pollution, responsible practices and sustainable consumption of natural resources," says Pavs Pillay, behaviour change lead and WWF-SASSI manager.

"These ecological, social and economic challenges are complex. Transformational change requires collaboration and multi-pronged interventions. Hence, partnerships with corporates such as Vodacom play such a key role in safeguarding our planets' resources above and below the oceans, for now and into the future," concludes Pillay.

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