Bangor graduates make a difference on World Challenge project

Two Bangor graduates are working on an environmental project in Madagascar, shortlisted for the World Challenge, a global competition aimed at finding projects or small businesses from around the world that have shown enterprise and innovation at a grassroots level. Sean Clement in MadagascarSean Clement in Madagascar

Sean Clement graduated in Marine Biology/Oceanography at the University’s world renowned School of Ocean Sciences, and Jennifer Craighill in Zoology with Marine Zoology at the University’s highly respected School of Biological Sciences in the same year (2007). Both are now employed as the two field scientists working on a project in Madagascar for Blue Ventures.

Blue Ventures' ‘One reef at a Time’ project works with local communities fringing Madagascar coral reefs, enabling them to make sustainable livelihoods a reality.

“As a social enterprise we are driven by our mission to create new and sustainable approaches to financing and implementing conservation initiatives,” said Gildas Andriamalala, Blue Ventures' outreach officer in southern Madagascar. “These initiatives give local people a chance to determine their own future, and our work is helping coastal communities in some of the country’s most deprived areas deal with the challenges of dwindling marine resources.”

The role of the field scientists is to train enthusiastic volunteers in marine research techniques, guide and direct research and monitoring on site and communicate the results through reports, publications and presentations to the community and scientific community.

Sean Clement said: "Blue Ventures is unique in placing the needs of economically deprived communities as the driving force for the conservation of the reefs of southwest Madagascar. Working in such a remote location with fishermen and women who not only understand the importance of creating a sustainable fishery in the region but actively work towards it, often at no small material sacrifice for themselves, has been an incredible experience for me and I have great hope for the future of the coral reefs of Madagascar and that of those men and women who depend on them"Jennifer CraighillJennifer Craighill

Professor Colin Jago, Head of the College of Natural Sciences at Bangor University said: “The great environmental challenge of our time is how to promote an improved quality of life for people while maintaining environmental sustainability. This is especially critical in coastal environments that are under increasing pressure due to human activity and climate change.  Our graduates have the scientific knowledge and communication skills to make a real difference in the field and this is a great example of how they can put these to practical use. I wish them every success with this Challenge and their future careers.”

The judges selected the finalists from over 800 nominations, recognising Blue Ventures’ work in Madagascar as a powerful demonstration that social enterprise can be an effective engine for developing sustainable conservation initiatives.

Vote for your favourite project before 12 November 2010 at:

http://www.theworldchallenge.co.uk/vote_2010.php

The winner of World Challenge 2010 will be announced at a ceremony in The Hague on December 4, and will receive a US$20,000 grant from Shell to invest in their work. Two runners-up will each receive US$10,000.

 

Publication date: 9 November 2010