Marika Guidici, an environmental anthropologist from Italy explains how SDG14 and 13 can only be achieved if the voices of the people in the community are listened to.
Surrounded by gorgeous coral reef and each only a few kilometres large are one hundred islands in the Makassar Strait, south-west Sulawesi, Indonesia. The inhabitants of this archipelago survive on the success of small-scale fishery as a source of food and their livelihood. They heavily rely on the ocean. Fish is their source of income; it is what they eat and sell to guarantee their survival. Threatening their very livelihood are marine pollution, climate change, blast and overfishing and thereby endangering their economy, homes and future.
"They sell objects in plastic and then forbid us to burn them" told me a fisherman on Barrang Lompo island, one of the nearest islands to the cost "once everything was made with wood and it did not stay in here, but today it is different and the government left us alone to face this problem: plastic is everywhere" (Anonymous, Pulau Barrang Lompo, 3/02/2017).
The Government of Indonesia introduced a ban on buying and burning waste, plastic bottles and similar objects but this has led to all these items littering the beaches, floating between the waves and sinking to the reef. The local population seek a top-down solution to solve an urgent problem which they do not think they are able to solve alone.
Moreover, this situation is worsened by other realities of the competition on global market, the recent overpopulation of the archipelago and the effects of climate change on the marine ecosystem. This area is one where overfishing, or the use of bombs and cyanide to kill fish are used so that they have enough to sell to ensure their survival. The local fishermen prefer to sell abroad as this means a more generous income compared to profits from the local market.
But, not too far away, blast fishing has ended and all due to an innovative idea: eco-friendly market. In Wakatobi, South-east Sulawesi, local fishermen previously caught fish using bombs and poison, but recently customers from Singapore and Hong Kong are asking for fish not killed by poison or bombs but rather caught using natural methods. Because of that, local fishermen in Wakatobi started using eco-friendly fishing techniques. Now, they use lines and the clients pay more for the fish caught with lines than with poison or bombs. It's a win-win: for fishermen, clients and the ocean. The intermediaries, that buy the fish from the fishermen and sell it abroad, have become expert in distinguishing good fish and poisoned ones, and being honest is the only way to earn a lot of money. You can earn even millions of rupiah using sustainable methods. A global request for fish caught through sustainable methods could help in defeating destructive fishing, sustainably using the marine resources, guarantying jobs, protecting local economy and livelihood.
Ecotourism is another way that may help in preserving the reef and reducing marine pollution, as the beauty of the reef and the cleanliness of the islands will bring more tourists and develop a new (green) source of income. People on the island to whom I talked to were enthusiastic about the idea of having tourists come from all over the world to enjoy the colours of their reef and their way of living.
Combating climate change and conserving the ocean are all goals that can be achieved at the same time by listening to local people and taking their needs into account. Both ecotourism and eco-friendly market can connect local issues to global ones, to face large concerns in a small place per time, developing a network of efficient strategies and green solutions.
They are both paths to reach goal number 13, which aims to stop climate change, and goal number 14, that wants to help our ocean.