Introducing Barkha Mossae
As an islander, I believe I have always subconsciously known how beautiful the sea is. However it was only after my first scuba diving experience that I became fully aware of it, and just how damaged it had become. It is filled with life but needs to be very carefully managed.
I have always been very interested in environmental sustainability. I realised that as a Mauritian I had the asset of the sea right there on my doorstep, but I, like so many others, took it for granted. I think this attitude is quite common among a lot of people who are blessed to live near the sea; as an indicator, just how many of us don’t know how to swim?
Through the Port Louis Hub of the Global Shapers Community and alongside Karuna Rana, another Queen’s Young Leader from Mauritius, I helped to set up #SeeingBlue, an initiative that encourages young people to take a greater interest in the state of the oceans. It kicked off with a competition that got youth to reflect on our impact on the ocean and the ocean’s impact on us. #SeeingBlue has also been a means to bring multi-sector stakeholders together to have ocean related discussions. The response was overwhelming and I hope to run it again soon.
I think young people are much more likely to be aware of the critical importance of the ocean, as there is now an abundance of information which they can access. I also believe our generation is purpose-driven. Also, the ocean is an exciting new area of development, and I am sure there will be a growing interest for innovative and sustainable jobs and start-ups related to the ocean.
The Commonwealth is getting younger. More than 60% of its population is under the age of 30, not to mention that out of the 54 countries in the Commonwealth, 32 are Small Island Developing States (SIDS). So there is vast potential for young people to get involved in caring for our oceans. I think the difficulty is that the sea is something which is quite abstract for some people to conceptualise. The ocean is just somewhere they go on holiday. But it is vital that people understand the sheer amount of ecosystem services which the ocean provides. To be able to have a meaningful relationship with the ocean, it’s important for all of us to learn about things like where our food comes from and, crucially, where our waste goes.
One of the most exciting things about the Queen’s Young Leaders programme has been the training modules on leadership. The award has also given me access to a whole network of young leaders across the Commonwealth. This makes me convinced that we can use the Commonwealth as a platform for young people to campaign about issues affecting our oceans.