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16 Nov 2022

Call to Earth Day: A focus on ocean conservation

(South Coast Sun) Picture: Mnqobi Zuma. Sam Hofmyer, Shannon Lee Sanilall and Sabriyah Madhi.

This past week, CNN used its platform to shine a light on the environmental emergencies facing the planet, as Call to Earth Day was commemorated on November 3. Call to Earth is a CNN initiative dedicated to conservation, environmentalism and sustainability. Across TV, their website and social media, they tell stories about our incredible planet and the remarkable people who are protecting it.

In South Africa, Wildtrust, the Marine Protected Areas Organisation and the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town stepped up to support the initiative. This year’s theme was ‘Turning The Tides’ and focused on educating individuals and children about protecting the oceans as well as marine conservation. Stories, live programming and interviews on this theme, gathered from across Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and both North and South America, ran for every hour of CNN’s international programming.

South Africa was well represented in CNN’s coverage as CNN’s senior international correspondent, David McKenzie, reporting live on many of CNN’s shows, met and interviewed representatives from Sentinel Ocean Alliance on the importance of reconnecting people with the ocean regardless of their economic circumstances. Sentinel Ocean Alliance is an organisation that creates ocean-based opportunities and provides environmental education for the youth of South Africa’s coastal communities.

The South African organisations supported the message by organising beach clean-ups and other activities to educate their audiences about the importance of preserving the ocean.

Lauren van Nijkerk, director of campaigns at Wildtrust said, “Marine Protected Areas (MPA) help give the ocean a fighting chance against the impacts of climate change and overfishing, to name a few. If we look after our ocean, it can continue looking after us and giving us everything we take – we need to protect the ocean that our future generations will inherit.”

Dr Judy Mann, executive of strategic projects at the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation, said, “For many years, the ocean has been forgotten in discussions about the Earth. Surprising when you consider that over 70% of our planet is covered in ocean.”

Mann added that when they launched Africa’s first Marine Protected Areas Day in 2021, they were aware that very few people knew what an MPA was. “Through our campaign, we were able to build support for MPAs amongst a wide audience. Partnering with CNN’s Call to Earth Day is a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness of the ocean, and of Marine Protected Areas and their role in supporting people and ocean health,” said Mann.

Helen Lockhart, the communications and sustainability manager at Two Oceans Aquarium, shared their support by saying, “We work on behalf of the ocean. We are a voice for the ocean, showcasing its beauty and fragility, and highlighting the harm we as humans are causing. Every single one of us must heed the call from the Earth to make changes in our daily lives to protect our home.”

CNN also featured a 30-minute special documentary on leading oceanographer, explorer, author, and oceans advocate, Sylvia Earle. The world-renowned marine biologist took CNN’s audiences inside her conservation work on Florida’s increasingly fragile coast.

This year’s event was built on the success of the inaugural Call to Earth Day. Last year, CNN connected with thousands of environmental organisations around the world, including over 500 schools, to raise awareness, educate students and inspire actions that create real impact.