COVID 19 EMERGENCY - Supporting a Pilot Project Dedicated to the Creation of a Ligurian Ecosystem after the Pandemic and on the Occasion of the Decade Of Sea Sciences For Sustainable Development

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Project location: Italy, Liguria
Project start date: September 2020 - Project end date: December 2020
Project number: 2020-039
Beneficiary: Worldrise Onlus

Liguria is a small region with a large naturalistic value and a stretched and biodiverse coastline. Its waters host three Marine Protected Areas (MPAs); Cinque terre MPA, Portofino MPA and Bergeggi Island MPA; and number of Natural Reserves among which Gallinara Island Regional Reserve, Capo Mortola Park and Porto Venere Park. The entire region is at the heart of the Pelagos Sanctuary (A.S.P.I.M), a triangol of Mediterranean sea dedicated to the protection of the 8 species of marine mammals living the Mare Nostrum waters. But the Ligurian sea waters are not bioviderse only at great depths, the whole long coastline hosts a variety of endemic species to the Mediterranean, among which structurally important gorgonian and algae forests and seagrass beds. These forests and bed offer a habitat for numerous organisms, making them biodiversity hotspots. However, the structural importance of these organisms and the relative ecosystems they support are threatened by climate change, overfishing and pollution, making conservation measures, research and outreach mandatory to safeguard the future of Ligurian biodiversity. Alongside the great natural value of Ligurian coastline, the culture of Liguria is closely related to the sea, in particular the profession of one of the oldest jobs: artisanal fishermen. Many peculiar fishing techniques got developed in Ligurian waters, but are yet getting forgotten in favour of the rise of commercial fishing and trading of common fish species. The beautiful rocky coastline, the biodiverse seascapes and the enlivening culture make Liguria a hotspot for national and international tourism, with more than 15 million tourists visiting the region every year (data from the tourist observation board from 2019), among which many divers and sea enthusiasts. But the growing interests in this region from tourists has to go along with measures to conserve the authenticity and biodiversity of the region, to give value to its endemicities. In particular, the touristic industry should be informed and inform for the most responsible and sustainable practices, rediscovering the natural resources and realities of Liguria in a slow way, instead of promoting seasonal, fast and mass tourism.

The purpose of the Ocean Generation initiative is to start the construction of an Italian network for Ocean Literacy, with the aim of spreading the culture of the Ocean in our country - surrounded by the sea and historically, culturally, economically linked to the sea - starting from the education system and civil associations. The purpose of Ocean Literacy is not only to promote the inclusion of marine sciences in school curricula, but also to increase awareness of the goods and services that the sea provides. The campaign aims to spread awareness of the social, economic and cultural importance of the services related to the sea and the sea itself to all Italian stakeholders, including decision makers, individual citizens and representatives of the private sector. An individual who has greater knowledge of the sea will have the tools to: understand the importance of the sea for humanity; effectively communicate to others the importance of the sea and its value; make responsible decisions regarding the sea and its resources.

These past few months post-pandemic brought a growing need to conceive everyday life in a more responsible and sustainable way.
The lockdown period gave us more awareness about the importance of nature and our connection with what lies around us: us as humans we are part of a large and inter-connected system, and it’s our duty to do our part in maintaining this fragile equilibrium.
Worldrise, as a not for profit organization committed to protect the marine environment, plays an important role in raising awareness among citizens about environmental problems, but also in giving the possibility to make the difference with our daily actions.

During the lockdown period, Worldrise has promoted a social media campaign called #sustainablequarantine, in which Worldrise team has given some suggestions about a sustainable and enjoyable routine: paint with homemade watercolors, practice yoga everyday, watch a documentary, a movie or read a book about sea, cook with kitchen scraps.
During this period Worldrise also continued to raise awareness on important themes such  as sustainable fishery, developing a serie of ten curiosities about it, and sharing them through Facebook and Instagram, with a video explanation.
For the post-COVID period at the beginning of May, Worldrise has developed a serie of documents downloadable from Worldrise website:
-a report and personal view about the health emergency and other environmental emergencies;
-a serise of suggestions for a more sustainable routine and on how to search responsibly and accurately for valid news in a period during which people were overwhelmed with information from different sources;
- a post-COVID manifesto in which Worldrise values and role during this difficult period were underlined.
In addition, Worldrise created a PoSEAtive vibes spotify playlist to give a positive note to post-COVID recovery, to underline how art and music play an important role in our life and functional in every communication. 
A new social media campaign started in May : #Iocambio (I change)-how to really make the difference in my daily life for the future of the Ocean.
During this campaign, that it’s still undergoing, Worldrise developed social contents with suggestions to restart our routines in a more conscious and sustainable way. Worldrise developed instagram posts with Worldrise and external experts on different themes such as water saving, sustainable fashion and the problem about the single use disposable increase, both sanitary and takeaway foods and drinks.
In order to maintain the collaboration with volunteers, despite the lack of social events,  Worldrise has developed a Volounteers digital  kit, a guide to illustrate Worldrise structure and work, also explaining in a simple way the main threats to the Ocean: sea temperature rise, acidification, deoxygenation, loss of biodiversity, pollution and overfishing.
Worldrise also developed new educational contents for primary and secondary schools, to propose new activities in addition to #Batti5, the awareness project on marine plastic pollution. The contents were developed both as digital lesson and interactive lesson, to give an alternative in case of problems with school closures, filling the void of lack of educational contents during the lockdown.

Finally, Worldrise last news is SEAty : the magazine that bring the sea to the city. SEAty is a magazine about marine life and curiosities, sustainable routine with different useful suggestions.

Throughout its work, Worldrise believes that these positive changes could become habits, and make an important difference to the future of our Ocean.  

Worldrise's priority during covid-19 was, as always, communication and education. All its staff remained  operational, redesigning some tools for remote use, inviting people to use their free time to learn, get informed, learn and improve their daily sustainability. Many projects had to stop, educational projects in schools and traineeships - including all programming of summer activities such as beach cleaning, corporate events and impact days, but hopefully from this phase of planning and searching for new partnerships new projects will arise.

This project, which received a grant from the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation,  consists of 4 areas and related activities, plus participation in the launch of the decade of sea sciences for sustainable development.

1.Sustainable fishing and fish consumption
The project involves an initial phase of research on the territory, that would take advantage of the preexisting contacts of the association both in the world of the scientific research and the turistic operators with whom Worldrise had the pleasure to work with. 

1a. The section of the project that concerns the awareness about the sustainable fishery involves a first phase of scientific research and the creation of contents about the fishing in Liguria and its traditional fishing techniques. That will be possible thanks to the collaboration with the cooperatives of local fishermen and the support of the researchers of the University of Genoa. The research aims to create seasonal guidelines to raise the awareness of the local restaurant owners about the fishes to offer to their customers, promoting the local fishes and enhancing the choice of the species known as “poor” or “forgotten”, while respecting the biological cycle of the species and informing about the main issues with the overexploiting of the sea.
1b. The second phase concerns the search for contacts with the restaurants  in the territory to propose them to join the project, with the premise to follow the guidelines suggested and raise the awareness of their customers. Through their work, the restaurant owners will be the spokesperson of the values of the project of Worldrise, telling their customers which are their choices through their culinary offer and the ad hoc informativa material.
1c. The third phase concerns a social communication campaign that will take advantage the informative material previously made to reach as many people as possible, covering different targets as well. The dedicated material will be shared in a easily comprehensible  and accessible way, in order to raise awareness among a large audience on the issues around fishing and the solutions to reduce their impact of marine ecosystems, thus making more responsible choices regarding fish consumption. The contents will be graphical materials on the Facebook and Instagram pages of Worldrise, which will be further presented by experts in video stories on Instagram. Aiming to share a minimum of 5 posts with related stories the aim is to reach around 13.500 times the content in its declinations.  Moreover 1 monthly educational article about the themes of the project will be published in the online magazine of Worldrise, which will be launched in September in a more interactive version. The main dissemination channel will be linkedin and sectorial websites. 

2. Informed Dolphin watching

2a. The section of the project relative to dolphin watching entails a first phase of researching for the principals coastal touristic operators of Liguria: diving, boat rentals with and without skipper and ship charters, which will bring to the creation of the database. 
2b. The realities presents on the database will be contacted via mail and informed on the possibility to adhere to the network to receive materials and support on sustainable dolphin watching in the area. Though the realisation of the animated video, the guidelines on the behavior to have when encountering dolphins will be shared, proposing the sharing of the video on the realities’ social media personal pages. The video will aim to inform people on the corrents behaviors to have when encountering wild dolphins while at sea. 
2c. The third phase will entail a social media campaign in which the video will be shared and associated to instagram live feeds to broadcast local associations working in marine mammals conservation and adhering touristic operators. In September, the new Worldrise website will be launched and an online magazine will collect articles on the activities and themes the association in working on. These contents will be the starting point for the creation of graphical posts which will introduce the live feed on facebook and instagram. Adding social activities previous to the live feed should be getting around 2000 visualisation per live feed + post. The live feeds will also be uploaded as posts, which should gain around 2000 visualisations between facebook and instagram. This data will be added to the engagement on the website which cannot be calculated at the moment because of the website maintenance.  

3. Marine Protected Areas and biodiversity conservation

The project aims to become a platform to share the importance of MPAs on the Ligurian territory, creating a network of tourist operators, using the contacts and knowledge gained throughout our projects in the area.

3a. The first part of the project will involve developing educational and outreach material for diving centers and tourists. Worlrise aims to involve a total of 5 initial dive clubs and a total of 100 tourists via questionnaires. The material produced will support diving clubs into delivering to divers and tourists knowledge around the endemic species inhabiting the waters of Liguria and the importance of their conservation and of MPAs.  
3b. The second part of the project will research the possibility to create a network of touristic operators working in the MPAs and along the nearby coastal areas. The network will be used to share information, materials and to promote the sustainable use and  rediscovery of local marine resources among the involved dive clubs, the tourists who filled in the questionnaire and 5 more touristic info-points.

4. Slow and responsible tourism
The aim of the above stated outreach activities is to promote a slow, responsible and sustainable coastal tourism in Liguria, to support the marine peculiarities and biodiversity of this region. A press and social campaign dedicated to the importance of MPAs will be carried out to mitigate the loss of biodiversity and support the development of a local and sustainable economy. The campaign will entail the promotion of a video on Ligurian MPAs which was filmed last year with the support of Ocean Family Foundation. In addition a blog a day will be posted on Worldrise’s blog to promote the biodiversity and MPAs of the Ligurian Sea, and a campaign suggesting some guidelines to be a ‘sustainable tourists’ will be created in collaboration with Kiwi The Explorer and Trip in Your Shoes, building onto the social campaign #iocambio and using the large social media audience of our partners. Questionnaires will also be carried out to understand the importance of the Ligurian coastline to tourists and local stakeholders. The accounts of Kiwi The Explorer and Trip in Your Shoes count more than 50 million followers. The wide audience will be reached with shareable and accessible contents. By calculating an engagement rate of 5%, Worldrise aims to reach around 5000 per post. 

5. Ocean Generation 
The #Ocean Generation initiative will be structured as follows: social campaign to create engagement on the themes of the decade; Oceathon -  Hackathon in collaboration with Italian universities to find concrete solutions to the problems of the marine environment organized in collaboration with the Euro-Mediterranean Center for Climate Change; outreach event on 22th - presentation of the themes of the decade and the commitment of the various stakeholders of the Ocean Generation in carrying out initiatives related to sustainable development and conservation of the marine environment.


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