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Marine Spatial Planning research at Nelson Mandela University is continuing to make waves with new research including the impacts of the pandemic on coastal tourism.

Post-doctoral fellow with the South African Research Chair in Marine Spatial Planning (under Professor Amanda Lombard), Dr Estee Miltz (née Vermeulen) is currently researching the impacts of COVID-19 on coastal tourism to inform recovery strategies in Nelson Mandela Bay. She will present this research at the International System Dynamics Conference in Frankfurt, Germany, later this month.

Estee, who graduated with her PhD in Oceanography in December 2021, was the 2021 winner of the Global Challenges University Alliance Award 2030 with her PhD research entitled “Applying a Systems Analysis Approach to Support Integrated Ocean Management and Marine Spatial Planning in Algoa Bay, South Africa”, with Prof Lombard as promoter. She received the award during a general assembly meeting in Uppsala, Sweden earlier this year.

GCUA 2030 is a network of university partners from across the globe, representing different disciplines and with a key objective to equip the next generation of researchers, teachers and academic leaders with knowledge, tools and networks that will strengthen their capacity to work across disciplines and conduct translational research. Eligible candidates are PhD students or those who defended their thesis in the specific year at one of the GCUA 2030 member universities.

Dr Miltz won the 2021 award for her “high-quality research which applied a transdisciplinary, systems analysis approach to support marine spatial planning and provided a platform for stakeholders and decision makers to conduct scenario analyses and explore sustainable management interventions to achieve a balance in social-ecological objectives across marine sectors”.

The judges responded she had succeeded “to effectively communicate the results in a clear way and explain very well how her research contributes to SDG 14 - Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”.

She also presented her PhD research at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences’ (SLU) annual seminar and will participate in career training workshops with SLU. 

“I am passionate about my research and hope that it has a broad impact on the sustainable development of our blue economy”, says Estee.

Watch a summary of her presentation

*Ocean management

Ocean health provides the foundation for human health through the provision of ecosystem services. Increasing demands on ocean space and resources are, however, resulting in a decline in ocean health with direct and indirect knock-on effects on marine uses and ultimately on human health.

In response, there is a growing need to acknowledge and better manage complex human-ocean interactions. This has been recognised in global sustainable development goals and in integrated ocean management processes, leading to widespread endorsement of an ecosystem-based marine spatial planning (MSP) process, including in South Africa.

In support of the national marine spatial process, a systems analysis approach using system dynamics modelling was used to explore the temporal change in marine uses and associated user conflicts under alternative growth scenarios.

Algoa Bay, South Africa, was chosen as it is experiencing a rapid expansion of marine activities, coupled with a growing uncertainty regarding marine sustainability outcomes.

Current ocean governance practices are ineffective in sustaining the projected growth of the marine uses, particularly for uses that are vulnerable to negative feedback effects from changes in marine health. To alter these growth trajectories will require multiple, cross-sectoral management interventions.

Contact information
Ms Elma de Koker
Internal Communication Practitioner
Tel: 041-504 2160