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MARECO Project: Increasing the awareness of children for the sustainable use of coral reefs and their resources in the SW Indian Ocean
by Institute of Research for Sustainable Development (IRD) & Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA) (Partnership)
Coral reef ecosystems are facing major threats due to a variety of anthropogenic and natural factors such as climate change, pollution, overfishing, destructive fishing practices and coastal development. Raising children's awareness of coral reef issues and increasing their knowledge allow a more sustainable use of these ecosystems.

The Coral Reef Teaching Toolbox MARECO has been developed through a scientific program (2014-2017) with a goal to disseminate and communicate results of research conducted on coral reefs. The main objective is to use children, as agents of change, in raising awareness on coastal and marine environments using coral reefs as flagship ecosystem. Conducted in SW Indian Ocean (Madagascar, Reunion, Mayotte and Tanzania), the project assessed the impact of the use of the toolbox on the perception of children through drawings.

MARECO allows discovery by children, targeting ages 5-11, of coral reef biodiversity, threats to reefs, and management options, through three modules (a card game, a picture book, a board game). The kit also includes a teacher's handbook with fully-fledged teaching aids in two parts. The first part gives a range of requisite scientific knowledge, in the form of a factsheet collection. The second part offers pathways avenues for learning activities using each of the three tools. The suggestions can be used flexibly and creatively by teachers for classroom activities, but also experiments, research projects and outings. The results obtained are very encouraging as regards the contribution of MARECO to raising the awareness of the children on coral reefs, and of how to reduce pressures.

The key knowledge and concepts, which MARECO aims at transmitting, are:
1) The biodiversity of the coral ecosystem (game 1: the card game " Coral Reef Happy Families");
2) The identity, role and interactions of the living organisms of the coral reef and their vulnerability facing natural and human-induced disturbances (game 2: the picture book "The Colours of the Reef");
3) The services to humans generated by the biodiversity of the coral ecosystem, the place of humans within the coral ecosystem, and the necessity of cooperation between stakeholders to ensure the survival of the coral reef (game 3: the board game "See you at the Coral Reef").

The Partnership seeks to enhance international, regional, and national collaborations for increasing awareness of young people for the sustainable use of coral reefs and access to education particularly for girls to achieve gender equality. WIOMSA is well established as the lead regional association in all aspects of coastal and marine sciences and management, and to support sustainable development in the Western Indian Ocean Region (WIO). Associated with IRD, an internationally recognised multidisciplinary organisation working primarily in partnership with Southern countries, they will lead the work in collaboration with the other partners well established in the WIO region. This cooperative project will be carried out through official meetings at national and regional levels, but also by research programs involving IRD or WIOMSA in one of the countries targeted by this project. This educational network will also help connecting young generations beyond their borders using the Internet network.
Progress reports
By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans
Type of commitment
  • Community or Locally Managed Marine Areas
By 2030, increase the economic benefits to Small Island developing States and least developed countries from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism
Type of commitment
Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, taking into account the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular small island developing States and least developed countries
Type of commitment
  • Training and professional development
  • Scientific cooperation
January 2018
1. Publication of 500 toolboxes (submitted conditioned by obtaining finance)
January 2022
3. Identification of schools and disseminate the toolbox in other partner countries - 4 to 8 countries - depending on the number of published toolboxes
July 2018
2. Identification of communities and schools and dissemination of the toolbox in one country
Other, please specify
Financial public supports from the EU, France and Region Reunion that helped for the visibility of MARECO toolbox in SW Indian Ocean region (2014-2016)
In-kind contribution
In kind contribution of expertise by all member organizations ($16,000/yr for IRD), $10,000 for WIOMSA
Staff / Technical expertise
Research funding for editing the Teaching Toolbox MARECO and a prospecting and maturation agent of the MARECO toolbox
Basic information
Time-frame: June 2017 - June 2022
Institute of Research for Sustainable Development - IRD (Academic Institution & Government) Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association - WIOMSA (Civil Society Organization) Centre National de Données Océanographiques des Comores - CNDR (Government) Coastal Oceans Research and Development in the Indian Ocean - CORDIO East Africa (Scientific community) Commission Océan Indien - COI (Government) Embassy of France in Mozambique and Swaziland (Government) Bel Avenir (Civil Society Organization) Institut Halieutiques et des Sciences Marines - IHSM, Madagscar (Academic Institution & Government) Nature Seychelles (Civil Society Organization) Parc Naturel Marin de Mayotte (Government) Rectorat Reunion (Government) Reserve Naturelle Marine de La Reunion - RNMR (Government) Sciences Reunion (Civil Society Organization) UMAMA (Civil Society Organization) Wildlands Conservation Trust (Civil Society Organization) Equipe Cousteau (Civil Society Organization) Bioviva (private sector)
Ocean Basins
  • Indian Ocean
Beneficiary countries
South Africa
Other beneficaries
Schoolchildren, teachers, local communities
Contact information
Pascale Chabanet, Research Director and Representative IRD at La Reunion, pascale.chabanet@ird.fr, (+262)692828308
Marseille - France
Other SDGs
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