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Campus Plein Sud 2013 takes place at the ULB from 4 to 15 March





Mundus maris - Sciences and Arts for Sustainability asbl has maintained a high level of participation in the 2013 agenda of Campus Plein Sud at the Free University of Brussels (ULB). This time, we organise or participate again in four events.

The theme in the 11th year of existence focuses land and sustainability issues, this time with particular attention to landgrabbing and interactions between different 'sectors' and the many dimensions of the debate about the state and future of the soils and the land on the continents of our Planet.

We can make a meaningful contribution to these thematic orientations as every second breath we take is from the ocean. The sea are a transport route for products from the land and unfortunately a recipient of dangerous levels of land-based pollution.

From its beginning, the ambition of Campus Plein Sud was to inform the campus community of the many facets of development "in the global South". This way, the organisers want to replace the caricature of misery or exoticism often painted by the media with more nuanced understanding. The climate change, global trade and sustainability perspectives forcefully illustrate global interdependencies. The calendar of our contributions comprises:

  • 6 March 2013 - Open course of Prof. Paul Jacobs "Interaction land - sea",
    16h00-18h00, UD2.120, Solbosch Campus, speaker Dr Cornelia E Nauen
  • 11 March 2013 - International Workshop "Education for Sustainabiity in an interdependent world",
    10h00-16h00, Institute of Sociology, Salle Janne, 15th floor, 44 ave. Jeanne, 1050 Brussels
  • 13 March 2013 - NGO Forum,
    11h00-17h00, Avenue Paul Héger-Solbosch Campus
  • 13 March 2013 - Cine-debate in the course of Prof. Gemenne,
    17h00-18h00, "Awa SEYE - leader of women in artisanal fisheries in Senegal" with subsequent debate with the social activist herself,
    Room: AY2.108 - Solbosch Campus

Campus Plein Sud at the ULB is organised by SEDIF. Follow the programme to read on for brief accounts about the activities supported by Mundus maris. Updates will be made as the programme unfolds.


Open course "Interaction land - sea"

The open course of Prof. Paul Jacobs "Interaction land - sea" was for second year students.


Paul Jacobs introduced the topic and the speaker. The talk was structured in four parts:

  • The land and the oceans - the basics
  • Did you know (with more infos on the interactions)
  • What are the implications of these facts?
  • What can we do together?

The presentation gave some foundation data about basic distribution of land and seas as well as key interactions between them in coastal zones.

The second part discussed what the oceans and the land mean to us in terms of food, shelter, energy, communication, climate conditions and much more.

Part 3 discussed major threats to the oceans, namely in the form of overfishing, climate change and plastic pollution. These threats are closely intertwined with the way we use the land. This can be seen in the form of agricultural runoff leading to eutrophication of coastal zones, loss of top soil from unsustainable land use practices.

These do not only reduce agricultural productivity but can lead, among others, to public health problems, when sandstorms become more frequent and provoke respiratory difficulties. Climate change affects marine as well as terrestrial organism with observable poleward movements as tropical and subtropical zones become too warm for their survival. Marine pollution, notably plastic litter, is very largely the result of improper landfills and other poor practices.

When the plastic disintegrates into smaller and smaller fragments throughout the water column in the oceans and is ingested by marine organisms, they may starve to death. This is already leading to collapse of marine bird populations. Moreover, it may well come to haunt us as we may have marine organisms intoxicated by plastics and other undesirable molecules when we have them on our menu.

The last part of the talk focused on citizen action to protect the oceans and promote sustainable land use practices, underlining the importance of good science and citizen engagement.

Increasing the scale and scope of protected areas on the land and in the seas is showing results, whenever implemented properly. Protected areas are considered by ecologists and resource economists alike as an insurance policy for coping with change. They help to protect the integrity of marine and land ecosystems and the functioning of life-support system Earth.

Protecting more space from direct human exploitation is in line with international agreements and recommendations, e.g. those adopted by the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). However, this and other international decisions are not yet implemented as agreed. To achieve better implementation and enforcement of existing laws, regulations and international agreements citizen action and international cooperation are essential.

Some examples of recent work by Mundus maris to promote sustainability education and practice were also given to underscore the feasibility and desirability of critical thinking and civic engagement. Critical thinking is all the more important as many issues are framed only from one dominant perspective and may not address the problems accurately. By way of example we note the widespread political preference for industrial forms of food production, whether in the sea or on the land. This is also reflected in what national and international statistics and accounting systems document.

The on-going reconstruction of more realistic fisheries production data, country by country, by the Sea Around Us Project challenges this distorted perspective. The reconstructions bring to light that so called "small-scale fisheries" are much more important than can be understood from official records, which may thus support wrong analyses and decisions. Artisanal fisheries also have several other positive characteristics over industrial fisheries, such as greater energy efficiency per unit of production and social effects. Early indications suggest that small-scale producers of food on the land may also be more important than official statistics make believe.

Click here for the powerpoint of the open course.

The subsequent discussion touched on several important features of land-sea interaction that had not been elaborated upon. One question e.g. concerned the role of aquaculture and led to the clarification that farming low in the food web is the thing to do to help with transitions to sustainable food production in the sea, while farming carnivores contributed to aggravate overfishing. The conclusion was that many environmental, social and economic indicators painted a rather serious negative picture, but that international cooperation and notable citizen mobilisation, proper law enforcement and good governance were worthwhile and meaningful approaches out of the crisis.

NGO Forum

The NGO Forum was originally planned for the outside, but had to be moved inside because of the winter weather. The Mundus maris team was composed of Aliou Sall, Stella Williams, Awa Seye and Cornelia Nauen engaging with the visitors and distributing information materials.

The message about protecting babyfish from being caught was well taken and understood.

The fishruler for the North Sea was helpful for illustrating what that meant for ex. for cod, the legal size of which is 35 cm total length, while the individuals in the population in the North Sea reach reproductive size only at about 68 cm, almost twice the legal minimum.

Most people were very surprised to learn about the extent of the malpractice.

Quite a number of people expressed their interest in the work of the association and some new collaborations may well come about as a result of the interactions at the stand.

Cine-debate "Awa SEYE - leader of women in artisanal fisheries in Senegal"


Look behind the scenes of the traditional fishing village Guet Ndar, Saint Louis, Senegal. The leader of the women active in the traditional fishery and strong personality in the community is Awa SEYE. Follow her through the interview, discover her working environment and social struggles and talk to the real persona.

Her rise from a down-trodden woman suffering loss of several babies in child birth to a leading midwife, community organiser and successful defender of the women's access rights to their working spaces on the beach against tourism developpers cast some light on what can be achieved with determination, social responsibility and civic engagement. As part of the Mundus maris contribution to the 2013 edition of Campus Plein Sud at the ULB, join the cine-débate in the course of Prof. Gemenne, 13 March 2013, from 17h00 to 18h00 in Room AY2.108 - Solbosch Campus.

This event follows on from an open course of Prof. Gemenne titled "Water, Food, Biodiversity: conflicts over the land", 14h00-17h00, Room: AY2.108 - Solbosch Campus

Most fittingly, the following cine-debate with projection of the video-interview will start at 17h00 to provide first hand illustration for some of the issues raised in the course.

The title of the video is "Awa SEYE - leader of women in artisanal fisheries in Senegal"

Description: This woman in her sixties has a life journey full of lessons thanks to her tireless commitment to her own community and those on the coast at the cross-roads of the social, economic and environmental challenges. She represents the determination, especially of the women, not to accept everything and defend their rights to the beach as a place for fish processing against the interests of coastal tourism. They are all working hard to improve their lives through access to training and social organisation.

Format: Projection of the video interview with Awa SEYE, followed by a discussion with the protagonist to provide access to an unfiltered, direct voice of the social actress herself, and enable the exchange with her.

The video-interview was directed by Mor Talla Ndione, the questions were posed by Aliou Sall.

In the master course of Prof Gemenne the students were already expecting the video-interview. They followed the footage attentively, as it gave them a vivid impression about some of the ground realities in the fishing village and confront this with more conceptual approaches, which are the backbone of the study. The interview underlined the commitment of Awa Seye not only to aleviate the plight of the women, but cater for the needs of the entire village and address the structural problems in the fisheries.


The subsequent discussion moderated by Aliou Sall, a social anthropologist with many years experience in the Senegalese and West African fisheries, was an excellent opportunity to check out doubts and questions.

He interpreted for Awa Seye so that her native Wolof was not an obstacle to communication. He often checked back with Awa to make sure he was giving a faithful response on her behalf to the questions and comments of the students. The student were happy to seize to get it "from the horse's mouth".

In the interaction with Awa as municipal adviser and community leader, the students got a more nuanced perspective on development.

Studying the many facets of local context in the light of the going development concepts was essential to look for the connections between these two sides of the same coin. Both sides became more aware of the other's context, a first step to be able to create some shared understanding.

Click here for the video-interview.

Look also at the bonus material from the film crew, when they visited Awa SEYE at her home in the traditional fishing village of Guet Ndar, separated from the historical centre of Saint Louis in northern Senegal by a bridge over one of the arms of the Senegal River delta