What did you accomplish with your host organization? What was the impact of your work?
The final product of my work with WWF and IUEM was a spreadsheet of compiled economic data from published research and studies on coral reefs and mangroves in East Africa. The data was organized according to relevance towards the Blue Economy, such as economic impact towards fisheries and tourism–sectors of valuable significance towards Kenya and Tanzania’s overall economy. The data would later on be used by the organization to provide an overall assessment of Kenya and Tanzania’s Blue Economy. This assessment would put an economic value on mangroves and coral reefs within the two countries that would hopefully advocate for the protection of these vital marine habitats.
Of all the places I had thought of going to for my summer fellowship, I never would have thought of being based in Brest, France–especially when I had zero skills in speaking or even understanding French! I admit… I had never even heard of the city before this internship was recommended to me so it has never been on my list of top destinations to work. As someone who grew up in the tropics and prefers the tropical climate, I had imagined being somewhere closer to the equator. Despite this, however, Brest definitely did not disappoint!
I came into my program knowing full well what my interests were and what exactly I wanted to focus on. When I was asked what I wanted to do for my CBE fellowship, the answer was simple–I wanted to contribute to the conservation of coral reefs. For as long as I can remember, I have always enjoyed snorkeling and, eventually, diving among the reefs in my home country, the Philippines. So when I was told about a chance to work on a blue economy assessment for Kenya and Tanzania that placed special emphasis on the importance of coral reefs and mangroves, I took on the opportunity.