Board of Trustees
DR tony RIBBINK, founding trustee
Dr Ribbink is the founding trustee of Sustainable Seas Trust (SST) and is currently the CEO and the director of the African Marine Waste Network, currently SST’s primary project. Dr Ribbink developed and led the African Coelacanth Ecosystem Programme, taking it to the NEPAD Flagship Status before assuming leadership for SST. Prior to leading the African Coelacanth Ecosystem Project, Dr Ribbink managed the World Bank-supervised Lake Malawi/Niassa SADC/GEF Biodiversity Conservation Programme, where he was responsible for the development of a scientific, socio-economic and conservation strategy for Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania in managing the lake and its catchment. Prior to that Dr Ribbink was Deputy Director and then Acting Director of the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity.
MIKE RODEL, CHAIRMAN
Mike Rodel is CEO of retail-property development company emRE, which operates in Southern and East Africa. He joined the board in 2013 and is its current chairman. He’s a civil engineer with years of experience in the property industry in South Africa and India, and has had a hand in the success of some of SA’s most well-known retail shopping centres, including Sandton City, Gateway Theatre of Shopping and Canal Walk. Mike has a particular interest in education and skills training through science centres. He’s also been appointed to the Exco of the ICSC (International Council of Shopping Centres) Board of Trustees.
Mandlakazi Skefile is the former CEO of Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism (NMBT) and a passionate tourism industry advocate. During her eight-year tenure, she’s been instrumental in positioning the city as an alternate destination to other SA cities. She’s actively lobbied for and supported major city events such as the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Ironman South Africa and recently Ironman 70.3 World Championship 2018, IRB World Series Sevens rugby tournament, a growing concerts portfolio, and the naming of the city as the Bottlenose Dolphin Capital of the World. She’s also helped bring to life global partnerships, and is a major supporter of sustainable and responsible tourism.
Nceba Mfini heads up African Marine Solutions Human Resources department. He’s passionate about sustainable transformation in South Africa, and has been instrumental in establishing strong skills development and talent management that has developed a high performance culture in the company. Nceba has 34 years of experience in his field, a long history that SST hopes to draw on in the creation of its education and skills-development programmes. He is also passionate about youth development in the community in order to develop self-sustainability and interdependency.
DR FREDERICK OOSTHUIZEN
Dr Oosthuizen joined the Board in 2013. He’s a medical doctor based in Grahamstown and an active surfer with a strong interest in the ocean. He combined his interest in surfing and medicine by researching the sports physiology of active surfers.
Richard Laing joined the Board in 2013 and is a keen environmentalist. He has been a practising attorney since 1968 and was a senior partner with Wheeldon, Rushmere and Cole in Grahamstown, where he still consults. He was also a committee member of Eastern Cape branch of the Environmental Law Association.
MEET THE TEAM
HEAD OF ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT
Through her work with the Museum of Aids in Africa, Namhla saw that one person, in their own way, can transform grief, hopelessness, poverty and misinformation into resilience, innovation and creativity for the community. She has worked in the fields of education, politics and communications for many sectors: government, NGOs and private business.
“Through working with communities and business, I want to shine the light about the welfare of animals, marine and land, and transform ignorance about littering into not just a new environmental activism, but a source of sustainable economic empowerment.”
HEAD OF AFRICAN YOUTH WASTE NETWORK
Through volunteering programmes in disadvantaged communities, Alexie discovered her passion for working with youth with a focus on environmental problems, so she jumped at the opportunity to work with Sustainable Seas Trust. It allows her to serve the community while raising awareness about environmental and marine issues. She has a BA in English and French literature, as well as an Honours in French.
“The youth of Africa have a valuable and important contribution to make to their communities, especially in driving sustainable futures. I’m very passionate about finding ways to connect the youth across the continent.”
MICROPLASTICS RESEARCH LEADER
Amarein obtained her Masters degree in Zoology from the Nelson Mandela University cum laude. Although her studies focused on terrestrial ecology, her passion for conservation led her to work with Sustainable Seas Trust to preserve the ocean and all it holds for Africa’s future generations.
“I want to make people more aware of the impact of littering and educate them on the consequences of plastic pollution that ends up in our ocean, so they dispose of their plastic waste in a responsible manner.”
“ I don’t believe in being one voice. I believe in being the difference.”
“As researchers we have a responsibility to not only ensure the integrity of our data, but also to communicate our science to relevant stakeholders. With the help of our communications team, we will ensure that our research is communicated in an appropriate and interesting way beyond scientific platforms. The power to inspire and encourage large-scale change lies with the public, not with scientists alone.”
Nozi is a young scientist and educator with a great passion for the environment. She holds a Masters in Zoology from the University of Stellenbosch. Her academic background has mainly focused on showing the importance of integrating molecular data into conservation (implementation of Marine Protected Areas) and management of marine biodiversity. With a strong passion to protect our oceans, she works with schools, governments and local communities to build capacity and raise awareness about the amount of waste produced on land that enters into our oceans.
“I’d love to use education as a platform to encourage people toward sustainable living practices and to re-ignite their passion for the environment and our oceans.”
Growing up on the shores of Kwa-Zulu Natal, Courtenay has a deep love for the ocean. Passionate about ocean conservation and plastic pollution, she joined Sustainable Seas Trust. Courtenay holds an Honours in Media Studies from the University of Rhodes, and using communications as a tool, she wants to gather the power of people to stand against plastic pollution.
“I want to use media and communications to put a spotlight on the devastations of plastic pollution. It’s a popular topic that catches attention, yet people are continuing their behaviours that add to the pollution. There’s a lot of talk, but not a lot of action. I want to not only create awareness, but influence action. Recycling, reusing, reducing and refusing need to be the norm, not the exception.”
Kylie Harris is an environmental researcher with a BSc in Biological Sciences and an Honours degree in Zoology, obtained at the Nelson Mandela University. Her area of specialisation is sandy beach ecology and their faunal inhabitants. Given her experience with the marine and coastal environment, which often act as “sinks” for plastic pollution, the negative impact plastic has on these systems is an all-too familiar issue. She is therefore thrilled to be part of the research team at Sustainable Seas Trust, which aims to address issues regarding plastic pollution in the environment.
“Bridging the communication gap between scientists and the public regarding plastic pollution is an important and tough issue to tackle if we want to create awareness and drive a behavioural change. It is therefore imperative for scientists to partner and work together with communities (and not function independently), if we are to preserve and sustain the environment for both wildlife and humans.”
“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.” – Robert Swan