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Stakeholders from western Indian Ocean, eastern Africa explore strategies to boost ocean governance | 05 September 2019

Stakeholders from western Indian Ocean, eastern Africa explore strategies to boost ocean governance

The delegates in a souvenir photo

Stakeholders from countries of the Western Indian Ocean regionincluding Seychelles and eastern Africa as well as their partners are meeting here for two days to discuss strategies and explore ways to improve ocean governance in the region.

The discussion sessions taking place at the Savoy Resort & Spa have been organised by the Nairobi Convention in recognition of the importance of proper management of coastal and marine resources.

The opening was held yesterday morning and for the two days the delegates will discuss the structure of the ocean governance strategy for the region whilst ensuring alignment with national and regional priorities as well as aligning the development of the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) ocean governance strategy with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Agreement and other global ocean governance initiatives. Furthermore, the workshop will serve as a platform for other discussions around the message to be presented at the Marine Regions Forum to be held in Berlin in September and the Ocean Conference to be held in Lisbon in 2020.

During the brief opening session, principal secretary for environment Alain de Comarmond noted that marine and coastal resources in the region are managed through national institutions at national level but that it is imperative that such institutions work together for better management of marine and coastal resources.

“In principle, the Western Indian Ocean is a region that is rich in biodiversity, in natural resources and the countries present here today are all developing slowly in terms of the ocean and maritime sectors, so and developing at different rates economically, socially and also the preservation of the environment in general and this is being done at national level. But we decided in 2018, under the Convention, there is a conference of parties which provides for all countries to meet to take political decisions in regards to what needs for the convention and one of the decisions that was taken last year was to start working on a strategy for the ocean in the region,” said PS de Commarmond.

PS de Commarmond noted that there are lots of ocean activities in our region such as fishing, which is a productive activity, exploitation of minerals and a lot of efforts for environment preservation and our region is also a corridor which is very active in terms of maritime traffic. A lot is happening and it is time for us to come up with an ocean governance strategy as to how the region and all the countries in Eastern Africa and islands states as well can work together.

The strategy will determine how as a region we can ensure that all organisations and authorities overseeing all these mechanisms, such as Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) can come together to create more harmony in the way that this is conducted.

The region has a total coastline of more than 15,000km, a continental shelf area of some 450,000km2 and an estimated population of 220 million people, of which over 60 million live within 100km of the shoreline. The WIO region’s annual gross marine product (equivalent to the Gross Domestic Product of a country) of least US $20.8 billion illustrates the significant economic value of the region’s coastal and marine resources.

Similarly, the head of the Nairobi Convention Secretariat, Dixon Waruinge highlighted the need for an effective mechanism for addressing the sustainable use of marine and coastal resources, emphasising the different factors which are impacting on the costal and marine environment in the region.

“The coastal and marine environment of the WIO region has started showing signs of degradation and biodiversity loss. Such trends can be attributed to both natural factors, such as climate change, and anthropogenic activities such as coastal development, overfishing, sand mining, dredging and pollution from land-based sources and activities. In line with these growing threats, stakeholders in the region are viewing ocean governance as an effective mechanism for addressing the sustainable use of marine and coastal resources,” Mr Waruinge emphasised.

At the end of the two-day workshop, it is hoped that the recommendations and proposals put forward by delegates can be drafted into a document or plan to be used to guide regional collaboration, cooperative decision-making and enhancing partnerships to improve ocean governance as per the legal framework of the Nairobi Convention.

Yesterday’s sessions were focused on stakeholder cooperation in ocean governance, the WIO region governance strategy with facilitators from numerous institutions including the Western Indian Ocean Marine Sciences Association (WIOMSA), the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) and UN Environment.

The workshop will continue today with sessions on the alignment of the WIO Ocean governance to the ongoing global processes and area-based cooperation in WIO ocean governance with case studies based on the joint management of the Mascareigne plateau with Mauritius as well as several group discussions.

The Nairobi Convention offers a legal framework and a forum for intergovernmental discussions, under which the efforts of its contracting parties in the protection, management and development of their coastal and marine environment are coordinated.

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