Western Indian Ocean nations commit to co-developing a new ocean policy and strategy to achieve regional goals |22 December 2021
At the Nairobi Convention COP10, the ten governments of the Western Indian Ocean nations unanimously agreed to co-create an ambitious new regional ocean strategy and accompanying policies to support sustainable ocean development underpinned by science-based management.
The goal of this programme – ‘The Western Indian Ocean – Resilience & Prosperity Initiative’ (WIO-RPI) – is to define the policy and design the first five-year strategic plan to be presented for ratification at the Nairobi Convention’s COP11 in 2023.
“The WIO-RPI will be an essential part of our region’s strategic and policy framework to ensure we maintain a prosperous and resilient Western Indian Ocean that is essential to our collective sustainable economic growth, to enhance our food security and to strengthen our resilience to climate change consequences,” said Seychelles’ Minister for Agriculture, Climate Change and Energy, Flavien Joubert.
The Western Indian Ocean is home to 240 million people, which is set to increase to over 800 million over the coming decades. The WIO’s total ocean asset base is at least US $333.8 billion, not including the intrinsic value of biodiversity and potentiality of other resources. Currently, 7% of the Exclusive Economic Zones of WIO nations have some form of conservation or management strategies, equating to 1.85% of the entire WIO.
“The protection of the western Indian Ocean region is of paramount importance to all of us, and generations to come,” said Mirey Atallah, deputy director of the Ecosystems Division at the UN Environment Programme, host of the Nairobi Convention. However, “we are acutely aware that we need to rethink the use and level of protection of our oceans drastically to save it for future generations”.
The WIO-RPI has four broad areas of focus and interconnected objectives:
I. Enhance Marine Science: To inform and coordinate decisions on the sustainable use and management of marine resources and priorities for restoration and resilience.
II. Harness a Sustainable Blue Economy: To support the development of a sustainable blue economy plan that delivers resilience, jobs and a just, equitable transition
III. Strengthen Natural Resilience & Restoration: To establish a just, equitably designed and managed connected network of ecologically and culturally representative protected areas in national and international waters, complementing global targets.
IV. Advance Ocean Governance: To advance governance for sustainable use and management of marine resources and protected areas.
“The health, wealth and well-being of the people and ocean of our region are intertwined. The threats we face are not isolated to one nation. The opportunity to secure our futures can only be achieved with regional and international collaboration. Political leadership to create and implement this ocean policy at a regional scale is a critical step to secure our collective future at the speed and scale that we require,” shared Seychelles former President, Danny Faure.
The government of Seychelles is coordinating the co-creation and co-production of the WIO-RPI in collaboration with the Danny Faure Foundation and the Nairobi Convention as the implementing partners. Nekton, the UK marine science and conservation organisation are the technical partners to all parties of the WIO-RPI.
“There are already a significant number of existing initiatives to support ocean resilience and prosperity in the WIO, some led by governments, some by civil society. More is needed such as the ambition of the WIO Great Blue Wall Initiative launched at COP26 in Glasgow. The WIO-RPI will provide us all with the policy and strategic framework that will help coordinate our activities while also providing the surety for international financing required to implement the critical activities,” said, Oliver Steeds, chief executive of Nekton.