The Nairobi Convention recently facilitated the participation of Madagascar at the One Ocean Summit held in Brest, Paris between 9 and 11 February 2022. Madagascar, through the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Developmen,t was elected as the Chair of the Nairobi Convention Bureau November 2021 to lead the implementation of the 2022 – 2024 work programme and the decisions taken during the COP10. Aimed at stepping up the international community’s ambition to act on maritime issues and putting into practice the shared responsibility for the oceans, the One Ocean Summit meeting brought together 41 States and representatives of civil society and businesses. In her address, Minister Ms RAHARINIRINA Baomiavotse Vahinala, Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development of Madagascar highlighted the rich and diverse natural ecosystems, including mangroves, coral reefs, seagrass beds, beaches, estuaries, and coastal marshes which support both ecological and economic functions.
However, she noted that concerns have grown over the years over the preservation of Madagascar’s unique biodiversity from overexploitation of marine resources, climate change, lack of proper waste management systems and soil erosion. The country is further exposed to problems related to increased illegal acts at sea and the passage of ships carrying hazardous chemicals and chemical wastes in the Mozambique Channel, which pose negative effects on human health and the environment in the event of accidents.
Important and ambitious commitments made during the meeting by participating states included taking action to preserve biodiversity, stopping overexploitation of marine resources, fighting pollution and mitigating climate change. Noting Madagascar’s commitment at the World Parks Congress in Sydney in 2014 to triple the size of marine protected areas, the Minister confirmed that the country has to date brought about 1,358,682 ha of their marine space to protection. She further stated that Madagascar has a strategic vision to make the blue economy a pillar of Sustainable Development in line with the commitments made at the first international conference on the blue economy held in Nairobi-Kenya from 26 to 28 November 2018.
Other notable contributions in regional ocean governance by Madagascar include hosting of the Regional Maritime Information Fusion Center (CRFIM), participation in the Regional Fisheries Monitoring Plan (PRSP), contributions to Strategic Objective 11 (Aichi Target) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), participation in the diplomatic conference which adopted the International Convention on Preparedness, Response and Cooperation in Respect of Pollution by hydrocarbons (OPRC 90), and ten resolutions to address the issue of combating oil pollution accidents at sea.
In line with the ambitious commitments made during the meeting, the minister affirmed Madagascar’s supports for the establishment of a legally binding international instrument relating to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond the national jurisdiction (i.e. BBNJ – Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction). The minister further noted the commitment by the Malagasy Government to implement a Voluntary Directive to ensure the sustainability of small-scale fisheries, implement the Madagascar Emergence Plan, strengthen the security of the sea and its resources, integrate the use marine spatial planning as a basic tool for the promotion of the blue economy, effectively regulate fisheries, and establish rational exploitation of marine and coastal resources. She also called on the countries of the Western Indian Ocean to adhere to and contribute fully to the regional commitments such as the Nairobi Convention to combat marine pollution, reduce carbon emissions, sustainably manage shared fisheries resources, and contribute to integrated ocean governance.