The 2023 edition of the Marine Regions Forum has kicked off in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and will be running from 7-9 November 2023. This forum brings together stakeholders from the Western Indian Ocean region to provide a platform for these experts to present and deliberate on governance issues and recommendations that can effectively foster a sustainable ocean economy. This Conference builds on outcomes from the 2019 edition whose theme was “Achieving a healthy ocean – Regional ocean governance beyond 2020.”
Ms. Mary Maganga, Permanent Secretary of Environment, Tanzania, officially opened the three-day conference. In her opening remarks, Ms. Maganga emphasized the significance of ocean governance in Tanzania and Zanzibar, outlining their priorities for regional cooperation and ocean governance during the Marine Regions Forum (MRF).
The opening sessions featured insights from various speakers and experts, including Dr. Barbara Neumann- Marine Regions Forum, Ms. Charlina Vladimirova Vitcheva-Director-General of the Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries at the European Commission, Mr. Dixon Waringe- Head Nairobi Convention, Dr. Aboud Jumbe-Principal Secretary at the Ministry of Blue Economy and Fisheries, Zanzibar, Tanzania, Mr. Dennis Matatiken-the Principal Secretary of Environment in Seychelles, and Mr. Emilio Rosetti- Deputy Head of the EU Delegation on behalf of the Swedish Government, covering topics ranging from regional collaboration, ocean governance, and addressing the triple planetary crisis.
Dr. Aboud Jumbe, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Blue Economy and Fisheries, highlighted the development of the Western Indian Ocean Regional Ocean Governance Strategy and its potential to accelerate better ocean governance in the region, focusing on the importance of including various marine sectors and stakeholders. Dr. David Obura, Director of CORDIO East Africa, also highlighted the urgency of addressing the triple planetary crisis, particularly its impact on coral reefs in the WIO region. He stressed the need for climate-resilient solutions and transformative change.
Speaking at the first plenary session, Ms. Minna Epps from the International Union for Conservation of Nature, stressed the importance of science-based collaboration for implementing global goals at regional levels. She highlighted the significance of multilateralism in addressing ocean challenges and called on the WIO region to champion the ratification and adoption of the High Seas (BBNJ) Treaty.
Mr. Dixon Waruinge from the Nairobi Convention, emphasized the importance of adopting regional approaches in ocean governance. He highlighted the historical context of ocean governance, noting the origins of Law of the Sea. Additionally, Mr. Waruinge underscored that the means to good ocean governance is as significant as the end. He underscored the value of appreciating and maintaining the ocean’s natural capital, delivering on value propositions, and addressing climate change impacts, citing the example of tropical cyclone Freddy which adversely affected Madagascar, Mozambique and Malawi.
The afternoon session saw parallel workshop sessions ran concurrently at the Forum where delegates were engaged in discussions anchored on inclusivity across the conference’s four topical strands: fostering a blue economy; regional ocean governance; tackling the triple planetary crisis; and implementing global goals at the regional level.