The Western Indian Ocean is being degraded by activities that harm marine life, undermine coastal communities and negatively affect human health. These threats make it more important than ever for governments in the region to work together to strengthen protection of the ocean.

The Nairobi Convention—signed by  ComorosFranceKenyaMadagascarMauritiusMozambiqueSeychellesSomaliaTanzania and the  Republic of South Africa — provides a platform for governments, civil society, and the private sector to work together for the sustainable management and use of the marine and coastal environment.

Brief History of the Nairobi Convention

The Nairobi Convention, which was first signed in 1985 and entered into force in 1996, is part of UNEP’s Regional Seas Programme. The programme aims to address the accelerating degradation of the world’s oceans and coastal areas through the sustainable management and use of the marine and coastal environment. It does this by engaging countries that share the Western Indian Ocean in actions to protect their shared marine environment. The Contracting Parties to the Convention are part of more than 143 countries that participate in 18 Regional Seas initiatives.

Nairobi Convention Work Programme

The work programme is based on the priorities of the Western Indian Ocean countries, partner initiatives,  linkages between different environmental themes, socio-economic development issues and science and policy. The work programme is funded by Governments, through the East African Trust Fund, as well as by partners/donors. Read the 2022-2024 work programme here. 

Partnerships and stakeholders

The Secretariat works closely with collaborating partners, such as the “Consortium for Conservation of Coastal and Marine Ecosystems in the Western Indian Ocean” (WIO-C) , other regional non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and various national and research institutions. Established in 2006, the WIO-C is a partnership between major NGOs with the support of international governmental organizations in the Western Indian Ocean. The WIO-C is anchored in the Nairobi Convention, and is designed to improve information exchange, synergy and coordination between NGOs working on coastal and marine environment issues in the region, and to move towards a joint programmatic approach in addressing these issues. Read more about our Partners.

Legal Instruments

The Nairobi Convention was signed on Friday, June 21, 1985 and came into force in Thursday, May 30, 1996.
At the 6th Conference of Parties, Contracting Parties adopted the:

Protocol for the Protection of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Western Indian Ocean from Land-Based Sources and Activities

Year adopted: Nairobi, 31 March, 2010

Parties: Comoros, France, Kenya, Madagascar, Republic of Mauritius, Mozambique, Republic of Seychelles, Somalia, the United Republic of Tanzania and Republic of South Africa.

Amended Nairobi Convention for the Protection, Management, and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Western Indian Ocean

Year adopted: Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Additional protocols include:

Protocol Concerning Protected Areas and Wild Fauna and Flora in the Eastern African Region

Year adopted: Nairobi, 21 June 1985

Year entered into force: 30 May 1996

Parties: Comoros, France, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Somalia, the United Republic of Tanzania and Republic of South Africa

Protocol Concerning Co-operation in Combating Marine Pollution in Cases of Emergency in the Eastern African Region

Year adopted: 1985

Year entered into force: 30 May 1996

Parties: Comoros, France, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Somalia, the United Republic of Tanzania and Republic of South Africa.

Structure

  • The structure of the Nairobi Convention is composed of a Secretariat, a set of National Focal Points, the Partners of the Convention, expert groups/task forces, and the Regional Coordinating Unit (RCU). The Secretariat serves as the central administrator for the Convention and implementation of the work program.
  • The Conference of Parties (COP) is the main decision making body of the Convention, composed of experts form each country. The COP is convened every two years to review the implementation of the Convention and the Protocols (a smaller group, the Bureau of Contracting Parties, meets between COP meetings to address issues related to implementation of the Convention). The Bureau exercises decision-making powers on substantive issues related to implementation of the Convention and its protocols between ordinary meetings of the Contracting Parties, reviewing preparations for the ordinary and extraordinary meeting and providing guidance to the Secretariat of the Convention and making adjustments in the programme and budget as necessary. It is composed of a President, Vice-President and Rapporteur.
  • To address emerging issues in the region, the COP has also established expert groups and task forces, such as the Mangrove Network, the Coral Reef Task Force, Marine Turtle Task Force, the Forum for Academic and Research Institutes (FARI), and the Legal and Technical Working Group.