World Environment Day 2022
June 5 marks World Environment Day, celebrated globally since 1973 as a platform for raising environmental awareness and acting on urgent planetary issues. Sadly, the urgency to reverse damage done by humanity on nature was as urgent then as it is now, as humanity is now facing the ‘triple planetary crisis’; climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss –all interlinked.
According to UNHCR, 21.5 million people are displaced by climate-change related disasters every year. At the Incomati Delta in Mozambique for instance, one cyclone after another (among other issues like overexploitation of ocean resources) as a result of climate change has negatively affected livelihoods that depend on ocean resources.
In November 2021, The Nairobi Convention held its 10th Conference of Parties and Contracting Parties agreed to new actions to protect critical habitats, improve climate preparedness in the Western Indian Ocean. With more than 65 million people living within 100 kilometers of the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) coastline and depending on its resources -valued at an estimated 20 billion USD per year- for livelihoods, protecting the region from further environmental damage is critical to the wellbeing of future generations. The Western Indian Ocean is also home to not less than 20,000 marine species, many of which are endemic to the region.
The World Environment Day theme this year is #OnlyOneEarth – and the goal is to raise awareness about transformative environmental change on climate, nature and pollution encouraging sustainable living for everyone, everywhere. It comes hot on the heels of Stockholm+50 where sustainable environmental actions were suggested.
This World Environment Day, the Nairobi Convention Secretariat shares updates on how contracting parties and stakeholders are working to protect, conserve, and manage the Western Indian Ocean region; from sustainably managing shallow marine habitats in the Comoros, to the development of a spatial planning plan in Kilifi County in Kenya, to partnering to develop a regional Ocean Governance Strategy for the region- which will eventually feed into an Africa-wide Ocean Governance Strategy, to collaborating to sustainably manage fisheries in the Southwest Indian Ocean region.
The WIOSAP project whose primary focus is to combat land-based sources and activities that place enormous stress on our oceans, putting our health, jobs, and ecosystems at risk is working with partners and stakeholders across 8 countries through demonstration projects that illustrate best practices as well as inform replicability on other local sites. Read about the challenges, measures being taken and progress made by these demonstration projects to date, HERE.
Without proper policy and institutional frameworks to enforce the management of Large Marine Ecosystems, conservation and protection efforts are highly likely to be futile. It is in this light that the SAPPHIRE project exists; to build the capacity of governments, communities, partners, intergovernmental organizations and the private sector in sustainable resource management and ocean governance. Notably, the SAPPHIRE project is collaborating with GIZ through the Western Indian Ocean Governance Initiative (WIOGI), a partnership with the Nairobi Convention designed to support improved Ocean Governance in the WIO. A comprehensive background paper on aspects relevant to Ocean Governance in the WIO region and globally (The State of Ocean Governance in the Western Indian Ocean) has also been developed, following mandate to develop an Ocean Governance Strategy for the WIO.
The Nairobi Convention also has other projects, among the ACP MEAs 3 Programme partnership between the EU, the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). It aims to build capacity in 79 countries in Africa, Caribbean, and the Pacific (ACP) to support them in addressing environmental challenges and to reap the benefits of improved environmental governance at national and regional levels. Read past issues of the ACP MEA 3 Programme Digest here.
Fisheries sectors in the WIO region are integral to economic growth, as small-scale and subsistence fisheries provide jobs and food to coastal communities. The SWIOFC – Nairobi Convention Partnership Project, improves coordination between fisheries and environmental management to ensure sustainable exploitation of the WIO fisheries resources and ecosystems that support them.