Entire regions of the world’s oceans, otherwise known as Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs), are under threat from overfishing, pollution, invasive species, climate change and other human activities. Because LMEs are either shared by multiple countries or beyond any one country’s national jurisdiction fighting back against their degradation requires strong ocean governance.

The Nairobi Convention, whose ten member states have come together to form a partnership to combat ocean degradation and strengthen the protection and sustainable management of the WIO region  is a natural platform through which cross-country governance issues can be addressed.

The NC’s SAPPHIRE project promotes policy and institutional reform to help improve the management of the Western Indian Ocean LME. It will build capacity among governments, communities, partners, intergovernmental organizations and the private sector in sustainable resource management and ocean governance.

Project Summary

  • Project Status: Active
  • Implementing Agency: UNDP
  • Executing Agency: Nairobi Convention Secretariat
  • Project Period: 2017 – 2023
  • Total Resource Required: USD 326,565,994
  • Total Co-Financing:  USD 317,799,494
  • GEF:  USD 8,766,500
  • Governments: USD 311,040,044
  • In-kind:  USD 6,759,450
  • Country / Region implemented: Comoros, France, Kenya, Mauritius, Madagascar, Mozambique, Seychelles, Somalia, United Republic of Tanzania, Republic of South Africa

Project Components

Component 1

Policy Harmonization and Management Reforms: Approaches to ocean governance vary from country to country and from sector to sector, making it difficult to achieve cohesive management over shared resources like LMEs. This component will support the policy, legislative, and institutional reforms necessary to improve ocean governance

Component 2

Community Engagement: Though coastal communities are among the primary users and beneficiaries of ocean resources, they are often left out of ocean management processes. This component will engage and empower these communities in sustainable resource management.

Component 3

Private Sector Commitment: In order for ocean governance and management to be effective, ocean-related businesses—such as the tourism industry, large-scale fisheries, shipping companies, mining, water transport, etc.—must be involved. Under this component, SAPPHIRE will work with the private sector to mainstream ecosystem management in their operations and management practices.

Component 4

Best practices and lessons: Under this component, the project will identify and distribute best practices in areas like marine spatial planning, blue economy, in both EEZ and Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ).

Component 5

Capacity Development: under this cross-cutting component, , the project will provide training and support to the region to build sustainable capacity for improved ocean governance.

Project Progress

SAPPHIRE has held national level inception and scoping meetings in all nine participating countries to introduce the project, identify the country priorities, build partnerships, and establish the National Intersectoral Coordination Committees (NICC), whose job is to coordinate different in-country initiatives that contribute to SAPPHIRE’s implementation.

SAPPHIRE has now released a call for proposals to participating countries for projects that contribute to achieving Component 1 (Policy Harmonization and Management Reforms). Technical committees will be stablished to review proposals against set criteria. The proposals will focus on national level policy harmonization, realignment and related institutional capacity building including, ocean policy,  blue economy strategies, marine spatial planning roadmaps, ecosystem-based management tools, etc., all of which will enable the successful implementation of the strategic action programme(SAP)

SAPPHIRE has supported the Nairobi Convention’s convening science to policy forums in the region, in recognition of the need for science-based policy making and adaptive management.

The SAPPHIRE project has held four partnership meetings on oceanographic data and scientific research in the WIO region from   March -June 2019.The sessions brought together scientists, policy makers, and partners together to discuss the status of national data centers; identify priorities of countries in using, managing and owning their data findings; and agree on mechanisms and partnerships for data collection, sharing, and archiving, among others.

Several workshops have been held on MSP, which have provided a platform to examine MSP practices and tailor the implementation of MSP to their own maritime domains. At the last workshop in Tanzania, organized by the SAPPHIRE and WIOSAP projects, governments and partners asked the Nairobi Convention Secretariat to lead in the development of a Regional MSP strategy and establishment of a MSP technical working group.