Across the continent, (RECs) and Commissions have been recognized as key partners in the protection of marine and coastal environments. The African Union, for example, has appointed RECs to be the Focal Points for development initiatives under Agenda 2063 (a 2015 framework that has the Blue Economy contributing to continental transformation and growth as an aspiration). Additionally, the 2017 African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) requested the Nairobi Convention Secretariat to enter a cooperative agreement with relevant regional bodies to enhance application of ecosystem-based management approaches.
Against this backdrop, the Nairobi Convention organized a meeting in Durban, South Africa on 11 to 12 April 2019with partners and the four RECs that have a mandate in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region:
- Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)
- East African Community (EAC),
- Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)
- Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Other Commissions and partners that included were SWIOFC, IOC-COI, IOTC, PMAESA, and WIOMSA, among others.
The meeting found several opportunities for the Nairobi Convention to collaborate with RECs and Commissions on sustainable management of coastal and marine resources. See some examples below.
- Policy and Strategy Opportunities:
- Support the development of Blue Economy strategies and AMCEN decision-making around Blue Economy.
- Engage in discussions on Marine Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ) and marine Biological diversity in areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ).
- Participate in the Nairobi Convention’s upcoming Science to Policy platform
- Strengthen development of Green Port Development Guidelines
- Support AMCEN’s development of a Regional Ocean Governance Strategy
- Collaborate with the SAPPHIRE project to support countries in policy harmonization and capacity building
- Implement/develop biodiversity and environmental conservation, monitoring and valuation initiative
- Programmatic Opportunities:
- Create a regional monitoring programme on the status of coastal and marine environments
- Develop and implement interventions geared towards a climate-resilient Blue Economy and African Security Initiative
- Encourage governments to undertake natural capital assessments to inform development decisions
- Promote the establishment and management of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)
- Assist in data acquisition, analysis, and packaging for informed decision-making
- Support the management of marine plastics
- Collaborate with WIOSAP project’s Regional Task Forces on critical habitats, water quality, and river flows
- Promote development of Marine Spatial Planning (MSP)
Moving forward, a “core group” will be established as a way for the Nairobi Convention Secretariat, RECs, Commissions and partners to communicate on these initiatives. The Nairobi Convention will also develop an “implementation matrix” outlining the initiative, the partner responsible for the activity, and a timeline for implementation.