Inspired by, and contributing to the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) Cairo Declaration of 2015, Contracting Parties to the Nairobi Convention adopted a Decision to develop a Regional Ocean Governance Strategy (ROGS) for the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) at their 10th Conference of Parties (COP) in November 2021. The Nairobi Convention Secretariat is actively supporting the participatory implementation of this Decision in partnership with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) through the “Western Indian Ocean Governance Initiative” (WIOGI), the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA), and the Collective Leadership Institute (CLI), working together as a ROGS Support Team since February 2021.
A 24-member ROGS Task Force – made up of both state and non-state actors from all 10 WIO countries – has been convened for collectively leading this process with the ROGS Support Team. Through co-development of the ROGS, they seek to model the kind of collaboration described in this shared vision:
Regional ocean governance means that WIO institutions and countries, and other diverse stakeholders collaborate effectively to advance a shared vision of a healthy, productive, and sustainable ocean for the benefit of coastal communities and business, marine and coastal ecosystems, WIO countries, and the region.
To date, the Task Force (TF) has participated in two Inception meetings; one for state members of the TF, and another that added non-state members to the TF. The Task Force also met in early August 2022 to discuss the proposed ROGS skeleton, and later that month, they attended an Information Session on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The UNCLOS is an international agreement that establishes a legal framework for all marine and maritime activities. These meetings were all held virtually.
The participatory process of developing the ROGS comprises of a series of content-specific Technical Dialogues that are guided by background papers. As depicted in the Process Architecture below, the three Task Force Technical Dialogues fall within these thematic areas: Sustainable Blue Economy and Maritime Security, Environment and Natural Resources, and Science and Knowledge. The TF will engage in these Technical Dialogues and co-create content for a draft ROGS to be reviewed and validated by the Nairobi Convention Contracting Parties. Thereafter, the draft Strategy will be presented to the Nairobi Convention COP for adoption.
To help build a culture of collaboration within the Task Force and to apply related methodologies to the Strategy dialogue process (especially the Collective Leadership Compass and Dialogic Change Model), CLI conducted its first Leading Collectively Workshop for Task Force Members in September 2022. The workshop conveyed methodologies and tools on a personal, peer, Cluster Team, and “Collaboration Ecosystem” level. A Collaboration Ecosystem is made up of a diversity of actors aligned and collectively leading toward a shared vision.
Cluster Teams completed interest/influence mapping of their respective Collaboration Ecosystems’ stakeholders and designed strategies for engaging key and missing actors. The engagement strategies were supported by an assessment of their (emerging) Collaboration Ecosystem with the Compass. Below is an example from the Sustainable Blue Economy and Maritime Security Cluster Team:
Inputs were made and discussions were had on the ROGS Skeleton, priority sectors, and financing and implementation mechanisms.
Participant feedback on the workshop was favorable, with 100% recommending the workshop to other colleagues and partners. Participants did point out, however, that participation and commitment for the process would increase through in-person events. In summary, one participant wrote that the workshop provided “a great approach to bring stakeholders together in order to conceptualize, create, and implement desired change together.“
A final plenary discussion identified several opportunities for holding the next key in-person events, including meetings of Task Force members at the 12th WIOMSA Symposium in South Africa from 10-14 October 2022:
The idea was also born for CLI to organize a Leading Collectively Session at the Symposium for both the attending ROGS Task Force and Information Management Strategy (IMS) Multi-Stakeholder Working Group members. The IMS is a related strategy development process that is, in part, meant to support ocean governance decision-making. Furthermore, a second Leading Collectively Workshop is being planned for the ROGS Task Force in early 2023.