The world is currently facing an unprecedented planetary crisis of pollution and waste, climate change, and biodiversity loss. Evidence-based management and policy decision making is critical to inform interventions to turn the tide. Marine scientists, researchers, and experts commendably and constantly publish papers and articles from their respective fields in science and research journals and publications. However, it remains difficult for non-experts in the field to easily understand and translate the scientific information therein, and its implications on the environment and community livelihoods. The non-experts include the public and policy and decision-makers who have powers to effect laws and policy actions affecting the marine environment and blue economies across the Western Indian Ocean (WIO). This situation, therefore, calls for the need to frame scientific knowledge into a language and format that policymakers and decision-makers easily understand. Pursuant to this gap, the Contracting Parties of the Nairobi Convention have made various COP Decisions to encourage and strengthen the link between science and policy
At the eighth Conference of Parties to the Nairobi Convention (COP 8), a Decision that approved the establishment of a dialogue platform which could strengthen the links between science, policy, and action (CP8/12) was passed. Thereafter, the Platform structure and procedures were developed and approved in 2019, leading to its first meeting in March 2021, held virtually. Thirty-three papers on different thematic areas were presented based on the theme: “Towards Blue Economy in the Western Indian Ocean”. Twenty-nine of them were compiled into the first volume of the WIO Science to Policy Platform Series through a partnership between the Nairobi Convention and WIOMSA.
This compilation is a true depiction of cross-sector collaboration as the papers are by contributors from academia, government, and the private sector. Generally, they recognize the challenges existing in attaining sustainable marine environments and blue economies in the Western Indian Ocean, and the existing gaps in policy, implementation, and awareness about emerging issues requiring further policy-relevant research. On the other hand, the papers also describe successful policy interventions and highlight emerging issues that are receiving significant attention because of their relevance in the regional context.
The papers in this pioneering Volume are grouped into thematic areas namely: Species and ecosystems, Data and tools, Water quality and land-based pollution, Marine Protected Areas, Fish and fisheries, Cities and Blue Economy, Climate change impacts and adaptation.
This Series is one of the major milestones within the Convention area of enhancing science and policy linkages to ensure evidence-based policymaking. This integration has the potential to harness scientific knowledge for blue economy transformation in the WIO region.
This science-to-policy series publication was launched during the 12th WIOMSA Scientific Symposium in October 2022. The theme of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development-endorsed Symposium was A New Decade of Western Indian Ocean Science. The WIOMSA Symposium is a one-of-its-kind convening of coastal and marine experts, managers, and policymakers from across the region. It stages presentations on the most recent advances in ocean and climate science with a bid to address critical challenges toward a prosperous Western Indian Ocean region.