Parties to the Abidjan Convention Agree to Boost Cooperation on Marine Challenges Wed, Mar 26, 2014

South Africa Offers Use of Marine Research Vessel Free to Boost Oceans Valuation

Director of UNEP’s Division of Environmental Law and Conventions (DELC) Ms. Elizabeth Mrema and president of Network of Regional Marine Protected areas of West Africa (RAMPAO Aboubacar Oulare sign MOU between UNEP’s Abidjan Convention and RAMPAO at the 11th COP meeting in Cape Town. Photo: South Africa Department of Environmental Affairs (SA DEA)

Cape Town, 26 March 2014 - Parties to the Abidjan Convention - which governs issues ranging from marine pollution to overfishing across much of the African continent - have agreed to accelerate the Convention's implementation through increased financial and technical support.

The Abidjan Convention is a comprehensive agreement for the protection and management of the marine environment and coastal areas. By committing countries to take action, it tackles sources of pollution including ships, dumping, land-based activities and exploration and exploitation of the seabed. It also commits Parties to cooperative efforts on coastal erosion, specially protected areas and environmental impact assessment, and stipulates liability and compensation in some cases.

Parties to the Convention ended their eleventh meeting last week with a decision to boost the 16-member body's biennial budget by 39 per cent, aimed at bringing the green economy to the "blue world" through the sustainable management of marine resources.

They noted that the application of green economy principles would lead to more jobs and cleaner coastal and marine environments.

"The combined oceans and coasts jurisdiction of our countries is huge, and represents a development node or area that is potentially very significant to all our people and economies," said Edna Molewa, Water and Environmental Affairs Minister of South Africa, during the conference. She further stressed that bringing green economy principles to the world's oceans was a critical component of the Convention's work.

Another major outcome of the conference was South Africa's offer to make its marine research vessel, the SA Algulhas, available free of charge to Parties of the convention. The research vessel could play a significant role in helping pushing forward the valuation of oceans.

Participants at the meeting included Ambassador Daniel Castillos of Uruguay to South Africa, president pro tempore of the Zone of Peace and Cooperation of the South Atlantic - which is shared by both Latin American and African countries - who attended as a guest of honour and as a demonstration of support for South-South cooperation.

Decisions taken at last week's conference include:

  • The development of a working group to study conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdictions, within the framework of the Abidjan Convention;
  • Enhancing capacity-building, particularly of Small Island Developing States, for the identification of marine areas of Ecological or Biological Significance;
  • The promotion of South-South cooperation to support capacity-building and technological exchange among experts and institutions of the South.

It was also decided that Nigeria would host the region's Emergency Coordination Centre for Marine Pollution.

The conference was preceded by the first meeting of the Convention's Ad Hoc Committee on Science and Technology, which was created at the tenth Conference of the Contracting Parties, held 2012 in Pointe Noire, Republic of Congo.

Among the Committee's objectives are to further the interests of the Abidjan Convention by sourcing and providing information to advance the green economy approach. In addition, the Committee will enable Africa to increase biodiversity protection on the basis of collection of scientific knowledge about the state of their marine and coastal environments.

About the Abidjan Convention

The Convention for the Cooperation in the Protection, Management and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Atlantic Coast of West and Central and Southern African Region (Abidjan Convention) is one of the African regional Seas conventions administered by UNEP.

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