The Convention offers a regional legal framework and coordinates the efforts of the member states to plan and develop programmes that strengthen their capacity to protect, manage and develop their coastal and marine environment sustainably.
It also provides a forum for inter-governmental discussions that lead to better understanding of regional environmental problems and the strategies needed to address them; and promotes sharing of information and experiences in the WIO region and with the rest of the world.
Marine and coastal environments, and the goods and services they provide are under increasing pressure from unsustainable consumption and production patterns as well as ineffective management practices in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Some coastal urban hotspots are densely populated and rapidly industrializing. Those hotspots are facing a multitude of problems stemming from unplanned and unregulated land use patterns worsened by poor regulatory regimes.
Coastal tourism is an important industry in Mauritius, Seychelles, Kenya, Tanzania and the Republic of South Africa. At the same time, there is an interest in exploring and exploiting potential oil and gas reserves, which could further exacerbate the destruction of critical habitats such as coral reefs, mangroves, beaches and sea grass meadows.
Recognizing the environmental uniqueness of the coastal and marine environment of the region, the threats and the necessity for action, the countries of the Western Indian Ocean region requested UNEP to create a regional seas programme for the region. UNEP's Governing Council decision 8/13C of 29 April 1980 created the Eastern African Regional Seas Programme and further requested UNEP to assist the Governments of the region to formulate and implement a programme for the proper management and conservation of marine and coastal resources. The Nairobi Convention was in 1985 established to plan and develop programmes that strengthen the capacity Governments of the region to protect, manage and develop their coastal and marine environment sustainably.
The Secretariat for the Nairobi
The Convention’s Work Programme is implemented through a broad-based coordination structure including the core secretariat based in Nairobi guided by the governments of the region through a network of national focal points and thematic experts groups such as Coral Reef Taskforce, Marine Turtle Task Force, Marine Protected Areas and Legal and Technical Working Group
The Secretariat also works closely with collaborating
partners such as regional NGOs and various national
and research institutions.
It has successfully
catalysed the establishment of the "Consortium
for Conservation of Coastal and Marine Ecosystems
in the Western Indian Ocean" (WIO-C). This
is a consortium between major NGOs in the Western
Indian Ocean which have developed marine programmes.
The aim is to enhance collaboration, exchange
of information and synergy towards a joint programmatic
approach in addressing marine and coastal environmental
issue in the region.