The African Union InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) organized the Inception Meeting of the ‘Conserving Aquatic Biodiversity in African Blue Economy’ Project from 8-10 December 2021 in Naivasha, Kenya.
Ms. Francisca Gonah, in her opening address, on behalf of the AU-IBAR Acting Director, Dr. Nick Nwanpa noted that “AU-IBAR coordinated the formulation of the African Blue Economy Strategy and is currently supporting the implementation of this pan African instrument which has a vision of promoting inclusive and sustainable blue economy that significantly contributes to Africa’s transformation and growth in fulfilment of a key goal of the African Union Agenda 2063”. She further recognized the support of the Government of Sweden towards ‘conserving aquatic biodiversity in African Blue Economy’ and the timeliness and significant step towards enhancing the sustainable and integrated development of African blue economy resources.
In his welcome to participants later during the workshop, AU-IBAR Acting Director, Dr. Nick Nwankpa expressed appreciation to all participants for their attendance in the inception workshop. He noted that important aquatic resources are becoming increasingly susceptible to both natural and artificial environmental changes. Thus, conservation strategies to protect and conserve aquatic life are necessary to maintain the balance of nature and support the availability of resources for future generations.
Hon. Peter Munya, EGH Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Agricture, Livestock, Fisheries and Co-Operatives also highlighted that although food security and livelihoods of societies heavily dependent on fisheries and aquaculture, there is a worrying trend of deterioration of important ecosystems and by extension biodiversity. He quotes from IUCN, noting that ‘ over 27% of the world’s 845 species of reef-building corals have been listed as threatened; an additional 20% considered near-threatened, and a prediction that a further 50 to 60 per cent of the world’s reefs may be destroyed within the next 30 years unless urgent management measures are taken.’’
Hon Munya urged participants to take cognizant of five key issues required in the urgent management of aquatic biodiversity:
(i) The need to harness and curate critical information to help progress towards international targets for biodiversity conservation, such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Strategic Plan for the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD);
(ii) The development and enactment of coherent and integrated requisite aquatic biodiversity policy, legal and institutional capacities and capabilities must be supported by adequate human and financial resources and strengthening of evidence led research and policy nexus to assure sustainable development and management;
(iii) Prioritization of Ocean literacy and communications on opportunities and barriers to blue economy development to encourage all people to care of the blue spaces through innovative awareness programmes and strategies which targets all population segments including school going children.
(iv) Ensure sustainable Blue Growth by bringing together various sub-sectors to work in an integrated way in order to achieve effectiveness and efficiency;
(v) A need for urgent coordinated action to restore and sustain the health of Africa’s Blue Economy by paying attention to increased investment into addressing the key threats to blue economy spaces health: overfishing, habitat destruction, climate change and pollution.
In addition to the opening session, the workshop programme also comprised several sessions and expert presentations. (See presentations). The inception meeting was attended by over 60 participants.
The Conserving Aquatic Biodiversity in African Blue Economy’ Project is implemented by the African Union InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) and funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). The Project began in October 2021, and will be implemented until October, 2024.
Participants had a feel of some Kenya tradition during the launch
Additional Readings and Reference