The Minister of Sanitation, Environment and Sustainable Development of Côte d’Ivoire has called on African states to put value to the coastal and marine environment as it provides multiple benefits to people.
Anne Desiree Ouloto made this call at the 12th Conference of the Parties to the Abidjan Convention which started in the Ivorian capital city of Abidjan on Monday. It ends on Friday, March 31, 2017.
She said the marine and coastal environment in Africa is currently facing a number of challenges such as overfishing and pollution. Ouloto wants the convention to find ways to utilise coastal and marine environment in a sustainable manner, for the benefit of both the present and future generations.
She said 80% of sea pollution is a result of human activities, such as fishing, navigation and urban waste disposal. According to her, the Abidjan Convention is not just a tool for protecting marine and coastal biodiversity, but it can also bring about social and economic development on the marine and coastal environment.
“It is important that COP12 strengthens the level of coordination, bearing in mind the multiple benefits we derive from the marine and coastal environment,” she said.
Ouloto called for the sustainable management of mangroves and for measures to stop illegal trade in plants and animals. “I am convinced that the results of this conference will change the way we look at oceans,” she added.
The executive secretary of the Abidjan Convention, Abou Bamba, said the convention has broken away from addressing normal issues to addressing developmental needs. He said COP12 would was addressing issues such as agro-industry, fisheries, oil and gas exploration and tourism. “It is time to apply the blue economy,” he added.
Chairperson of the bureau de convention, Lisolomzi Fikizolo of South Africa, said the convention has come at a time when it’s (the convention’s) revitalisation is coming to an end and that he was glad for the progress made during the three years of South Africa’s tenure as chair.
He said the convention has put in place the oil and gas protocol, the protocol on mangroves and the additional protocol on land-based activities.
Fikizolo said the issues of ocean governance has been high on the convention’s agenda for the last three years and will continue to be so in the years to come. He called on parties to the convention to introduce proper frameworks for ocean governance.
The conference is being held under the theme: “Integrated Ocean Management Policies in Africa”.
Adopted in the Ivorian capital in 1981, the Abidjan Convention is for cooperation in the protection, management and development of the marine and coastal environment of the Atlantic Coast of West, Central and Southern Africa.
Nigeria is a party to the convention.