Initiative Gets Thumbs Up!!!
The signing of new Abidjan Convention(ABC) Protocols as the major output of the opening Session ,of the on-going Plenipotentiaries meeting in Abidjan marked a great turning point in ocean and coastal environmental governance in the ABC area.
Dr,Habib El-Habr who spoke on behalf of the Coordinator, Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land Based Activities (GPA), UN Environment,Miss Inger Andersson, noted that the four protocols will definitively change the ocean governance in the continent.
“The Integrated Coastal Zone Management protocol, when applied, will promote integrated planning and coordinated development of the coastal zone including insular belts and river basins and maintain the integrity of insular belts, coastlines, and river basins for the benefit of present and future generations.
“Mangroves are a rich source of biological diversity and natural resources that support livelihoods. They are a crucial component of many human activities such as fishing and aquaculture, renewable energy production, extraction of raw materials, and tourism.
“The mangroves protocol will harmonize principles and set modalities for managing mangrove ecosystems and establish rules for environmental protection and conservation of mangroves within the geographic scope of the Abidjan Convention. This is a major step ahead as none of the Regional Seas Conventions has ever developed such an instrument.
“The same protocol will also define the framework and modalities for stakeholder participation in the decision-making process for managing the mangrove ecosystems; and define modalities for the review and approval of projects, programmmes, and other initiatives for the use of the mangrove ecosystems.
“The oil and gas and LBSA protocols will also play an equally important role in the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG14) in the area of the Abidjan Convention”
“This is your Convention and as Governments who benefit from its work, it is important that you honor your financial commitments to the Convention Trust Fund to ensure the Financial Sustainability of the Secretariat and its operation.
‘Delays in receiving the annual contributions as well as the accumulated arrears put in jeopardy the proper functioning of the Secretariat and hence impacting negatively on the service provided to you in addressing all the issues that I mentioned earlier”,Dr.Habib added.
Abou Bamba ,ABC’s Executive Secretary on his part noted ,“By signing these documents, you will make history as this is the first time ever that the three sub-regions of West, Central and Southern Africa will get together and agree on collective instruments to lay down the foundations for the sustainable management of marine and coastal resources and at the same time improve the livelihoods of coastal populations.
“By signing these instruments, you will confirm the end of the revitalization process of the Abidjan Convention which had started some nine years ago and position the Convention in the centre of the current ocean debate in Africa.”
The new protocols relate to: Pollution from land-based sources and activities; Environmental norms and standards related to offshore oil and gas activities; Integrated coastal zone management; and Sustainable mangrove management.
The Nigeria based electronic newsletter ,Environment News probed further on why one of the Protocols was named after Calabar and reported as follows:
The “Calabar Protocol on Sustainable Mangrove Management” was one of the four additional Protocols and Policy adopted and endorsed on Tuesday, July 2, 2019 by the Abidjan Convention in the Ivorian capital.
Others are the Grand Bassau Protocol on Pollution from Land-based Sources and Activities; Malabo Protocol on Environmental Standards and Guidelines for Offshore Oil and Gas Activities; and the Pointe Noire Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management.
Justifying why the Cross River State capital city deserved the honour, a member of the Nigerian delegation to the Abidjan Convention’s “Plenipotentiaries Meeting” holding from July 2 to 3, Mrs Cornelia Ibironke Adenuga, stated that besides the fact that the meeting to prepare the protocol first took place in Calabar, the city has the largest concentration of mangrove forests in the country’s Niger Delta region, and untainted with oil exploration activities.
Adenuga, a Deputy Director on Special Duties, Federal Ministry of Environment, added that Calabar has the largest mangrove in Africa and the third largest in the world.
“This swath of mangrove forests hosts some of the world’s iconic species of fishes, crabs, snails, oysters, red mangrove and Avicenia Species,” the official stated, adding that the communities living around the mangroves, particularly in Cross River State and the Niger Delta in general have been exposed to sustainable management practices that guarantees their livelihood as well as protect the environment.
Another member of the delegation,Ms. Kitakang Iya Joyce, said: “Calabar in Cross River State houses the most endangered / endemic species of wild animals such as Gorilla gorilla diehi popularly known as the Cross River Gorilla.”
Kitakang, a Forest Officer in the Forestry Department of the Federal Ministry of Environment, stated: “Mangroves are known to be areas of high biological productivity, habitats to many endangered species, and most importantly an important source of sustainable livelihood to community living around and dependent on them. The recent Global Assessment by the Inter-Governmental Science-Policy Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services put the value of the mangrove coastal ecosystem at $4500/km2/year, $3,500/Km2/year in the West and Central African region. However, the report also highlighted the current threat to this ecosystem.”
Adenuga and Kitakang emphasized that the adoption of the Abidjan Convention (full name: Convention on Cooperation for the Protection, Management and Development of the Marine Environment and Coastal Areas of West, Central and Southern African Region) was a demonstration of commitment by member countries to ensure that the mangrove ecosystem is managed and sustained to play its role for the benefits of present and future generations.
Africa’s Atlantic coast is rich in natural resources, biodiversity and marine ecosystems – one of the richest and most productive in the world. For example, West Africa’s coastal zone is home to 105 million people out of the 367 million in the region and generates 56% of the region’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
However, many natural and human factors such as pollution, climate change or population growth threaten an important number of fragile ecosystems. The objective of these protocols is to provide Member States with regional cooperation instruments aiming at improving the management of coastal zones and the marine environment.