Abidjan Convention Adopts Decisions on Budget Increase and Blue Economy

cop1126 March 2014: The 11th Conference of the Parties (COP 11) to 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) agreed to accelerate the Convention's implementation and ensure the sustainable management of marine resources through increased financial and technical support.

COP 11, which took place from 17-21 March in Cape Town, South Africa, convened under the theme, ‘Promoting Blue Growth in Africa: Toward Sustainable Management of Marine Resources.' Speaking at the meeting, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), described the region's potential for the blue economy while cautioning that coastal and marine benefits “can only be shared under a regime of common ocean governance.” Parties discussed how applying green economy principles can contribute to cleaner coastal and marine environments and more jobs.

Decisions by parties included: developing a working group to study conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdictions (BBNJ); enhancing capacity for identifying ecologically or biologically significant marine areas (EBSAs); promoting south-south cooperation on capacity-building and technological exchange; and finalizing its 2015-2016 programme of work.

Parties also agreed to increase the Convention's biennial budget by 39 percent, following discussion on the need for parties to honor their financial obligations and best payment options.

South Africa announced its intent to make its marine research vessel available to parties free of charge for research activities, including ocean valuation. Nigeria will host the region's Emergency Coordination Centre for Marine Pollution.

The Convention, which has 16 members, is one of the African regional seas conventions administered by UNEP. The Convention commits countries to protect and manage their marine environment and coastal environment and to cooperate on coastal erosion, environmental impact assessment (EIA) and protected areas. The Convention further commits countries to take action on pollution, including dumping, exploration and exploitation of the seabed, land-based activities and ships.

COP 11 was preceded by the first meeting of the Convention's Ad Hoc Committee on Science and Technology. [UNEP Press Release] [Abidjan Convention Press Release] [Draft Decisions] [COP 11 Website] [Abidjan Convention Website]