A BLUE CRISIS
If crisis had a colour in recent decades, it would be blue. Africa’s deep blue treasure is plagued by a myriad of sustainability and security threats, each of which highlight the need to take more stringent measures towards regulation of human activities in the maritime domain.From the mounting menace of Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported fishing (IUU), depleting fisheries and degradation of ecosystems to the ubiquitous threat of plastic pollution, the continent’s oceans face enormous challenges with repercussions that transcend coastlines and coastal communities. Without collaborative efforts towards ocean governance such as effective maritime regulation and enforcement, the oceans and resources therein cannot be channelled towards strengthening food security and spurring economic advancement on a continent that needs it the most.
The charts illustrate the broader dimensions of two of the critical concerns discussed above: declining fisheries and plastic pollution.
GLOBAL & CONTINENTAL RECOGNITION
Across the globe, there is an increasing recognition of the impact of healthy oceans on people and the economy. There has been a clarion call for greater efforts at conserving and managing the resources of the ocean to ensure sustainability. At the fore of this call is Goal 14 of the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 14) which recognises that oceans present vast economic, environmental and social benefits that contribute substantially towards sustainable development.
Recent meetings and resolutions by the United Nations General Assembly have called on States to cooperate towards the effective conservation and management of ocean resources and biodiversity. More specific to the African continent, one of the priorities of the African Union’s (AU) Agenda 2063 is to harness Africa’s blue economy towards accelerated economic growth and development. The Sustainable Blue Economy Conference held in Nairobi, Kenya (November 2018) focused on galvanising this agenda by urging States to deepen collaboration with stakeholders to tap into the vast potential of the blue economy while ensuring it preservation through sustainable policies and actions.
BRINGING HOPE TO AFRICA
The Centre’s HOPE (Healthy Oceans for People and Economy) initiative is aimed at advancing socio-economic development and food security on the African continent for current and future generations through effective conservation, management and sustainable use of the vast wealth of ocean resources. Anchored on three pillars as depicted below, HOPE points out a critical path to creating a blue economy on which livelihoods can thrive.
OUR MULTI-PRONGED APPROACH
The Centre, working with partners and stakeholders, will adopt a multi-pronged approach (highlighted in the chart below) to achieving each of these broader objectives. From strategic-level engagements to a media drive, the HOPE initiative will address pertinent maritime concerns such as IUU, plastic pollution and the development of a thriving blue economy. Each element of the approach will involve:
- Creating an awareness of the importance of Africa’s maritime estate to food security and development;
- Bringing to the fore the significant threats to our seas and the impact on livelihoods and economic well-being;
- Highlighting the roles of individuals, groups and institutions in addressing these threats;
- Building the capacity of individuals, groups and institutions to effectively address threats to the continent’s fisheries industry and;
- Promoting the investment capacity and potential of the blue economy through multi-approaches including public private partnerships;
- Pointing out the pathways towards building a resilient blue economy to spur food security, economic growth and development.