ABIDJAN 8 DEC 2015 – The Bureau of the Abidjan Convention Secretariat has called for the development of the five-year action plan on oceans and climate change.
The recommendation, one of several, came at the end of its mid-term meeting held 25- 27 November in Libreville, Gabon, and just ahead of the World Climate Summit in Paris, France.
This was the first meetings of the Bureau of the Eleventh Conference of Parties that took place in South Africa in March 2014.
The Bureau had asked the Convention Secretariat to invite signatory states to sit at a panel on Oceans Day that would convene on the sidelines of the Summit. South Africa has been asked to take the concerns of the Abidjan Convention countries regarding climate change to this world stage. Many of the coastlines of these countries are low lying, exposing them to coastal erosion, flooding, violent storms and destruction of coastal ecosystems – many of which are associated with climate change.
The Bureau also advised the signatory states to focus on the Blue Economy, a concept which suggests the long-term strategy to grown the marine and maritime sectors in a sustainable way. In Europe this has created millions of jobs and hundreds of millions of euros in earnings, yearly.
In this respect, the Bureau had asked South Africa to lend its experience in building an ocean economy during COP 12. South Africa has unfolded an ambitious programme in building its ocean economy, called Operation Pakhisa, to drive sustained economic growth, food security, poverty eradication, job creation and environmental sustainability.
Partnerships are an important element of the Convention Secretariat’s work. Therefore, the Bureau encouraged the Secretariat to conclude negotiations, under its 2016-2017 work plan, with the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety; the MAVA Foundation, and USAID on the WABiCC project to support coastal resilience to climate change in West Africa. It also recommended that the Convention Secretariat sign a memorandum of understanding between the Global Initiative for West, Central and Southern Africa (GI WACAF Project) and the Abidjan Convention.
The project is a partnership between the International Maritime Organization and IPIECA, the global oil and gas industry association for environmental and social issues. The project aim is to build countries’ capacity to deal with offshore oil spills.
Calling for greater execution of South-South cooperation pacts, the Bureau recommended that the Secretariat take an overarching view of the present state of implementation of agreements on their marine and coastal environment. It requested the Secretariat to finalize outstanding additional protocol agreements that have been developed and to submit them to the Contracting Parties for signature. Furthermore, it recommended that the Secretariat assist countries in developing their policies on integrated sustainable management of oceans and coastal environments.
Turning to institutional concerns, the Bureau urged countries to continue paying their contributions to the Trust Fund and support the Secretariat’s Reserve Fund on a voluntary basis, especially by countries that are up-to-date with their contributions.
The Bureau also recommended that Contracting Parties to the Convention change the name of the head of the Convention Secretariat from regional coordinator to executive secretary. The title change would carry more weight at official meetings and bolster fundraising efforts.
The Bureau also called for an improved quality in translation of meeting and other reports and to make these available to the signatory states well ahead of planned meetings.
The Bureau approved the Secretariat’s 2016-2017 workplan and the proposed change in the organization chart. The workplan will focus on the evaluation of ecosystems and habitats; implementation of programmes designed to reduce or prevent coastal and marine environmental degradation; updating of the Abidjan Convention and its related protocol, improving coordination of activities, and bolstering institutions to ensure implementation of the Convention; and utilizing information communications technology to exchange information with and among communities, raise public awareness, empower communities, and build-capacity.
Additionally, the Bureau encourages UNEP to establish a transitional mechanism for the Secretariat to ensure proper operations during the test phase of the new UNEP UMOJA system, a United Nations administrative tool.
The Bureau also recommends that the Secretariatassist countries in developing their policies in an integrated and sustainable management of oceans and coasts.
Abidjan Convention COP12
The Bureau confirmed that the next Convention of Parties would take place in Banjul, The Gambia, from 27-31 March 2017. In this regard, it urged Gambia to establish a national organizing committee for the event, and suggested a regional committee also be set up comprising the Convention Secretariat, Gambia, Cameroon, and South Africa. The Bureau approved the Convention’s theme: Integrated Policy Management of Oceans and Coast.
Moreover, the Bureau approved asked that the regional organizing committee approve the COP12 timetable and budget initiated by the Secretariat. It suggests that the Secretariat begin preparations for drafting a memorandum of understanding between The Gambia and UNEP as part of the COP12 preparations.