West African city of Abidjan is set to become the epicenter of debate on the
Southeast Atlantic Ocean and adjoining coastal areas, when Conference Of
Parties (COP) to the Abidjan Convention meet for their 12th times, as its
importance and relevance was recently highlighted by the Government of Cote
d`Ivoire and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) at a joint press
Conference in Abidjan.
According to the Convention`s communication Officer Vanessa Ahouadjiro , “The 12th Conference Of Parties is a major event in the life of the convention that signals a new start or take off towards the Convention`s revitalization phase”.
In his address, Anne Desiree Ouloto, Cote d`Ivoire`s Minister of Sanitation, Environment and Sustainable Development stressed that the Convention is vitally important to her country and it was in the city of Abidjan that the convention was signed 36 years ago. “It is here that its headquarters is located but the themes it refers to are extremely relevant to Cote d`Ivoire and its people”, she added, highlighting issues such as coastal erosion and land-based pollution, while encouraging the media to play their part in educating the public and raising its awareness on issues related to the marine and coastal environment.
Abou Bamba, the Executive Secretary of the Convention, whose secretariat is provided by UN Environment, and the Environment Minister both stressed that the marine and coastal environment does not only present challenges but also offers opportunities. Hundreds of kilometers of lagoons in Cote d`Ivoire which are being cleaned under an ongoing sanitation plan were cited as examples, and therefore urged the people in general and the young in particular to take advantage of the economic prospects that the sustainable use of natural coastal resources can offer.
Ratified in 1984, the Abidjan Convention (The Convention on Cooperation in the Protection, Management and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Atlantic Coast of the West, Central and Southern Africa Region) covers a geographic area comprises of 22 countries, 19 of which have already ratified it. It constitute a unique institutional referential framework for all initiatives linked to the protection and conservation of the marine and coastal environment along Africa`s Atlantic seaboard, and to the sustainable development of the area`s resources.
A revitalization process begun in 2008 leading to the transfer of the Convention`s headquarters from Nairobi to Abidjan, the updating of its fundamental texts and the strengthening of collaboration with an increasing number of partners.
The Conference of Parties, the Conference highest decision-making body, meets every two to three years. Its 12th edition, under the theme of “Integrated Ocean management policies in Africa” will bring together participants from the world over, including scientists and representatives of inter-governmental organizations, United Nations agencies and environmental NGOs, in addition to the delegations representing the parties. It will also be attended by representatives of communities affected by the various phenomena including coastal erosion, unplanned coastal urbanization and marine pollution.
According to the communication officer, the Conference will begin with an expert segment from 27th to 29th March to be followed by the ministerial conference on 30thth and 31st March 2017.
Parallel to the official discussions, there will be debates on specific themes such as aquatic wild meat, coastal erosion, lagoon, oil and gas, clean energy and the blue economy, as well as exhibition stands in which organizations and institutions will present their activities to the public.