Abidjan Convention and the National Environment Agency (NEA) have jointly
organized a two-day national capacity building workshop on environmental norms
and standards for oil and gas exploration in the Convention area.
The engagement seeks to provide consultation and information sharing between actors on national environmental issues and building a permanent and functional framework for consultation and exchange of national actors on coastal and marine environmental management.
It also provides opportunity to discuss current and emerging issues in managing coastal and marine environments specifically in sub-region.
Gambia`s focal point for the Abidjan Convention Momodou J. Suwareh said establishment of a regulatory framework for monitoring and surveillance of offshore oil and gas activities were followed by COP 9, in Accra, Ghana where contracting parties to the Abidjan Convention adopted important decisions to prevent and control pollution from offshore activities.
Mr. Suwareh revealed that during COP10 which was held in the Democratic Republic of Congo in November 2012, the contracting parties adopted Decision CP.10/8 on environmental standards for exploration and exploitation of mineral and mineral resources undertaken off the coasts of the State Parties.
The decision calls for the develop initiatives involving relevant international organizations such as IMO, UNEP, regional and sub-regional organizations and extractive industries to develop regional environmental standards to be met in the exploration and exploitation of mineral and mineral resources undertaken off the coasts of States Parties.
According to him, the Convention area straddles with three distinct ecosystems: Canary Current Large marine Eco-system (stretching from Morocco to Guinea), Guinea Current Large marine Ecosystem (stretching from Guinea Bissau to DRC), and Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (from Angola in the north southwards to the east of the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa). “These Ecosystems include deltas, mangroves, seagrass, meadows, wetlands, barriers and lagoons.”
Mr. Suwareh, who doubles as Executive Director of the National Environment Agency further disclosed that oil and gas extraction creates most of the energy and resources needed to run the society, but observed that it results to a range of present and future environmental and social costs, both direct and indirect which need to be balanced against the benefit they bring.
The oil and gas industry impacts on people and the environment through Climate Change, operations on land and at sea, through positive and negative impacts on national economies, and unregulated actions by the oil industry destroys habitats and damage biodiversity. “Oil spills at sea have damaged mangrove forests, coral reefs and fisheries,” he said.
He noted that the Extractive Industry Review (EIR) suggested poverty alleviation, effective social and environmental policies and respect for human rights as its broad policy requirement for the extractive sector.
He thanked the Secretariat of Abidjan Convention, UNEP and MAVA Foundation for their continuous support on behalf of The Gambia Government.