‘Gambia committed to fulfilling her Abidjan Convention obligations’

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Lamin Komma, Senior Program Officer responsible for Coastal and Marine Environment Programme at the National Environment Agency has disclosed that COP12 of the Abidjan Convention is an occasion for participants to network and share information on marine environmental issues in Africa.

The conference, he said is also a place where partners of the convention share information on their projects, publications, etc. through exhibition booths during the conference.

In an exclusive interview with this paper at a side event, he revealed that The Gambia became a signatory to the Abidjan Convention on 23rd March 1981 and ratified on 6th December 1984 and since then, he said the Gambia has been so committed in fulfilling her obligations towards the goals of the convention.

With the theme “Integrated Oceans Management Policies in Africa”, Komma said COP12 meeting is to ensure the implementation of the Convention and its protocols, and it will mark the end of the revitalization process of the Abidjan Convention initiated in 2010 and launch its active phase.

According to the head of Gambian delegation, the theme for this year has given a renewed spirit to focus on moving further with enormous courage and enthusiasm in the sustainable and sound management of our shared natural resources for the benefit of present and future generations in a manner that is consistent with the overall goal of sustainable development. “As Contracting Parties to the Abidjan Convention, we are united and committed to addressing the myriad of challenges facing our shared environment – ocean storm surges, coastal erosion, destruction of coastal and marine ecosystems, resource exploitation, habitat degradation, poverty, etc. We have also made tremendous strides in putting in place legislative regimes and national and regional programmes to address these challenges”. SPO Komma pointed out.

On the home front, Komma pointed out that The Gambia has an 80 Kilometers long Open Atlantic Coastline and 200 Kilometers of Sheltered Coast along the River Gambia which is dominated by extensive mangrove systems and mud flats. With a continental shelf area of about 4,000 km2 and approximately 10,500 km2 of Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), he disclosed that The Gambia is believed to be particularly rich in terms of abundance fish species and diversity. This rich resource-base, he said offers great potential to make a substantial contribution to the country’s socio-economic development, if fish resources are managed sustainably.

In order to meet this objective, he informed this paper that the Government of The Gambia, has introduced The Gambia Incorporated……VISION 2020 development programme in which it has commit herself to conserve and promote the rational use of the nation’s natural resources and environment for the benefit of present and future generations in a manner that is consistent with the overall goal of sustainable development at all levels.

VISION 2020 he pointed out is in harmony with the Gambia Environment Action Plan (GEAP), other natural resource sector policies as well as the Multilateral Environmental Agreements. “Therefore, we should take advantage of the available opportunities to implement activities using approaches that are mutually beneficial and synergetic, and can contribute to the overall objectives of the Abidjan Convention work programme”. He advised.

Going further, he added that The Gambia’s marine and coastal environment has international importance because of its strategic location, route for straddling marine stocks and the like, and therefore calls for sound environmental management that requires continuous appropriate management to ensure their proper and sustainable conservation. He appealingly noted that the effective administration of conservation and environmental protection requires enforcement of the legislation in hand, enhanced and strengthened consultation procedures, and the provision of appropriate expertise to stakeholders and adequate resourcing.

Furthermore, SPO Komma revealed that the Contracting Parties meetings aims to ensure the enforcement of this Convention and the Protocols thereto, taking decisions necessary for effective implementation of the Convention, adopting, revising and amending, as appropriate, in accordance with Article 29 provisions, the Annexes to this Convention and related protocols, and making recommendations for the adoption of additional protocols or amendments to this Convention or to its related Protocols, in accordance with the provisions of Articles 24 and 25.

It also aims to take stock of the steps taken to control pollution and preserve marine and coastal biodiversity in the area of application of the Convention, review and make decisions on cooperation activities to be undertaken under this Convention and its protocols, including financial and institutional implications, and finally to encourage the Parties to get involved in the development of integrated marine areas and coastal zone management policies for their populations. Komma noted.

During the COP12, he disclosed that draft decisions to be adapted include Work Program 2017-2020, Financial issues, Modification of the text of the Abidjan Convention, Work of the Convention on the interface between soft waters, marine and coastal ecosystems, Sustainable management of mangrove ecosystems in the zone of influence of the Abidjan Convention, and Environmental standards for exploration and exploitation activities related to oil and gas off the coasts of the States Parties.

Also to be adapted according to Komma, are the Integrated management policy for coasts and oceans, Creation of the Guinea Current Commission by a protocol of the Abidjan Convention, Revitalization of the Action plan for the protection and the development of the marine environment and coastal zones of the South-Eastern Atlantic, Climate change, Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs), and Conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity for zones located beyond national jurisdictions are among a longlist of decisions to be adopted during the sessions.

It could be recalled that the Twelfth Meeting of the Contracting Parties (COP12) to the Convention for 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 (Abidjan Convention) is taking place in Abidjan, Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, from 27 to 31 March 2017. 

Author: Sheikh Alkinky Sanyang in Abidjan
Source: Picture: Lamin Komma