The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Tuesday started a national consultation, to review the Abidjan Convention, a legal tool aimed at protecting the marine environment and making it more responsive in managing coastal resources of the sub-region.
Dubbed the ‘National Consultations on Action Plans for Additional Protocols to the Abidjan Convention,’ the three-day meeting would enable stakeholders from academia, research institutions, Ministries, Department and Agencies, civil society, among others to discuss the Action Plans of six additional Protocols that had been adopted in recent times.
The Abidjan Convention is a legal tool for cooperation in the protection and development of the marine environment and coastal region of the West, Central, and Southern Africa.
The six additional protocol instruments developed are the Protocol on Pollution from Land Sources and Activities (LBSA), Protocol on Environmental Standards Associated with Offshore Oil and Gas Activities, Protocol on Integrated Coastal Management (GIZC), Protocol on Sustainable Mangrove Management (Mangrove), and Regional Integrated Ocean Management Policy (IOM).
The Convention within its framework, coordinated the development of additional protocols for the region, which was adopted in 2019, and further developed action plans to operationalize the protocols by respective countries.
Dr Henry Kwabena Kokofu, Executive Director, EPA, reiterated the importance of the coastal zone to the socio-economic development of humankind and the ecological and environmental services.
He said especially, mangroves, marshy areas, estuaries, and the beachfront for instance provide valuable services such as water purification, flood regulation, and carbon dioxide sequestration for the survival of mankind.
However, anthropogenic activities such as illicit dumping of solid and liquid waste, reclamation of wetlands for development projects, shoreline erosion as well as climate change had resulted in the degradation of coastal resources.
Also, shoreline erosion was impacting habitats for marine turtles and tourism while some coastal habitats have been eroded by invasive species, which was plaguing most West African countries.
Dr Kokofu said the six action plans would hopefully boost the legal framework that governs the coastline of the region.
“The action plans would engender coordination and synergize policies, regulations, and initiatives in member states and strengthen governance in the management of shared resources” he explained.
Mrs Cynthia Asare Bediako, Chief Director, Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation, described the Abidjan Convention Region as among one of the highly productive and diverse ecosystems that supported fisheries, coastal tourism, industries, minerals, ports, oil extraction, among others, and therefore, needed to be protected.
She also acknowledged that Ghana had benefited considerably from signing onto the convention, particularly in areas of capacity building, strengthening in coastal zone management, and the development of Ghana’s Oil Spill Contingency and Coastal Sensitivity Atlas, management of invasive weeds.
She, therefore, expressed Ghana’s commitment to the course of cooperating in protecting and managing the collectively shared marine and coastal resources within the region and urged participants to make useful inputs into the protocols.
Mr Barthelemy Batieno, Coordinator, Regional Protocols and Agreements for Coastal Management, Abidjan Secretariat, who spoke on behalf of Mr Abou Bamba, the Executive Secretary of the Abidjan Convention, said Ghana’s consultation meeting formed part of the overall framework of modernizing and updating the cooperation tools of the whole Convention.
The consultation, therefore, marks the beginning of a long process of appropriation and nationalization of the major axes of the strategic development planning of the States Parties to the Abidjan Convention.
He explained that concurrently with the protocol development process, the Secretariat of the Abidjan Convention, at the request of the Contracting Parties, undertook the development of action plans for each protocol and regional policy to make them operational.
In addition, the World Bank in its last report of March 2019 estimated the losses linked to the degradation of marine and coastal resources in countries such as Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Senegal, and Togo at $ 3.8 billion.
“We need to change the paradigm and the way we consume by emphasizing the sustainability of our actions and investments”, Mr Batieno cautioned.
He announced that Congo would host the 13th Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Abidjan Convention in September 2021, during which these action plans being reviewed by countries, would be adopted.