Africa’s Atlantic Coast Gets a Boost for Sustainable Management

Africa’s Atlantic Coast Gets a Boost for Sustainable Management
July 15, 2019 10:22 am News

The Plenipotentiaries to the Abidjan Convention met on July 2nd  2019 in Abidjan for what participants soundly agreed was a very successful gathering, taking unprecedented steps towards the conservation and sustainable management of marine and coastal ecosystems from Morocco to South Africa.

Under the chairmanship of Cote d’Ivoire’s Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, his counterpart Ministers, or their representatives, from 18 Parties to the Convention signed four Protocols designed to improve the management of their respective and collective ocean and coastal zones.

Africa’s Atlantic coast – one of the richest and most productive in the world – contains an abundance of natural resources including globally unique biodiversity and marine ecosystems that contribute to the livelihoods of millions of African citizens. West Africa’s coastal zone alone, itself home to 105 million people, generates 56% of the region’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). But many natural and human factors such as pollution, climate change, extraction of natural resources, deforestation, forest degradation, anarchic development and population growth, each with its own negative impacts on the resource base, combine together to create a very dangerous mix which, if left unchecked, pose a threat to prosperity and quality of life in West Africa.

Acknowledging the urgency with which these threats must be addressed, the Abidjan Convention is playing its role and taking the necessary steps to provide countries with the tools and information they need to safeguard these fragile ecosystems and the people and biodiversity that depend on them. The four Protocols, named after the places in the region where the initial steps were taken to develop them, address a range of urgent and critical issues.

A man making a speech.
Abou Bamba, Abidjan Convention Executive Secretary-General.


In his opening remarks, Mr. Abou Bamba, Executive Secretary of the Abidjan Convention, stated: “We have a political, legal and technical tool to protect the coastal zones of West, Central and Southern Africa, which is the Abidjan Convention. This is the first time ever for the three sub regions to come together for this purpose. It’s about time we make this happen. I want to thank the American people, particularly USAID through the WA BiCC project, UN Environment and all of our donors for their support in the development of these Protocols.”

Speaking on behalf of UN Environment Programme, Dr. Habib El-Habr noted that: “The Integrated Coastal Zone Management Protocol, when applied, will promote integrated planning and coordinated development of the coastal zone including insular belts and river basins and maintain the integrity of insular belts, coastlines, and river basins for the benefit of present and future generations.”

A man signing a document.
The signing of the Protocols.


The Pointe-Noire Protocol provides sustainable approaches to Integrated Coastal Zone Management, or ICZM.

The Calabar Protocol provides a technical framework to ensure the sustainable management of mangroves.

The Grand-Bassam Protocol advances efforts to regulate the land and atmospheric sources of pollution to tackle the staggering fact that the disposal of solid and liquid waste at sea, often without treatment, accounts for 80% of marine pollution.

The Malabo Protocol establishes minimum standards to combat the risks associated with pollution caused by oil and gas activities.

The Abidjan Convention is a core regional partner of the West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change (WA BiCC) Program, which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Convention and WA BiCC staff have been working together since 2016 to develop the Protocols on ICZM and Sustainable Mangrove Management through technical assessments and a series of national consultations across coastal West Africa to ensure that these instruments address national concerns and build on existing efforts and approaches. WA BiCC has now proceeded to implement these two Protocols in ‘Learning Landscapes’ in Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire.

A room filled with people.
A cross-section of participants.





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