West & Central African Conservationists Launch new Effort to Save Aquatic Wildlife; Day 3

West & Central African Conservationists Launch new Effort to Save Aquatic Wildlife; Day 3
July 27, 2018 3:07 pm News

Building further on the momentum of Days 1 and 2, Day 3 got underway with the usual recap of the previous day’s activities. This quickly segued into a presentation by the Executive Secretary of the Abidjan Convention, Abou Bamba, on the structure and function of the Partnership. He introduced the Terms of Reference for the Steering Group proposed to manage the activities of the Partnership noting “We will set up a Steering Group to ensure efficient and effective coordination after this workshop and also play as a monitoring and evaluation mechanism for the Partnership. This group will lead the setup of different working groups to work on data generation, gender, species listing and other relevant and targeted issues. These working groups will bring scientific evidence and credibility to the decisions of the partnership.” He went on to endorse the establishment of an interim group that will work define and set up the membership of the final Steering Group.

The proposed structure of the Partnership is:

  • Secretariat: To manage the partnership, handle communications and administrative issues
  • Steering committee: Provide technical and scientific support to the Secretariat
  • Participants: Commit to pursuing the objectives of the Partnership
  • Working group: Handling the implementation of projects and activities defined in the Action Plan

In the following session, the group discussed the issues of funding and budgeting. Although Mr. Bamba shared that there is currently no dedicated budget for the Partnership, participants called for a more creative approach to financial support than the traditional donor route, such as engagement with the private sector. Ebobola Tshiba from Gabon said the Partnership should learn from his country, where private companies have been successfully engaged to support and fund conservation activities, stressing the need to for more public-private partnerships for conservation.

For the Partnership to be effective and, more importantly, to raise awareness about the issues of threatened and/or protected species that underpin it, a clear communications strategy/plan is essential. To catalyze the development of this Strategy David Aduama, WA BiCC’s Communications Specialist, presented an outline of possible communications structures and tools for consideration. The objective of this session was to start defining the communications objectives and needs of the Partnership including target audiences and key messages and to gather inputs to inform the drafting of a communications strategy. A breakout session followed where participants were tasked to provide inputs on both internal and external communications structures. A key outcome was the agreement on the need to develop a logo that represents the Partnership that will be used across all communications products. Participants also agreed that the Communication Strategy needs to target traditional chiefs and other local leaders and authorities who often have a strong influence on those communities who are directly involved with aquatic species consumption. The use of drama and local language radio spots to reach local communities was proposed as specific tools that can be integrated into the Strategy. Organizing awards and prizes for excellency to in conservation efforts was noted as a proven incentive to raise awareness and generate local interest.

The intensive workshop concluded with a closing ceremony chaired by Mrs.  Kaba Nassere, the Director of Cabinet for Cote d’Ivoire’s Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development on behalf of the Minister. Prior to the official closing remarks Anthe Komi, the CITES Focal Point for Togo, presented a declaration (found at the end of this post) on behalf of the participants validating the five recommendations from the workshop. He said the participants approved the formal creation of a Partnership with a mission “To directly support implementation of the African Common Strategy on Combatting Illegal Exploitation and Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora in Africa by addressing the issue of trade, capture, consumption and other uses of aquatic species, including threatened and/or protected aquatic species across West, Central and Southern Africa, through coordinated, collaborative and effective action at local, regional and international levels”.

In closing remarks Joanna Toole from OceanCare said the week has been an important milestone for the development of the Partnership as there has been a real sense of collaboration and co-creation and ownership of what ‘we at OceanCare hope will be an effective Partnership to address the illegal use and trade in aquatic species.

“It’s great to be able to think about how we can add value to existing initiatives on protection of aquatic species. We now have a starting point for a very clear roadmap for the Partnership, which is very timely given the increasing threats facing aquatic species in West Africa and across the world’ stated WA BiCC’s Chief of Party Stephen Kelleher said in his closing remarks underscoring that ‘on behalf of our funder USAID, we are very proud to have made our contribution to this process.”. Abou Bamba added that the workshop marked a historic moment for several reasons including that it was the first-time governments and NGOs have met to discuss issues related to aquatic wildlife and that this unique Partnership was strengthened with a declaration agreed by all the participants including the national, inter-governmental and civil society organizations present.

Formally closing the workshop, Mrs.  Kaba Nassere said the issue of Aquatic ETPs is of capital importance given the increasing loss in aquatic species. The reduction of fish stocks due to human and industrial activities is forcing communities to turn towards other aquatic species for subsistence. “Côte d’Ivoire fully endorses the recommendations of your meeting and will support the partnership that has been set up to address the issue of threatened aquatic wildlife and saving our natural heritage.”


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