Nairobi Convention Western Indian Ocean Newsletter

The Nairobi Convention is pleased to present the latest Western Indian Ocean (WIO) Newsletter. Below find updates on what countries in the WIO region were doing to protect, manage, and develop their coastal and marine environments in 2018. And keep reading to find out what’s coming up in 2019!

This newsletter focuses mainly on 2018 activities under the WIOSAP, one of the Nairobi Convention’s key projects. Activities under the Convention’s other main project, SAPPHIRE, will be expanded in 2019. Click here for background information on the Convention, WIOSAP and SAPPHIRE.

We welcome your feedback—email: unenvironment-nairobi-convention@un.org to give us your thoughts.

1. New Developments on Management Tools in the region

a. Promoting Marine Protected Areas as a tool for management in the WIO Region

The declaration of marine protected areas (MPAs) has long been considered a key tool in the fight to conserve the world’s marine biodiversity. The WIO countries have recognized their utility by identifying and declaring several MPAs since 1964 through 2018. However, assessments of effectiveness show that many MPAs in the region lack the funding, human resources, skills and equipment to fulfill their functions adequately. MPAs establishment and effective management will therefore be a central tenet to enable countries to deliver on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 (Life under water), especially Targets 14.2 and 14.5. Target 14.2 calls for the sustainable management and protection of marine and coastal ecosystems., while Target 14.5 states that countries shall conserve at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas by 2020.

Conservation Areas in the Western Indian Ocean region ©Nairobi Convention, 2019.

The WIOSAP Project is supporting countries of the region to establish baselines for these two SDG 14 Targets through the production of an MPAs and Critical Habitats Outlook. The Outlook will support the countries to establish baselines and include assessment metrics to track their progress in increasing the spatial extents of national MPAs from the current 2.4% to 10% by 2020, thus achieving SDG 14 target 14.5.

The cover page of the MPAs Outlook ©Nairobi Convention, 2019.

The Outlook will be an important decision-making support tool, especially in identifying areas requiring protection or in the establishment and implementation of a national and transboundary network of MPAs. Additionally, the WIOSAP Project will support the development of management plans for at least five key critical coastal and marine habitats. The project will also reinforce the regional MPA network to help mitigate habitat loss and climate change impacts. Finally, WIOSAP will work with the relevant communities to help reduce pressure on critical habitats. Altogether, such efforts will promote marine resource conservation and management, thus moving countries towards achieving their SDG 14.2 and 14.5 Targets.

b. Capacity Building in Marine Spatial Planning as tool for management in the WIO region

Over the last 20 years, rapid population growth and economic expansion in the WIO region have increased pressure on coastal and marine resources. Meanwhile, different sectors have been managed on an individual basis, resulting in a lack of coordination in decisions affecting the management of these resources. It is important to apply a harmonized approach in the development and utilization of resources and space among all stakeholders, which can be achieved through proper marine spatial planning (MSP) that accommodates all competing needs.

Participants of the Marine Spatial Training in Mombasa ©Nairobi Convention, 2018.

At the 9th Conference of Parities (COP), states adopted two major decisions (CP8/10 and CP9/10) supporting the development of capacity-building programmes on MSP as a tool for sustainable ocean/blue economy. Through the WIOSAP and SAPPHIRE projects, the Nairobi Convention is supporting the preparation of MSP for at least five key marine and coastal areas. The Convention is also working with partners to develop technical capacity to support implementation of MSP across the region.

A high-level workshop was held in Seychelles in 2017 to sensitize Contracting Parties and partners on Area Based Planning tools, including MSP, in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ), with technical support from Blue Solutions. In September and October 2018, the Nairobi Convention and partners organized MSP training workshops in Kenya and Mauritius for over 80 participants. The workshops provided a platform to examine MSP practices. Participants used their critical knowledge to create tailor-made MSP applications that included elements on governance frameworks, stakeholder engagement and spatial zoning.

The WIOSAP and SAPPHIRE projects will work with contracting parties to mainstream MSP into policy and decision-making processes and support on the ground demonstration of MSP.

Participants follow the discussions during the Marine Spatial Planning workshop in Mombasa ©Nairobi Convention, 2018.

2. Operationalizing WIOSAP

a. Creation of Regional Task Forces (RTFs)

The WIOSAP project will fund several demonstration projects in pre-selected sites across WIO countries in order to reduce stress on marine and coastal ecosystems from land-based sources and activities (LBSA). To ensure effective regional collaboration, shared learning and quality control of the products to be delivered through the Project, three RTFs (on Sustainable Management of Critical Habitats; Water Quality, and River Flows) have been established.

At the RTFs meeting on 12 to 13 December 2018, members adopted the RTF's Terms of Reference (TORs) and selected the Task Force Leaders. The RTFs also reviewed and recommended concepts for demonstration projects. Finally, they discussed the development and production of planned project outputs, toolkits, and guidelines.

The RTFs leadership

c. Development of Proposals for Demonstration Projects

By December 2018, five countries had recommended and submitted 13 concepts to WIOSAP's Project Implementation Unit (PMU). Other countries will submit their nationally-reviewed concepts in early 2019. The PMU reviewed the 13 concepts and recommended all for full proposal development, noting that some recommended concepts required major technical input. The Nairobi Convention Secretariat will work with proponents of these concepts on addressing this requirement. The recommended concepts will now proceed to full proposal development by the respective proponents.

A key factor noted during the meeting was that the linkage of WIOSAP and SAPPHIRE projects presents a good opportunity for the WIO region to demonstrate a ‘Source to Sea’ approach towards the management of coastal and marine ecosystems, since WIOSAP has a focus on land-based activities and their impact, while SAPPHIRE has a focus on the sea-based aspects of the marine environment. A strategic implementation of the approach would enhance both projects’ impact in the WIO region.

c. Promoting Synergies between WIOSAP and SAPPHIRE Projects

In order to promote collaboration between the WIOSAP and SAPPHIRE projects, a joint meeting of focal points for both projects was held on 14 December 2018 in Maputo, Mozambique. Participants identified several opportunities for linkages and outlined several cross-cutting thematic areas that have the potential to promote synergies between WIOSAP and SAPPHIRE projects, such as MSP; regional standards for marine water quality; and ecosystem economic valuation, among others.

A key factor noted during the meeting was that the linkage of WIOSAP and SAPPHIRE projects presents a good opportunity for the WIO region to demonstrate a ‘Source to Sea’ approach towards the management of coastal and marine ecosystems, since WIOSAP has a focus on land-based activities and their impact, while SAPPHIRE has a focus on the sea-based aspects of the marine environment. A strategic implementation of the approach would enhance both projects’ impact in the WIO region.

3. Capacity Building in WIO

a. Building impactful leadership for good governance of marine and coastal environment

The WIO region is experiencing an unprecedented scale and pace of economic developments, many of which impact critical coastal and marine resources. There are opportunities to adopt a sustainable development pathway focused on environmental protection and risk assessment. This requires dynamic and visionary leadership.

The Nairobi Convention (through the WIOSAP Project) and partners conducted a series of workshops on senior leadership in the management of coastal and marine resources in the WIO. Three workshops have been held over the last 2 years in Seychelles, Kenya, and Tanzania, bringing together a total of 63 senior government officials. The workshops aimed at building the capacity of senior leaders responsible for overseeing policy and managing environmental resources. Such officials can significantly influence decision-making within their respective nations.

It is expected that the support will lead to the development of the capacity required to a) effectively implement the various components of the WIOSAP Project and b) manage and mitigate the impacts of land-based activities on the coastal and marine environment.

Participants at the Workshop on Science-Policy Interface ©Nairobi Convention, 2018.

b. Strengthening the Science-Policy Interface in the WIO Region

Though the ‘ocean asset base’ of the WIO region is estimated at US$333.8 billion (Obura, 2017) , its productivity is rapidly declining due to the impacts of human activities and global warming. Proper science-based policies are key for improved conservation and management of coastal and marine ecosystems in the region.

The Nairobi Convention established a science-policy platform to facilitate dialogue between the Contracting Parties and experts. During the dialogues, stakeholders share experiences to foster high-level political awareness and consensus on priority policy. The platform is used to explore innovative policy options and the adaptive management strategies required for science-based decision-making on topical issues, and its policy recommendations may be used as a basis for key decisions of the Contracting Parties.

The WIOSAP project has supported Science to Policy forums since 2016, the most recent in Durban in July 2018. Policy recommendations from the platform contributed to several decisions of the COP 9 on items such as ‘Management of marine litter and municipal wastewater in the Western Indian Ocean’; ‘Climate change adaptation and mitigation’; ‘Marine spatial planning for the blue and ocean economy’; ‘Development of marine protected areas and critical habitats outlooks and the impact of anthropogenic underwater noise and shipping activities on marine animals and prioritization of projects relating thereto’. In 2019, there will be a joint Science to Policy Platform established to support implementation of both the SAPPHIRE and WIOSAP projects.

c. Workshop on Protecting WIO from Land-Based Sources and Activities

In March 2010, the COP adopted the Protocol for the Protection of the Coastal and Marine Environment of the Western Indian Ocean from Land-based Sources and Activities (LBSA Protocol). Madagascar, Mozambique, Seychelles and Tanzania have already ratified the protocol, while several other countries are still working on the ratification process. The Protocol identifies various sources of land-based pollution, including point sources, diffuse sources, and transboundary pollution, among others.

A workshop hosted by Mozambique from 10 to 11 December 2018 identified several linkages of the Protocol to WIOSAP activities, whose overall goal is to reduce land-based stresses. By the end of the two days, the workshop had raised awareness on the global and regional processes relevant to combating LBSA; increased shared learning through national level interventions from different countries; heightened understanding of tools to combat land-based sources of pollution; and formulated recommendations on addressing common challenges related to such sources.

Upcoming Events

  1. Partnership Meeting with Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Commissions in the Western Indian Ocean Region: 11 to 12 April 2019 in South Africa. The meeting seeks to establish working relationships with RECs, Fisheries bodies and regional scientific bodies in the WIO region to support and facilitate regional economic integration, promote sustainable development and governance in the member states.........read more
  2. WIO Regional Science to Policy Workshop to be held in Mauritius on 27 to 29 May 2019... read more
  3. Nairobi Convention has partnered with WIOMSA and the University of Mauritius in organising the 11th WIOMSA Scientific Symposium to be held in Mauritius on 1 to 6 July 2019. Read more

Meet the Staff


1. Obura, D. (2017). Reviving the Western Indian Ocean Economy : Actions for a Sustainable Future. Gland: Worldwide Fund for Nature International.

Email: unenvironment-nairobi-convention@un.org https://www.unenvironment.org/nairobiconvention/
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