11th Biennial Conference of Parties (CoP11) to the Abidjan Convention gets underway

17 March 2014


The Department of Environmental Affairs’ Director General, Ms Nosipho Ngcaba, today, 17 March 2014, opened the 11th biennial Conference of Parties (CoP11) to the Abidjan Convention in Cape Town, South Africa. The conference, which continues till Friday 21 March 2014 under the theme, Promoting Blue Growth in Africa: Towards Sustainable Management of Marine Resources marks a milestone in the revitalisation process of the Convention that encompasses 22 coastal nations of the Western, Central and Southern Africa continues.

Delivering the opening remarks on behalf of the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Ms Edna Molewa, Ms Ngcaba highlighted the relevance and importance of the blue economic growth in the African continent, particularly within the coastal African states. She told the delegates that “as African countries we are united and committed to address the myriad of challenges facing our beloved continent – poverty, under development, environmental degradation are but some of these challenges.  We have also made tremendous strides in putting in place legislative regimes and national and regional programmes to address these challenges”.  

Countries along Africa’s Atlantic Ocean could make hundreds of millions of dollars annually if they collectively managed their dwindling marine resources.  In order to address such challenges, such as  marine pollution , effective engagement between African nations is pivotal, hence 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.

Africa as a continent has great blue growth potential, wherein efficient management and sustainable use of marine resources could guarantee a brighter future for the continent’s teeming coastal population. Ngcaba also highlighted that “the oceans and coasts around Africa offer enormous potential opportunities - yet untapped potential. It is absolutely crucial that we embrace this paradigm shift to sustainable utilisation of our oceanic resources and ensure that the benefits from economic activities translate into real benefits for our populations -improving their livelihoods.”

The growing exploration and exploitation of offshore and onshore oil and gas has given impetus to the urgent need for joint ocean management and governance of the South-East Atlantic nations. Pollution of the oceans, coasts and near ocean inland waters is a worrying issue, which the Convention intends to effectively address. Due to the fluid nature of the ocean, coastal and marine industries cannot be isolated from the watersheds and ocean ecosystems in which they operate. Economic activities near the sea and even far away have damaged the integrity of oceans and coasts. Today more than 30% of the world’s fish-stocks are over-exploited, depleted or recovering from depletion and over 400 oxygen-poor “dead zones” exist in the world as a result of heavy pollution. The decline in the ecological health and economic productivity of the world’s oceans can be reversed by shifting to a bluer sustainable economic paradigm in which human wellbeing and social equity are improved, while environmental risks and ecological scarcities are reduced.

The Abidjan Convention covers the marine environment, coastal zones and related inland waters within the jurisdiction of the States of the West, Central and Southern African Region, from Mauritania to South Africa inclusive, which have become Contracting Parties to the Convention. The Convention is a comprehensive umbrella agreement for the protection and management of the marine and coastal areas. It lists the sources of pollution that require control as: ships, dumping, land-based activities, exploration and exploitation of the seabed, and pollution from or through the atmosphere.

The CoP11 conference is taking place in two parts: marine environment experts segment from 17 – 20 March and the ministerial segment which starts from 20 to 21 March 2014. The marine environment experts segment is deliberating on the various issues, including the proposed decisions to be adopted by the meeting. At this segment presentations are due to be made by various organizations involved in the field of marine and coastal management issues in the region.

On the other hand, the experts segment will enable the environment ministers to take informed political decisions for activity to be undertaken during the next biennium. Decisions expected at the ministerial segment include the revitalisation of the West and Central Africa Region (WACAF) Action Plan, ecologically or biologically significant marine areas, as well as the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.

To access the Minister’ speech delivered by DEA Director-General, Ms Nosipho Ngcaba, click on the link below:

>> Director-General Nosipho Ngcaba’s opening address on behalf of Minister Edna Molewa at Abidjan CoP11 technical meeting.

For media queries, contact:

Mr Zolile Nqayi  
Cell: +27 82 898 6483 
E-mail: znqayi@environment.gov.za