GIS – 27 May 2019: A three day Western Indian Ocean Regional Science to Policy workshop being held from 27 May 2019 to 29 May 2019, was launched today at the Hotel Sofitel Mauritius in Flic en Flac by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Nairobi Convention in collaboration with the Ministry of Ocean Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Shipping. The Minister, Mr Premdut Koonjoo and other personalities were present on that occasion.
In his opening address, Mr Koonjoo highlighted the importance of this regional workshop whose objectives are critical to humanity's sustainable development aspirations adding that Mauritius, as a Small Island Developing State, is at the forefront of the battle to adapt to climate change and adopt a new Blue Economy approach.
The Government, the Minister said, is committed to support the Nairobi Convention Secretariat in the implementation of the Strategic Action Programme for the protection of the Western Indian Ocean from land-based sources and activities (WIOSAP) and the Strategic Action Programme Policy Harmonisation and Institutional Reforms (SAPPHIRE) projects as vehicles to address various conservation challenges which have been identified and prioritized by governments of the region.
He underlined that the Nairobi Convention is a regional Convention that will bridge the gap between science and society and bring understanding to the ongoing and emerging regional environmental problems as well as the strategies needed to address them.
Mr Koonjoo lauded the hardwork and commitment of all the parties of the Nairobi Convention and its Secretariat in carrying out many important tasks, including establishing key partnerships with governmental and nongovernmental organisations; keeping coastal and marine environmental issues on the policy agenda; improving the conservation and sustainable management of the coastlines and oceans through the establishment of innovative marine and coastal programmes and projects that demonstrate real potential for sustainable, community-based marine and coastal management.
The Minister pointed out that the WIOSAP project focuses on the identification of key strategies to reverse impact of land-based activities and sources of degradation of the coastal and marine environment adding that Mauritius, as an emerging ocean state, has implemented the project so as to protect its coastal and marine environment which are important resources to develop its ocean economy.
Scientific research, he stated, is continuously warning about emerging pollution in key urban areas in the region, as well as the impacts of climate change and is raising awareness of the degrading water and sediment quality resulting in a loss of biological diversity, problems for human health and a reduction in fish stocks, hence, pointing to a need for an integrated approach for the management of the coastal zone, one that will allow to find a sustainable development pathway for the future.
Speaking about the initiatives of the Government to protect the Blue Economy, the Minister recalled some measures taken including: fostering development of other emerging sectors of the Ocean Economy, specifically in maritime services, marine commerce, marine biotechnology and marine renewable energy among others.
As regards this workshop, Mr Koonjoo appealed to the scientists present to effectively deliver evidence-based environmental and socio-economic information to support policy development and implementation at both the national and regional levels and encouraged efforts to develop various guidelines and toolkits so as to provide much needed technical support in conducting assessments and implementing various interventions to promote the health of coastal and marine resources in the region.
The overall goal of this three-day workshop is to establish and operationalise the Science to Policy Platform as a core structure within the Nairobi Convention including: discussions on the need for a regional ecosystem/ indicator monitoring framework and road map on its development; discussions on topical emerging scientific findings with potential policy implications in the management of coastal and marine resources in the region; regional stock-taking of oceanographic research and data in the region and; discussion of various regional toolkits and Guidelines supporting implementation of the WIOSAP project.
This workshop will also actively deliberate and constitute a regional science to policy platform that will provide the necessary information to support evidence-based decision making for improved ocean governance and review the collection of scientific data and local information available in the national data centres which is a necessary step for long term oceanographic change studies in the Western Indian Ocean region.
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