The Mami wata project seeks to enhance Conservation and sustainable use of marine areas through cooperation and coordination. The project is supporting national and regional action towards enhancing Integrated Ocean Management in the Abidjan Convention Region, which covers 22 states from Mauritania to South Africa. The project is building capacity through training and by applying some key approaches in an Integrated Ocean Management framework. These approaches include State of Marine Environment Assessments (SoME), CBD Ecologically and Biologically Significant marine Areas (EBSA), and Marine Spatial Planning (MSP).
The marine and coastal environment of the African Atlantic coast is home to a range of biodiversity hotspots and highly productive ecosystems. These natural assets provide important services to West, Central and Southern African communities and are essential to people´s wellbeing. They also provide important livelihood opportunities and are fundamental for social and economic development. However, coastal and marine living resources and ecosystems are in widespread decline due to human activities; hence the need for a concerted approach to halt and reverse this trend.
The management of marine and coastal ecosystems is challenging for a range of reasons – the complexity of managing a high variety of potentially conflicting activities in an environment subject to constant change is one of them. Integrated Ocean Management (IOM) that brings together all relevant government bodies, sectors and stakeholders is an approach for more effective and sustainable management. The Mami Wata project aims to strengthen national and regional action to capture the value of marine and coastal ecosystems through a dual approach, developing capacity through training and applying State of Marine Environment Assessments (SoME), CBD Ecologically and Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSA) and Marine Spatial Planning (MSP), in an IOM framework.
The Mami Wata project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety and will be applied in the countries of the Abidjan Convention region. It is implemented by GRID-Arendal and the Abidjan Convention Secretariat.
As Sierra Leone became the first country to conduct the assessment of the state of the Marine environment in West Africa, it has been designated as the centre of excellence, which accounts for the reason the first expert working group meeting of the Mami Wata project is being hosted here.
The expert meeting has brought together experts from across the Abidjan Convention Region to discuss theoretical and practical means to apply State of the Marine Environment, Ecologically, Biologically Significant Marine Area, and Marine Spatial Planning.
Declaring the meeting open on behalf of the Executive Chairperson of the EPA-SL, the Deputy Director of Field Operations and Extension, Mr. Syl-Brians Kamara stated that the EPA-SL has been able to make significant progress due to the immense support it has received and continues to receive from His Excellency the President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and his government. He further stated that there was an increasing need for more collaboration among regional players for an effective sub-regional management of the various challenges facing the marine environment.
It could be recalled that in March this year, the Environment Protection Agency was elected as Vice Chair to the Bureau of the Abidjan Convention due to its outstanding performance in the implementation of the Convention and related progress made towards domesticating the Convention.