The 8th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 8) to the Nairobi Convention for the Protection, Management and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Eastern African Region convened under the theme, “Conserving the Marine and Coastal Environment for the Western Indian Ocean for the next 30 Years.”
In addition to regional guidelines, parties to the Convention requested that countries and partners involved in oil and gas development conduct and implement a regionally-coordinated strategic environmental assessment of social and environmental sustainability of oil and gas in the Western Indian Ocean region. They further called for a regional climate change strategy for the Nairobi Convention area, including recommendations that can be integrated into national climate change strategies with options for the development of policies, programmes and projects on climatic variability and climate change.
Parties also, inter alia: recognized contributions of partners, including the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS); requested that the Nairobi Convention and WCS prepare a regional status report on sharks and rays in the Western Indian Ocean; called for cooperation in improving the governance of areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ); and decided that each party should apply blue or ocean economy approaches as pathways for sustained economic growth, food security, poverty eradication, job creation and environmental sustainability.
Among the 15 decisions adopted, one (Decision CP8/13: Enhancing Cooperation, Collaboration and Support with Partners) is partially dressing coral reefs: To encourage collaboration and communication between Contracting Parties and civil society, private sector, non-governmental organisations, local governments and municipal authorities in the implementation of the work programme of Nairobi Convention for increased impact and commitment so as to harness the benefits of synergies and collaboration, such as in the work of the coral reef task force of the Nairobi Convention in 2015-2016 in preparing the regional status of coral reef report for the Western Indian Ocean.
Speaking at the opening of COP 8, Achim Steiner, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director, highlighted the strong potential of the Western Indian Ocean region in driving sustainable economic development in the region.
Three reports were launched during COP 8: “Regional State of the Coast Report: Western Indian Ocean” published by UNEP, the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA) and the Nairobi Convention Secretariat; “Climate Change Strategy for the Marine and Coastal Environment in the Nairobi Convention Area” prepared by the WIOMSA and the Nairobi Convention Secretariat; and “Setting a Course for Regional Seas” by UNEP.