Kerstin Stendahl craves the indulgence of Contracting Parties
Story: Mohammed Abu, ADM.Accra.
The Abidjan Convention (ABC) which was born in 1981 out of the need for a regional approach to prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment, coastal waters and related river waters in West, Central and Southern Africa, has since achieved a lot, and is still vibrant at 40 years Kerstin Stendhal,Head of UNEP Ecosystem Integration Branch,has said.
Speaking on behalf of Susan Gardner,Director UNEP Ecosystems Division at COP 13 Virtual,she noted that,the Convention since its establishment,has evolved from being conservation focused one to an instrument that also addresses the development aspects related to the sustainable management of marine and coastal resources.
While improving the governance of the marine and coastal resources in the region, the Convention she intimated, has become the main actor in the ocean debate in West, Central and Southern African.
“This achievement will not have been possible without the involvement of the Contracting Parties but also. the partners such as FAO, GEF, SIDA, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNDOALOS, USAID, the Government of the United States and Norway to name a few.
“It is an important and proud member of UNEP’s Regional Seas Programme. It is in manifestation of your strong commitment to multilateral regional collaboration that we convene here today virtually despite the trying times of global pandemic and natural disasters” she added.
She however also disclosed that, the extremely grave financial situation ABC’s Trust Fund currently finds itself makes its future uncertain.
“Ladies and gentlemen, In spite of the urgent appeals launched over the last 24 months as well as the various follow up reminders sent to your governments regarding the payment of the annual UNEP (DEPI)/WACAF/COP.13/3 4 contributions and notifying you of the arrears owed to the Trust Fund, the financial situation of the Trust Fund of the Convention is still of great concern.
To date, “the effort that the Chair of the Bureau and the Secretariat has made to rectify the situation has had very little effect”, she lamented, adding, “The unpaid contributions to the Trust Fund of the Abidjan Convention have now reached the critical threshold of over 3,4 million US dollars.
“I do not need to impress upon you the gravity of the situation. I reiterate this urgent call to the Contracting parties to pay their statutory contributions to the Abidjan Convention Trust Fund which is a legally binding instrument. I count on you, the Contracting Parties, owners of the Convention, to undertake active engagement with your governments so that this situation can be resolved” she implored..
“The existence of the Abidjan Convention is at stake, and with it the extremely important and valuable work that we have, all together, set out over the last 40 years to protect, manage and develop the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Atlantic Coast of the West, Central and Southern Africa Region” Kerstin Stendahl cautioned ,
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 (Abidjan Convention in short), covers a marine area from Mauritania to South Africa which has a coastline of just over 14,000 km.The Convention provides an overarching legal framework for all marine-related programmes in West, Central and Southern Africa.
The 22 countries that belong to the Abidhan Convention are namely, Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mauritania, Namibia, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Togo.
Under its articles, the Convention lists the sources of pollution that require control as: ships, dumping, land-based activities, exploration and exploitation of the seabed, and atmospheric pollution. It also identifies environmental management issues from which cooperative efforts are meadows, wetlands, barriers and lagoons.
These highly productive and diverse ecosystems support fisheries, coastal tourism, industries, minerals such as limestone and sand, busy ports and oil extraction. However, the region’s rapid modernization has led to the unsustainable use of natural resources and to extensive pollution. As a result, crucial habitats are disappearing.
Adoption of the West and Central African regional legal agreements was facilitated by numerous technical surveys, studies and reviews prepared by UNEP with cooperation of the United Nations Organization; the United Nations Industrial Development Organization; the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization; the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission; the World Health Organization; the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization; and other organization