African Ministers from coastal countries and small island developing states along with the World Bank and development partners met in Mauritius on September 1 and 2 at the African Ministerial Conference on Ocean Economies and Climate Change to discuss the importance of building sustainable climate-smart ocean economies in Africa.
In a final communiqué, known as the “Mauritius Communiqué”, the Conference participants agreed on a common vision of a prosperous, resilient and inclusive Africa, and noted that the continent will be a leader in the pursuit of climate-smart ocean economies.
“The Mauritius Communiqué contains a strong call for climate action in favor of African oceans and coasts,” said Jamal Saghir, Senior Regional Adviser at the World Bank and Co-Chair of the Conference. “The World Bank, together with the African Development Bank and FAO, will prepare a package of measures, consisting of both financial and technical assistance, to support African countries in developing their ocean-based economies in a sustainable way.”
Saghir added that the package, which could include up to $670 million from the World Bank’s IDA fund and matching requests to the Green Climate Fund and other sources, will be submitted to African countries for consideration.
As part of the “Mauritius Communiqué,” governments, private companies, development and other financial institutions agreed to factor sustainability and transparency into all investment programs to develop ocean and coastal economies and conduct proper environmental impact assessments. The Communiqué established a link between the development of the ocean economy and climate action. Besides the call for submitting programs to the Green Climate Fund, there is also an expectation that African countries will revisit their Nationally Determined Contributions to take oceanic and coastal issues into account.
The small island state yet large ocean state of Mauritius provided a remarkable setting for the conference. “Mauritius is proud to have shown leadership and convened this important conference – the first one in Africa and the world. The Conference helps Africa speak with one voice on the topic of the ocean economy and climate change, which is so crucial for the continent’s future,” said Hon. Mr. Xavier Luc Duval, Deputy Prime Minister of Mauritius. “The private sector participated fully and a number of investment opportunities were discussed.”
Like other island nations, Mauritius has lost 11 percent of its coastline to severe erosion, while live coral is decreasing. At the same time, the country has adopted measures such as banning sand mining, and the ministerial meeting here shared best practices and lessons learned for future development.
African governments are concerned about coastal population growth, overfishing, as well as the degradation of marine and coastal diversity and ecosystems. All of these issues degrade oceanic and coastal resources, reduce livelihood opportunities, and aggravate poverty. Five hundred thousand people are impacted by coastal floods in West Africa alone every year. The cost of coastal erosion and degradation in Togo, for instance, and associated lost economic opportunity is about 3% of its GDP, or $296 million (in 2013).
“Togo is hosting an Extraordinary Summit of the African Union on maritime safety and security and development in Africa in October,” said H. E. Andre Johnson, Togo’s Minister of Environment. “The Mauritius Communiqué will provide a very useful input to the Summit, and the Togolese government will champion the topic of climate-smart ocean economies going forward.”