Reporting from the Mami Wata Project´s activities and experiences during the 9th edition of the PRCM Regional Coastal and Marine Forum.
Every one and a half years, the “Partenariat Régional pour la Conservation de la zone Côtière et Marine en Afrique de L’Ouest (PRCM)” [Regional Coastal and Marine Conservation Programme for West Africa] brings together hundreds of actors working in the coastal and marine areas of Cape Verde, Gambia, Guinea Conakry, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Senegal and Sierra Leone, the seven countries the Programme covers. This year, the PRCM Forum took place in Conakry, the bustling capital of Guinea, from the 23-27 October 2017.
The 9th edition of the PRCM Forum was centred on the theme “let´s invest in coastal resilience for a prosperous future in West Africa”, combining three key areas of discussion: resilience, prosperity and investment. As such, the event provided an excellent opportunity for the Mami Wata Project and team to share the project’s activities with experts from the region.
On Tuesday, the Mami Wata´s project leader, Christian Neumann gave a presentation to the Forum on how Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) can help to reconciling sustainable development and conservation, two objectives of great importance to the region which are traditionally seen as conflicting.
In the evening of the same day, the Mami Wata Project invited participants to a side-event to have time to dig deeper into the topic. The Mami Wata team briefly presented the project and its approach to strengthen experience and capacity on Integrated Ocean Management (IOM) by using Marine Spatial Planning (MSP), the Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs) and State of Marine Environment Assessment (SoME) tools.
Thereafter, Alfredo Da Silva from the “Instituto da Biodiversidade e das Áreas Protegidas (IBAP)” [Institute for Biodiversity and Protected Areas] in Guinea Bissau, shared the country’s experience on how an integrated approach to management can support Marine Protected Areas. After lively discussions followed by a dinner, some 40 participants travelled with us to the fictitious country of Bakul, and conducted the first steps of a ‘Blue Planning in Practice’ exercise in small groups. People were so engaged that what was planned to be a 75-minute session turned out as a 3-hour event that had people leave well after 9 pm.
On the following Wednesday, the Blue Solution Initiative – another project funded by the German International Climate Initiate or IKI, and of which GRID-Arendal is equally a partner, organised a side-event. The event looked at the wide range of successful and inspiring solutions the global oceans community has developed to address the common challenges practitioners are facing all around the planet. The Blue Solutions Initiative has over four years facilitated a global exchange of ‘Blue Solutions’ through its unique methods and approach.
At the side-event first the Blue Solutions team presented the approach used by the Initiative and their Panorama web platform. This was followed by, Armelle Jung, who works for the organisation “Des Requins et des Hommes (DRDH)” [Of Sharks and Humans], presenting her solution to conserving the critically endangered sawfish in West Africa. Then Moussa Sylla from the Université Julius N’yéréré Kankan in Conakry, Guinea introduced a solution to combat monofilament fishing which he developed based on the experiences that were shared during the Blue Solutions Regional Forum on Solutions in Africa in 2016. In a lively discussion afterwards, the audience welcomed the solutions approach and the ideas that can be shared as a result, but noted as well that innovative approaches to financing such solutions were equally critical.
“Thanks to everybody who contributed to these inspiring events through their presentations, and contributions, and thanks to PRCM for being such an excellent host. The Mami Wata and Blue Solutions teams are much looking forward to the next Forum!”