From 7-8 June 2018, the first-ever African Blue Economy event was held in London, UK.
Coinciding with the World Oceans Day, the African Blue Economy Forum (ABEF) brought together ocean leaders and experts to discuss the opportunities emerging from Africa’s oceans.
The event addressed topics such as Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, marine security, ocean governance and the role of ecosystems services in fisheries and aquaculture, in the context of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Christian Neumann, the Mami Wata Project Manager and GRID-Arendal Programme Leader, was there to discuss the importance of fisheries and aquaculture to livelihood opportunities and economies. “In the blue economy, it’s critically important to understand how dependent sustainable development is on healthy marine ecosystems, particularly for coastal communities”, Christian emphasized.
During the two days, the participants – including government representatives, investors, businesses, international organizations, and public institutions – agreed that developing African blue economy on a wider scale will require the involvement of both governments and the private sector. The need for more relevant data and research in order to shape adequate policies, especially with regard to climate change, was highlighted. Similarly, better cooperation within and between countries to develop sustainable maritime governance system, was stressed by the delegates.
Leila Ben Hassen, Founder and CEO of ABEF organizer, Blue Jay Communication, commented on the importance of blue economy. “The blue economy is not simply the responsibility of the 38 African coastal countries, but is also highly relevant to their landlocked neighbors”. “We must all contribute to put the blue economy into action, to help reduce poverty, improve livelihoods and assure sustainable socio-economic development”, she added.
Christian Neumann, felt that the Forum was unique in bringing together an unusually wide representation of stakeholders: ”It’s rare to have the opportunity to discuss topics of sustainable development with such a diverse group, bringing together their expertise on investment, education and conservation, among many others. The Forum was truly inspiring.”