From 24-28 June 2019, a SoME Expert Elicitation Workshop was organized as part of the Ecosystem based approach to an Integrated Marine and Coastal Environment Management (EIMCEM) project.
A training workshop on State of the Marine Environment (SoME) was organized in Accra, Ghana, by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with the institutional support of the Abidjan Convention (ABC) and GRID-Arendal (Norway). The workshop focused on the expert elicitation method, which is a synthesis of opinions of authorities on a topic where gaps remain due to insufficient data.
The EPA is currently undertaking a SoME report that focuses on the Western Region of Ghana (Ahanta West, Nzema East, Ellembelle and Jomoro). The ongoing process has already included several workshops and meetings with relevant stakeholders, and a draft SoME report for four coastal districts in the Western Region of Ghana was presented a few days before the workshop in Accra.
Using the expert elicitation method allowed the participants, together with the trainers, to populate the draft document, and to get the opinion of national experts on the condition of marine and coastal ecosystems and dependent socio-economic sectors. Around twenty-five national and regional experts participated, representing mainly government, research institutions, academia and non-governmental organisations. This included experts from the Environmental Protection Agency of Sierra Leone (EPA-SL) – Mami Wata Center of Expertise in charge of building SoME capacity for the pilot projects, from GRID-Arendal, and from the Abidjan Convention.
The next steps, including presenting the results in a validation workshop to politicians, resources users’ regulators, and traditional authorities among many others, were discussed at the end of the five-days’ workshop. It was agreed that the results should be presented to stakeholders to ensure continued involvement, and that user-friendly knowledge products would need to be developed. It was also emphasized that the SoME reporting process should be extended to the whole country at a later stage.
Morten Sørensen, Senior Adviser at GRID-Arendal and trainer during the workshop declared: “A comprehensive knowledge-base is required to manage human activities in marine and coastal ecosystems. The SoME report that will result from the ongoing process including this workshop, will be an important contribution to making the necessary decisions and taking action for balancing ecosystems’ health and coastal economies”.
Ghana, along with Benin and Côte d’Ivoire, is one of the three pilot countries for the Mami Wata project. Therefore, as part of a framework for Integrated Ocean Management (IOM), these three countries receive support to build capacity and develop competence around the three following tools: Ecological and Biological Significant Areas (EBSAs), State of the Marine Environment (SoME) assessment and reporting, and Marine Spatial Planning (MSP).