Togo is preparing to launch the elaboration of its State of the Marine Environment (SoME) report through a training workshop on methodology
Following the example of Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, and Ghana, Togo is laying the foundations for integrated ocean management.
While the three pilot countries of the MAMI WATA project (MW – Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, and Ghana) are making great strides in implementing integrated ocean management (IOM) – despite the restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic – other coastal countries in the West African sub-region are following the same path. Indeed, the Abidjan Convention encourages other signatory countries to follow the example of the pilot countries of the MW project.
This is the case with Togo, where as part of the Project for the Improvement of Togo’s Environmental Information System (PASIET), a training workshop on the methodology for the preparation of the State of the Marine Environment (SoME) Report was held from December 1-4 2020 in Lomé. Togo having already completed its State of the Environment Report in 2020, this new stage now focuses on the marine and coastal environment of the country. Once Togo’s SoME report is finalized, a transboundary MPA project with Benin is expected to be launched.
The SoME report is a specific environmental assessment focused on a periodic review of the health and status of a number of key components of the marine environment. The analytical framework for drafting the SoME report is based on the DPSIR method (Drivers – Pressures – State – Impacts – Responses). The SoME report establishes the scientific basis for planning the management and development measures for the coastal and marine area, and is therefore a key element of IOM. In the context of adaptive management in these areas, the SoME report should be developed on a rolling basis, in order to facilitate the monitoring of the impacts of existing management measures, and in order to identify new socio-ecological developments that may be detrimental to the state of the marine environment.
The Lomé workshop aimed to train staff on the scientific concepts of the SoME report; on the different aspects of the DPSIR method for the elaboration of the report; to simulate the implementation of the DPSIR method for the elaboration of the report; and to define the calendar of activities for its realization. The workshop was attended by representatives of the Togolese government, representatives of state institutions in charge of environmental management, researchers, as well as representatives of civil society – NGOs and the media. While the first two days of the workshop were dedicated to theoretical work, the third day was an opportunity for participants to put theory into practice during a field visit to Aného, before returning to it in plenary sessions and concluding the workshop on the final day.
Speaking about the SoME report, Mr. Abdel Ganiou Souleymane, Focal Point of the Abidjan Convention in Togo, said, “The SoME report for us is a starting phase. We are now going to map the different actions that are being carried out in the coastal zone, map the different problems, and map the actors who can help us in the development of marine spatial planning”. Along with SoME reporting and with the identification of Ecologically or Biologically Significant marine Areas (EBSAs), Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) is the third tool of the IOM framework that the MW project is currently supporting the implementation of along the West African coast, in the Abidjan Convention region.
Ms. Olanlo Kadjogbe Abra, Environmental Manager at the High Council for the Sea, emphasized, “The SoME report will make it possible to work with the coastal population, to see what environmental problems they are facing, and to be able to consider other priority directions at the government level. […] The population is expecting concrete results in the face of coastal erosion and marine pollution issues […] from the government and technical and financial partners”.
Cdt. Feyssal G. Noumouni, PASIET Project Coordinator also noted, “The advantage of such a report is that it puts the environmental issue at the heart of the country’s priorities. It is up to us technicians to bring the information to the politicians, and this is the advantage of the various reports on the state of the environment. They provide information to decision-makers. It is then up to them to translate it into concrete policies [for the benefit of the populations and biodiversity in the area]”.
Once validated, Togo’s SoME report will serve as a reference document of the state of the marine environment, and will be circulated among stakeholders and decision-makers involved in its management. The next key step for Togo will be the official launch of the development process of the report, starting in early 2021.
Images: Alison Amoussou (Abidjan Convention Secretartiat)