The global conference on the Blue Economy held in Nairobi recently has highlighted the huge contribution of the oceans to sustainable development--but, in most cases, Africa remains on the sidelines, looking on while others take action.
"We have to be impatient in moving Africa forward"
--Dr Akinwumi Adesina, president, AfDB
By the time you read this, the first global conference to have brought together some 4,000 participants from around the world to discuss and learn how to build a sustainable 'blue economy' will have just ended in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.
Held between 26-28 November, it was under the theme: "The Blue Economy and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development". Its two main goals were: (a) To harness the potential of the world's oceans, seas, lakes and rivers to improve the lives of all, particularly people in developing countries, women, youth and indigenous peoples; and (b) To leverage the latest innovations, scientific advances and best practices to build prosperity, while conserving the earth's waters for future generations.
Remarkably, despite its increasing high-level adoption, the term 'blue economy' still does not have a widely accepted definition. For example, the World Bank sees it as the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, while preserving the health of the ocean's ecosystem."
The US-based Center for the Blue Economy says it "comprises the economic activities that create sustainable wealth from the world's oceans and coasts."
By far, the Commonwealth has the broadest definition. It says the "blue economy is an emerging concept which encourages better stewardship of our oceans or 'blue' resources. It highlights in particular the close linkages between the ocean, climate change, and the wellbeing of the people of both coastal and landlocked countries.
"At its heart, it reaffirms the values of equity and public participation in marine and coastal decision-making. It supports all of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG14, 'life below water', and recognises that this will require ambitious, co-ordinated actions to sustainably manage, protect and preserve our oceans now, for the sake of present and future generations."
Africa's hidden treasure
Nearer home, Prof. Said Adejumobi, the director of the Southern African office of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has a sweeter definition. "The blue economy, which some refer...