In response to the growing degradation of marine and coastal ecosystems in Africa, an information webinar brought together stakeholders from Africa and the Adjacent Island States to discuss advances and next steps in catalysing science-based solutions to achieve the ocean we want as part of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030 (‘Ocean Decade’).
Established to spearhead the implementation of the Ocean Decade in Africa, the African Ocean Decade Taskforce organized an online information webinar on 2 June 2023. The event, led by the Ocean Innovation Africa and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO, was attended by approximately 120 participants from within and beyond Africa, who were informed on the progress of implementation of the Ocean Decade Africa Roadmap and continuing processes related to the Ocean Decade in the region.
Since the start of the Ocean Decade in 2021, five Calls for Decade Actions have been launched to solicit transformative initiatives to achieve the 10 Ocean Decade Challenges. However to date, the number of submissions from individuals and institutions in Africa and the Adjacent Island States has lagged behind other regions.
In line with the current Call for Decade Actions No. 05/2023 which is open until 31 August 2023, the webinar raised awareness, informed, and rallied regional stakeholders on the importance of addressing marine pollution (chemical, nutrient and plastic) and the impacts it has on ocean and coastal ecosystems, and human health. The expert panel pointed out the importance of ecosystem restoration using area-based management tools for the conservation, protection and reversing the decline of ocean ecosystems. Speakers also highlighted sustainable ocean management and ocean and human health in Africa as top priorities identified by the Ocean Decade Africa Roadmap.
Following on from the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework and the ongoing negotiations to develop an internationally binding treaty on plastic pollution, Call No. 05/2023 seeks Decade Actions addressing priority sub-themes of Ocean Decade Challenge 1 on Marine Pollution and Ocean Decade Challenge 2 on Ecosystem Restoration and Management. Eighteen endorsed Decade Programmes are also inviting Decade Project submissions.
The Africa Community of Practice (CoP) group on the Ocean Decade Network platform was also presented, and partners invited to join.
The expected outcome of the successful webinar is an increased number of submissions from African experts, institutions and organizations to Call for Decade Actions No. 05/2023. The African Ocean Decade Taskforce will continue conducting specific regional information and awareness sessions for subsequent Calls.