The Environment Protection Agency in collaboration with the Ministry of the Environment, the West African Biodiversity and Climate Change Program and the Abidjan Convention had ended a three-day National Stakeholders Workshop from the 10th on to the 12th February 2020 at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Freetown. The purpose of the Workshop is to develop an Action Plan for the Additional Protocols of the Abidjan Convention such as the Protocol for the Prevention of Marine Pollution from Land-Based Sources and Activities (Bassam Protocol); the Protocol on Environmental Standards for offshore Oil and Gas activities (Malabo Protocol); the Protocol on Integrated Costal Zone Management (Pointe Noire Protocol) and the Protocol on Sustainable Mangrove Management otherwise known as the Calabar Protocol.
The Action Plan will present a comprehensive list of activities to be implemented both at regional and national levels to ensure the proper operationalization of the Protocols. The main objective of the consultation is to ensure the integration of stakeholders’ concerns, priorities and harmonization with various national plans and strategies.
The workshop attracted key representation from environmental stakeholders in the country and the African Sub-region. The Minister of the Environment, Professor Foday Moriba Jaward said the National consultation serves as a roadmap to transforming the written text of the protocols into viable actions for the implementation of the additional protocols to the Abidjan convention. ‘The action plan to be developed will present a comprehensive list of aligned and prioritized actions to be implemented at the national level to ensure the proper operationalization of the additional protocols’ he added.
Commenting further, Prof. Jaward said “as a government we note that, in the context of global environmental governance and cooperation, the regional level represents a critical middle ground between the global and national levels. So recognizing the good governance of the marine environment for seas that borders more than one state falls into regional rules, the essence of developing additional protocols to address the issues in the marine and coastal environment in the West, Central and Southern African region becomes a brilliant initiative”.
The Minister also said that most are ‘familiar with the issues facing our coastal and marine areas, for which management measures are needed to facilitate through the rational planning of activities and by ensuring that the environment and landscape are taken into account in harmony with economic, social and cultural developments’. He said though oil development has wide ranging socio-economic advantage, it has associated environmental impacts that will lead to habitat loss and destruction of living marine resources.
Sierra Leone is not presently an oil producing country but as a responsible government, it is now on contingency planning and preparedness in the form of developing national environment standards for offshore oil and gas production which is a sound initiative to address any future problem.
In line with government’s ambition to address environmental issues and to build national environmental resilience – which is a key milestone of the medium term national development plan 2019-2023, ‘the protocols will serve as the overall framework to foster effective and sustainable management of our coastal resources and help to address emerging issues and climate change’, the Minister reechoed.
The UN Environment administers the convention on then cooperation for protection, management and development of the marine and coastal environment of the Atlantic Coast of West, Central and Southern African region, otherwise known as the Abidjan Convention.
Mr. Kenan Mogultay, from the West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change Program in his statement highlights the importance of the Abidjan Convention protocols while noting that Sierra Leone continues to show commitment on the marine and coastal zone protection and management. He said the national action plans defines roles and responsibility and the more reason for the national stakeholders workshop.
The Executive Director of the Centre for Maritime Law and Security Africa, Mr. Ali Kamal-Deen it was an honor to be part of the workshop in Sierra Leone since the consultative workshop will pave the future of the country for offshore oil and gas exploration.