Interim Guinea Current Commission development partners give strong promises of support for resource mobilization
ACCRA, 28 Feb – They came with portfolios of national investment projects, seeking backing from each other and partners; they left with promises of support for resource mobilization, one firm commitment and advice on bundling some national actions into regional programmes suitable for donor support.
Ranking environment officials from 15 of the 16 countries making up the Interim Guinea Current Commission (IGCC) which covers the Guinea Current Large Marine Ecosystem (GCLME) region had come to Cameroon’s commercial hub, Douala, on 17 and 18 February, to initiate process of mobilizing domestic and international support for their multimillion- dollar planned projects to protect their marine ecosystems.
Collectively, these projects, drawn from country National Action Plans, were valued at US $189 million. Of these, Nigeria sought to mobilize the most funding: $63 million and São Tomé and Príncipe, with $2.3 million, the least. The projects spanned ecosystem recovery activity ranging from control over coastal pollution, halting coastal degradation, to the conservation and management of now scarce marine resources.
Total Value of Country Investment Projects
|15||São Tomé and Príncipe||2,285,000|
Some countries within the GCLME region have the same marine ecosystem problems they wish to resolve and for which they seek funding. Broadly, these are in the areas of fisheries management, waste management, coastal erosion and habitat degradation.
There was consensus reached on integrating elements of national investment proposals with regional dimensions in the GCLME SAP Implementation Project under preparation to the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to follow the current SAP Capacity Development Project. The SAP is a policy document setting out the legal and institutional reforms and investments needed to resolve the GCLME’s foremost trans-boundary marine ecosystem problems. The document has five components: (1) Strengthening policy and government policy framework; (2) Support management and information to guide management processes; (3) Reduction of stress on the GCLME; (4) Build awareness and capacity on the marine environment; (5) Manage the GCLME project.
UNEP, represented by Dr. Kelly West, said it was important that all the GCLME countries make an effort to market their own National Action Plans at the national-level which would serve as co-financing for the proposed SAP Implementation Project to be supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
Supporting this option, the UNIDO representative in Cameroon, Van Rompaey Frank, said consultations could be organized at the national-level so that the countries could present their action plans to their traditional donors.
Recalling that the economic value of healthy ecosystems in the GCLME is estimated to be $16 billion he said: “Even if not equally shared by the countries, but I think no country can afford to lose its share in terms of economic value which is at risk: you lose the ecosystem services, you lose the social services provided by healthy ecosystems, you lose this economic value.”
A concrete offer of assistance to the GCLME’s SAP Implementation Project, as follow up to the current project, came from long-time partner the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Its director of the Fisheries Office of Marine Ecosystems Studies and of the NOAA Fisheries Narragansett, Rhode Island, Laboratory, Dr. Kenneth Sherman said: “NOAA will continue to provide on a five-year frame very significant in-kind scientific and technical aid. It will also continue to provide direct aid with regard to some of the GCLME modules where there are experiences and lessons to be learnt with satellite remote sensing.”
He added that NOAA would also provide training – which he described as an “underfunded need” – in actual products for the Guinea Current project primary productivity.
“We provided assistance in the early phases; we will continue to provide that level of assistance in stock assessment as the countries are interested,” he said.
In material contributions, he said NOAA could provide copies of training material pertinent to the LME project that stress the ecosystem approach of management.
While heartened by the progress made in the GCLME region, Dr. Sherman told the participating countries that they should “work hard” to focus management of the region on an ecosystem perspective.
“The world is moving towards ecosystem-based management and it’s very important for the financial institutions that are providing you with assistance, that they encourage this movement of integration of your issues that you put so directly into this report,” he said, referring to the National Action Plans.
“Now the challenge is to reconstruct your issues into the trans-boundary dimensions that are apparent from your presentation of pollution moving in a trans-boundary way; of the fishing as a trans-boundary problem; of the mangroves and other habitats that are being degraded; [and] of the erosion,” he added.
One of the potentially pressing trans-boundary issues of concern to GCLME is how to deal with oil spills. In this respect, offer of technical help came from the International Maritime Organization, the United Nations body responsible for developing global standards and regulations in maritime security and protection of the marine environment from ship-based pollution.
“We still have ongoing collaboration with UNIDO to continue building capacity of countries for development of their oil spill contingency plans,” Michael Luguje, the IMO regional coordinator for English-speaking West and Central Africa, said.
Oil spills are a growing problem in Nigeria and could threaten Benin and even Togo, to the west.
While not a funding agency, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) officer in Cameroon, Felicitas Chi Antanga, said limited amounts were available in two areas: (i) technical cooperation project at no more than $500,000; (ii) up to $100,000 for things like studies conducted by consultancies.
She said since donors were very interested in the 7th MDG Target, countries should fine tune their activities by bringing them in line with this goal and breakdown and cost the activities realistically. She told the participants to ensure that activities that could be paid for by government are identified so that donors would see the level of government commitment.
The FAO also contributes to a number of activities that GCLME countries are undertaking. One is the EAF-Nansen project, a marine fisheries survey ship. Project coordinator Kwame Koranteng said the FAO would support the IGCC in the GCLME SAP Implementation Project. He suggested that countries seek funding for resource management activities from the Partnership to Sustainable Fisheries Investment Fund in Africa.
“I would encourage countries to look at this fund closely. The projects tend to have several components being discussed here,” he said.
The facility is managed by the FAO, the World Bank and WWF. He said countries could access this money by seeking loans, usually from the World Bank.
Non-governmental organizations also offered technical support.
- The World Conservation Society has been working in Gabon for over 25 years in research, conservation activities and training. Fenneke Tjallingii-Brocken, its coordinator and manager for its coastal marine programme called the Congo Basin Coast, said the organization could help attract donors to support projects. It could also provide expertise and conduct research in sustainable management.
- The Swiss-based International Union for Conservation of Nature’s MACO programme focuses in marine ecosystems and covers West and Central Africa and is able to mobilize resources. It offered to use this speciality to back projects identified in the NAPs. It also mobilizes funds for consultations and talks, as well as seeks funds to support marine protected areas.
The union suggest that given its sensitivity to climate change, issues concerning mangrove restoration and preservation could be presented as a trans-boundary project for Climate Change funding.
- For its part, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission said although not a donor agency, it could contribute financially to joint training of marine scientists, as well as to joint products and services in the GCLME region. Presently, the organization is publishing a marine atlas at the national level but this would be followed with an atlas based on the Large Marine Ecosystem. It said it looked forward to working with the IGCC to produce such an atlas. It also said it would develop an African register of marine species.
- UNESCO said the projects in the NAPs were too costly for their funding scope but that it could help with those portions that fell within its mandate, once the projects got well underway.
- The Régie des Voies Maritimes RVM Congo is a business working on pollution from ballast water and hydrocarbon activities (i.e. Oil). It works with populations living by the rivers affected by pollution. It said it had agreed to offer its service in marine pollution detection to the IGCC and had set up a Marine Control and Surveillance Centre costing close to $400,000 for this purpose.
The Way Forward
Advising on the way forward, the IGCC Executive Secretary, Dr. Stephen Donkor, recalled the counsel given by GCLME’s partners.
First, he said, at local levels, countries should share their NAPs with the GEF focal points in-country. He said these NAPs should be framed in a way that would make it much easier for their National GEF Focal Points to integrate elements of the NAPs in their non-international waters GEF portfolios that they manage. This is especially relevant to the Climate Change and Biodiversity portfolios.
Second, he said, countries should summarize the profile and interests of their traditional donors, and then share their NAPs at the national-level, but in a manner that donors could “understand and accept.” This implies presenting the NAP components which fit into the donor partners’ profile and objectives.
“Within the limits our funding resources and in consultation with our implementing and executing partners, IGCC will help support this work,” he said.
Earlier, the Executive Secretary had recounted the Key Findings of the 6th Petersberg Round Table on Transboundary Water Management in Africa organized by the government of the Federal Republic of Germany and all major donors on the theme
“From agreements to investments – How to put measurable value to transboundary water management in Africa”
He said: “The key findings which may be of great relevance to our discourse in this Conference were as follows:
1) Transboundary Water Management (TWM) in Africa is a key issue in the adaptation to climate change.
By Olu Sarr, Communication Adviser, Interim Guinea Current Commission/Guinea Current Large Marine Ecosystem
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