The National Environment Agency in collaboration with the Abidjan Convention has organised a four-day technical consultative meeting for stakeholders as a preparatory step for the Conference of Parties (COPs 12) summit in The Gambia.
The Abidjan Convention is a comprehensive umbrella agreement, which came into force in 1984, for the protection and management of the marine and coastal areas of the South-Eastern Atlantic Ocean from Mauritania to the western seaboard of South Africa. Pollution from or through the atmosphere and from ships, dumping, land-based activities, exploration and exploitation of the seabed are among its pressing concerns and issues which require control.
The Convention holds Conference of Parties every three years and the last was held in South Africa in March 2014 where The Gambia was offered to host the next edition in 2017.
Addressing the meeting on behalf of the Environment Minister, Ousman Sowe the Permanent Secretary, said The Gambia Government has developed and incorporated a Vision 2020 development programme in which it commits itself to conserve and promote the rational use of the nation’s natural resources and environment for the benefit of present and future generations in a manner that is consistent with the overall goal of sustainable development at all levels.
“Therefore, Vision 2020 is in harmony with The Gambia Environment Action Plan (GEAP), other natural resource sector policies as well as the Multilateral Environmental Agreements,” he said.
This consultative meeting, he added has come at a time when the Government of The Gambia under the leadership of President Jammeh is making all necessary efforts to improve the economic performance and quality of human life in a sustainable way.
He added that efforts to restore, maintain and enhance ecological processes, natural resources and cultural and natural heritage, have been demonstrated with the ban on plastic bags which, he said is a major threat to coastal and marine ecosystem.
Speaking earlier, Momodou Jama Suwareh, the Director of Intersectoral Networks at the National Environment Agency said the Abidjan Convention is one of the regional sea programmes of the United Nations Environment Programme, saying the Convention develops action plans which are comprehensive agreements engaging governments in protecting the environment and cover a range of issues including pollution, chemicals and ecosystems.
Suwareh, who doubles as the Convention’s focal point in The Gambia, stated that it also provides mechanisms for regional coordination and framework for effective regional actions for the protection and development of the marine environment and coasts of West, Central and Southern Africa.
Speaking on behalf of the Abidjan Convention Secretariat, Richard Dacosta said the Convention needs to be updated and enhanced to meet the new challenges of sustainable development, such as climate change, poverty alleviation and sustainable management of marine and coastal ecosystems, issues which he said were ignored at the time of the adoption of the Abidjan Convention.
by Samba Jawo