On 16-17 February 2021, the STRONG High Seas project along with its partner the Abidjan Convention Secretariat organised the third Dialogue Workshop ‘Enhancing the Knowledge Base for Cross-Sectoral Management and Ocean Governance in ABNJ of the Southeast Atlantic’. The workshop brought together online more than 40 participants from member States of the Abidjan Convention as well as global and regional organisations, scientific institutions. The stakeholders discussed various topics relevant to biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction, including recent findings of the STRONG High Seas project and work of the participants as well as spoke about future work and initiatives.
The workshop was part of a series of ‘Dialogue Workshops’ organised under the STRONG High Seas project in the Southeast Atlantic region with the aim to bring together stakeholders to discuss the status and challenges of global and regional ocean governance, as well as foster exchange of knowledge and information, and build new networks. The first Dialogue Workshop took place in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, in June 2018, and the second Dialogue Workshop took place in Cape Town, South Africa, in June 2019. Two more Dialogue Workshops are planned until 2022.
- The Dialogue Workshop offered a space for Abidjan Convention member States, the Abidjan Convention Secretariat, sectoral organisations, academia, and civil society to present their work and discuss critical aspects relevant to marine areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ), particularly to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in these areas (BBNJ). Workshop participants highlighted the importance of organising these Dialogue Workshops in the Southeast Atlantic region.
- Workshop participants recognised the progress of the STRONG High Seas project and stressed the important opportunity for States and stakeholders in the Southeast Atlantic region to participate in the project and its planned activities beyond this Dialogue Workshop.
- Participants emphasised the current and potential future role of the Abidjan Convention and its Secretariat as a key convener of States and for coordinating efforts in the Southeast Atlantic region.
- Workshop participants highlighted that there is a strong need for African States and stakeholders of the Southeast Atlantic region to enhance efforts regarding the ongoing BBNJ negotiations and issues related to ABNJ. To support this, awareness raising and political engagement are essential through all areas of society.
- There is also an important need for initiatives, such as the STRONG High Seas project, to continue to support capacity-building efforts in African States and help to enhance their participation and role in the BBNJ negotiations and in ABNJ issues more broadly.
- Many of the key provisions in the draft BBNJ Agreement are still in brackets and further negotiations are needed to finalise the agreement and to ensure that it is ambitious and robust. While COVID-19 has caused a delay in the BBNJ negotiations, there remains significant opportunities for States and stakeholders, including in the Southeast Atlantic region, to be involved in the BBNJ negotiations.
- Socioeconomic assessments of ABNJ, including in the Southeast Atlantic region, are limited and there is still a need for more scientific research on this topic. Several blue economy activities are viewed as promising sources of development for the region. However, if these activities are not well managed, they are likely to increase the pressure on marine ecosystems and could negatively impact local communities rather than supporting sustainable growth and social inclusion.
- Conservation measures, such as area-based management tools (ABMTs), are appropriate for use in ABNJ. However, capacity-building, political will and stakeholder interest to ensure compliance with legal regulations, through for instance the use of Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) tools, must be enhanced to ensure their full implementation and contribute towards the conservation and sustainable use of BBNJ.
About the STRONG High Seas Project
The STRONG High Seas project (‘Strengthening Regional Ocean Governance for the High Seas’) is a five-year project that aims to strengthen regional ocean governance for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. Collaborating with the Central Africa Regional Seas Programme (Abidjan Convention), the project aims to develop and propose targeted measures to support the coordinated development of integrated and ecosystem-based management approaches for ocean governance in the Southeast Atlantic. The project also works with the Secretariat of the Comisión Permanente del Pacífico Sur (CPPS; Permanent Commission for the South Pacific).
The workshop presentations can be found here.