UN Ocean Conference, Lisbon

Sustainable blue economy and solving the challenges facing the world’s ocean were some of the top themes at the second UN Ocean Conference, held in Lisbon in June 2022.

Representatives from Our Blue Future (OBF) joined the panel discussion on how to successfully transition to a Sustainable Blue Economy in the Western Indian Ocean at a side event hosted by the Governments of Mozambique and Kenya.

“Partnership, partnership, partnership, partnership”, is the way forward, according to Dr James Njiru, the head of Kenya’s Marine and Fisheries Research Institute, and was echoed by Robin Farrington of OBF initiating partner GIZ “How can we manage to transition to a Sustainable Blue Economy if the private sector and communities are not a part of it?”.

The conference was an excellent place to showcase Our Blue Future’s approach of bringing together partners from various sectors, including the private sector, public sector, civil society and international organisations. OBF’s 15 current members have embraced this multi-stakeholder collective approach and inclusive, participatory space to ensure that a Sustainable Blue Economy becomes relevant on the community level by identifying and developing projects which can be invested in and which will bring wide benefits to not just one sector of society.

Many countries in the region are working towards a more sustainable blue economy, and Kenya and Mozambique are at the forefront of these ambitions. Both countries benefit from political will and leadership that puts ocean health high on the national agenda. However, in its nature, the ocean calls for connected and collaborative action. Regional cooperation and coordination are vital in addressing the remaining barriers to transition to a regional blue economy, as well as tackling regional issues including marine pollution, IUU fishing, and climate change.

One example already starting under the OBF partnership is WWF’s strongly focused community-level work in the region. Samantha Petersen from WWF Madagascar sees everyday community projects which are too small and risky for larger investment, but which, if they were brought together under the OBF collaborative space and multiple projects are packaged together, will become more attractive to investors. “I am calling on governments and other partners to join Our Blue Future and come together to create a collaborative space for action towards a Sustainable Blue Economy for the Western Indian Ocean”, said Ms Petersen.

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