Between 31 January and 2 February 2024, the African Ocean Decade Taskforce convened in Morocco for its second in-person meeting to finalize the development of the Ocean Decade umbrella programme for Africa and structure the proposal for the flagship Africa Satellite Event at the 2024 Ocean Decade Conference.
In addition to Taskforce members, the gathering brought together representatives of the Decade Coordination Unit and the secretariat of the Sub-Commission for Africa and the Adjacent Island States (IOCAFRICA) of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC). It was hosted at the National Institute of Fisheries Research (Institut national de recherche halieutique, INRH) in Casablanca and the Mohammed VI Foundation for Environmental Protection, International Hassan II Center for Environmental Training in Rabat.
The meeting yielded significant outcomes and key messages, reflecting the collective dedication to advancing sustainable ocean management in Africa. Firstly, the finalization of the Ocean Decade umbrella programme document stood as a notable milestone, providing a comprehensive framework for coordinated action across the continent to implement the Ocean Decade Africa Roadmap. In this regard, the initiative will be structured around four thematic components addressing (1) sustainable management of marine resources; (2) climate change and marine biodiversity; (3) ocean pollution; and (4) extreme events and disaster risk reduction.
Additionally, the approval of the proposal for the Africa Satellite Event at the 2024 Ocean Decade Conference in Barcelona (8-12 April 2024) marked a crucial step in showcasing Africa’s contributions to global ocean conservation efforts.
“The ocean is our future, and it’s imperative that we work together to protect and preserve it for generations to come,” said Dr. Jacqueline Uku, Taskforce Chair.
Discussions on communication strategies and governance issues highlighted the need for enhanced visibility and effective coordination among stakeholders. Participants emphasized proactive communication efforts to bridge awareness gaps and promote stakeholder engagement in ocean conservation initiatives within the framework of the Ocean Decade. Furthermore, establishing key mechanisms such as resource mobilization, National Decade Committees, and monitoring and evaluation systems was deemed imperative for the successful implementation of the Ocean Decade Africa Roadmap.
The meeting witnessed the presentation of bold proposals aimed at catalyzing transformative change in ocean conservation efforts. Concepts such as policy-oriented briefs on the future of ocean science in Africa and establishing an African framework for long-term ocean science mirrored the Taskforce’s commitment to driving innovation and sustainable funding mechanisms in the field.
Overall, the meeting concluded with a renewed sense of purpose and urgency, with participants pledging to address communication gaps, enhance collaboration, and explore funding opportunities collectively. The discussions underscored the importance of proactive measures in safeguarding ocean ecosystems and highlighted the role of collective action in shaping a resilient and sustainable future for Africa’s ocean through and beyond the Ocean Decade.
About the Ocean Decade:
Proclaimed in 2017 by the United Nations General Assembly, the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) (‘the Ocean Decade’) seeks to stimulate ocean science and knowledge generation to reverse the decline of the state of the ocean system and catalyse new opportunities for sustainable development of this massive marine ecosystem. The vision of the Ocean Decade is ‘the science we need for the ocean we want’. The Ocean Decade provides a convening framework for scientists and stakeholders from diverse sectors to develop the scientific knowledge and the partnerships needed to accelerate and harness advances in ocean science to achieve a better understanding of the ocean system, and deliver science-based solutions to achieve the 2030 Agenda. The UN General Assembly mandated UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC/UNESCO) to coordinate the preparations and implementation of the Decade.
About the IOC/UNESCO:
The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC/UNESCO) promotes international cooperation in marine sciences to improve management of the ocean, coasts and marine resources. The IOC enables its 150 Member States to work together by coordinating programmes in capacity development, ocean observations and services, ocean science and tsunami warning. The work of the IOC contributes to the mission of UNESCO to promote the advancement of science and its applications to develop knowledge and capacity, key to economic and social progress, the basis of peace and sustainable development.