National Blue Economy Summit slated for May 31
Ghana is to host its first National Blue Economy Summit with the objective of reversing marine pollution and enhancing the management and restoration of the marine and coastal ecosystems of the nation.
Blue economy is a term that refers to the sustainable use of coastal and marine natural resources for economic growth and improved livelihoods and jobs.
It is linked to the exploitation and conservation of the maritime environment, while maintaining the integrity and health of the coastal and marine ecosystems.
The two-day summit, scheduled for May 31 and June 1, 2023, is expected to attract 300 participants, including policy makers, academia, development partners, and local and international champions in the fishing industry.
It will be hosted by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Advisory Unit at the Office of the President, in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI); the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, the Royal Norwegian Embassy and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Dubbed: "Our Ocean’s Health, Our Prosperity, Our Planet's Security", the summit will seek to mobilise collective action to raise awareness of the need to urgently address the critical challenges facing the ocean, and to highlight the opportunities that the ocean offers for the country's economic transformation.
Activities during the summit will include high-level dialogues on seven key areas relating to the ocean and addressing of policy gaps.
It will also put a spotlight on plastic pollution, piracy, illegal fishing, innovative financing models and effective partnerships.
Launching the summit in Accra yesterday, the Special Advisor to the President on the SDGs and Ocean Action, Dr Eugene Owusu, said the ocean’s health and productivity were declining at an alarming rate, and posed a threat to humanity.
“The narrative that the ocean is too big to fail is, therefore, a misguided one.
The evidence is clear,” he stated.
Overfishing, climate change and plastic pollution were some of the major challenges of the ocean, he said.
Dr Owusu said the world needed a new ocean agenda anchored on the recognition that the blue economy should be a catalyst for sustainable development.
The Policy Analyst at the SDGs Advisory Unit, Dominic Opoku Manu Asante, said the ocean was important to human existence as the ocean covered 70 per cent of the earth's surface, served as a vital food source and supported significant sectors.
He said it was essential to conserve the ocean and that if no actions were taken, it would lead to the loss of jobs, depletion of biodiversity and increased vulnerabilities of communities along the ocean.
The Resident Representative of the UNDP Ghana, Dr Angela Lusigi, said: "The threat is huge.
Sea levels are rising as a result of climate change which threatens lives and livelihoods, especially for coastal cities and communities around the world".
The UNDP, Dr Lusigi said, was committed to partnerships that would spur concrete actions to sustainably utilise the vast resources and services that the ocean provided to transform Ghana’s economy.
The Director, Policy Planning Monitoring and Evaluation of the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Doris Yeboah, said the ministry was partnering some agencies to work on marine debris.
“When our fishermen go to the ocean nowadays, they come back with their nets filled with plastics,” she said.
Ms Yeboah said the ministry would collaborate with its partners to promote sustainable practices and management of fishery resources to improve the ocean.
Ghana's marine environment encompasses some 550 kilometres of coastline on the Gulf of Guinea, with over 10 per cent of the population depending on it.
The marine area has important resources, including fisheries, oil and gas reserves and precious minerals, and is an important global reservoir of marine biodiversity, providing important migration and nesting habitats for several marine species.
In recent years, the nation's coastal wetlands are threatened by high volumes of plastic and metal waste that choke breeding habitats for fish, birds and other wildlife.
The global Ocean Health Index shows Ghana has performed above the global average in the areas of carbon storage, coastal protection, coastal livelihoods and economies, biodiversity and food provision, but that the country lags behind the global average in clean water.