The second day of the Marine Regions Forum 2023 hosted in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region proceeded under the theme of Innovation. Discussions took place in parallel sessions and a plenary, exploring groundbreaking ideas, technologies, and solutions to drive transformation to address the triple planetary crisis, foster the sustainable blue economy, and implement global goals at the regional level and for regional ocean governance.
Implementing Global Goals at the Regional Level
Towards a healthy and clean WIO: Building on the region’s successes to fight against plastic pollution: Ben Boteler, Research Institute for Sustainability Helmholtz Centre Potsdam (RIFS), introduced the session, mentioning the UNEA 5.2 resolution to end plastic pollution as a major milestone for global action.
Minna Epps, Head, IUCN Ocean, drew attention to the third session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment (INC-3), scheduled to take place in November 2023 to discuss the zero-draft of the plastics treaty.
Participants commented on the zero-draft, noting that its current state reflects an “everything-on-the-table” approach. They pointed to the need for specificity to address such concerns as: producer accountability policies; approaches to phase out the most high-risk and harmful plastics; tackling plastics leakage hotspots; and product refinement for recycling purposes.
Regional Ocean Governance
Sharing the Regional Ocean Governance Strategy process within the WIO and beyond: Kieran Kelleher, Nairobi Convention, highlighted WIO regional priorities and stressed the importance of learning from other regions to address challenges in a functional and efficient manner. A roundtable discussion elaborated on the challenges, best practices, lessons, and adaptations made in other regional contexts of regional ocean governance strategies.
Tackling the Triple Planetary Crisis
Innovation to tackle the climate change-driven triple planetary crisis: Douw Steyn, Plastics Federation of South Africa, discussed plastics pollution in Sub-Saharan Africa, providing an analysis of the situation in several WIO region countries. Stephen Mwangi, Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI), presented on wastewater treatment and innovative constructed wetlands to boost water quality.
Discussing technologies to support monitoring and surveillance, Ted Schmitt, Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, presented the Skylight technologies.
Participants noted the need to address solutions with producers and other stakeholders, noting viable solutions are those that also safeguard jobs, which support enforcement of plastic legislature.
Fostering a Sustainable Blue Economy
Articulating Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) initiatives towards the co-creation of regional visions: Harrison Ong’anda, KMFRI, presented on MSPs in the WIO region and highlighted the MSP Strategic Framework and the importance of dynamic stakeholder engagement in the various stages of the MSP processes.
Arthur Tuda, Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA), discussed new thinking for the blue economy, with a regenerative approach to natural capital such as the ecosystem.
Participants engaged in discussions on fostering capacity building through education, the importance of building relationships with other sectors, and having a regional platform to share a community of practice.
Plenary on Inclusivity and Innovation in Ocean Governance
This plenary session, moderated by Miranda Naiman, Empower, included a panel session featuring: Valerie Hickey, World Bank; Lorna Veronica Inniss, Head of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Sub-Commission for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions (IOCARIBE); Samantha Petersen, South West Indian Ocean Regional Seascape Leader, WWF; Vatosoa Rakotondrazafy, IUCN Madagascar; and Jaqueline Nduku Uku, KMFRI.
Panelists discussed the importance of engaging actors across all levels in ocean governance discussions, including youth, women, and the private sector. The dialogue also tackled: trade-offs in decisions made in the Ocean; blue economy as a business enterprise; and successful cases of innovation and initiatives in coastal communities.
Evening Reception and Launchpad
An evening reception and launchpad celebrated the following new and ongoing initiatives in the WIO: the Western Indian Ocean Marine Protected Areas Management Network (WIOMPAN), 30 years of WIOMSA, Our Blue Futures Transformation Network; and the Northern Mozambique Channel (NoCaMo) Project.