Sustainable Ocean Economy - Western Indian Ocean Regional Consultative Workshop

December 2, 2019

Remarks delivered by Walid Badawi, UNDP Resident Representative Kenya


Ms. Ruth Kaggia, Kenya’s Sherpa to the High-Level Panel on the Sustainable Ocean Economy

Chief of Defence Forces, Gen. Samson Mwathethe, Chairman Blue Economy Implementation Standing Committee

Cabinet Secretaries Present

Principal Secretary of Environment Ms. Betty Maina and other PS Present

Your Excellency, the Ambassador of Norway to Kenya, Ms. Elin Rognlie

Your Excellency, the Ambassador of Portugal to Kenya,Ms. Luisa Fragoso

Representatives of Diplomatic Missions and other development partners in Kenya

The United Nations Resident Coordinator – Mr. Siddharth Chatterjee

Representatives of UN agencies

Representatives from WIO Governments

Representatives of the scientific community

Distinguished Guest, Ladies and Gentlemen

All protocols observed

It gives me great pleasure to be part of the ‘High-Level Panel on Sustainable Ocean Economy Western Indian Ocean (WIO) Regional Meeting’ which aims to develop a regional position on recommendations for the 2020 UN Ocean Conference.

First and foremost, I wish to congratulate Kenya for the nomination as one of three representatives from Africa to the High-Level Panel on the Sustainable Ocean Economy, together with Namibia and Ghana; and for hosting this first meeting for the Western Indian Ocean Regional Bloc.

Secondly, I thank and commend the Government of Kenya for the strong commitment towards the attainment of the UN sustainable development agenda and for taking the lead in the conversations that is catalysing global action on the Blue and Oceans Economy.

Third, I want to thank the Government for entrusting UNDP to provide some modest support for their leadership on this issue starting with hosting of the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference in 2018 and for several events thereafter including a major side event in TICAD 7 earlier this year in Japan.

Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Through the earth’s water cycle, the planet’s freshwater and oceans are inextricably linked. Our economy and social system depends on how we manage the portion of this great cycle that continuously moves through nature and society.

That is why the discussions and actions of this gathering are critical for Africa today. The African Union’s Agenda 2063 affirms the Blue Economy to be “Africa’s Future,” and recognizes the key role the ocean plays as a driver for socioeconomic transformation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Around 80 per cent of global fish stocks are fully- or over-exploited; nutrient and plastics pollution continue to increase, and only around four per cent of the ocean is protected. Through #SDG14, the world has committed to sustainable use of oceans, seas and marine resources. 

That is why, for countries to effectively harness the Ocean Economy  for sustainable development and inclusive growth, the challenges that face the region such as illegal and unregulated fishing, piracy and armed robbery, maritime terrorism, illicit trade in crude oil, arms, drug and human trafficking and smuggling of contraband goods must be addressed with appropriate urgency.

Additionally, addressing issues of the degradation of marine ecosystems through discharge of oil, dumping of toxic waste, and destruction of coral reefs and coastal forests that cumulatively exacerbates the threats facing the marine ecosystems and surroundings need to be prioritized and NDC ambition accelerated to reverse the negative trends of climate change and the protection of  coastal communities and island nations which are particularly at risk. Today’s meeting is very timely as it is starting concurrently with COP 25 on climate change which is taking place in Madrid.

Excellencies and Distinguished Delegates,

A year ago, Kenya together with Japan and Canada hosted the 1st Sustainable Blue Economy Conference in Nairobi. It is notable that the Nairobi Statement of Intent on Advancing a Sustainable Blue Economy continues to catalyse global conversations and actions for SDG 14 on water resource management. Concurrent to this conference, today and tomorrow, the African Union is organizing another high-level meeting on the implementation of the Africa Blue Economy Strategy that was recently formulated and endorsed by the African Union Ministers in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The conversations on strengthening the nexus between the production pillars and conservation pillars of the globe’s water resources continue to gather the much-needed momentum.

For its part, UNDP supports #SDG14 by promoting sustainable and inclusive fishing, applying area-based ocean and coastal management, reducing marine pollution and increasing and strengthening marine protected areas. Through a co-ordinated portfolio operating in over 100 countries, UNDP’s Water and Ocean Governance Programme (WOGP) applies such approaches at local, national, regional and global levels.

UNDP works in co-operation with other UN agencies, the Global Environment Facility, international financial institutions, regional organizations, NGOs, the private sector and others to improve water and ocean management and sustain livelihoods at local, national, regional and global scales through effective water and ocean governance.

It is important to note that in December 2018, UNDP published a report entitled “What Works in Water and Ocean Governance”, the report unveils the most critical steps or factors that made a set of generally successful water and/or ocean governance projects reach their objectives. Whereas the achievements were often of a very different nature, they all tackle complex, cross-sectoral water or ocean issues that none of the actors involved could have managed on their own. This illustrates the important difference between management – addressing matters that are principally tackled by one actor, often within the purview of one organization – and governance, which relates to the broader relations and rules that regulate the way a whole sector or society acts jointly.

Therefore, as we congregate here, to chart a roadmap for the Western Indian Ocean Region, we must learn from such experiences and challenge ourselves to collectively do more for the world’s ocean resources.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Kenya is once again honored to partner and co-host this conference with the Government of Kenya. We wish to re-affirm our keen interest to continue being part of this journey, as we chart sustainable pathways for the blue economy, our oceans, waters, including our terrestrial ecosystems.

Distinguished delegates,

May I emphasise that we need a strategic and pragmatic approach to guarantee social inclusion and collective responsibility in the sustainable use and conservation of oceans and other marine resources. Establishment of systems that enhance protection of the world’s dwindling waters and its resources, will be essential as countries explore the new realm of economic opportunities that promote inclusive human and socio-economic growth, preservation of livelihoods and strengthening of communities' resilience.  We must do all that is in our power to ensure that our oceans do not suffer the same fate as other natural resources such as our precious forests where we only realize only too late that our unsustainable practices in pursuit of uncontrolled economic growth should have been prevented much earlier on.

Sustainability of the ocean economy will require deliberate efforts to place youth at the centre, and that the voice of young people from Africa will be reflected in the ‘Call to Action Statement’ as a roadmap to Lisbon in 2020. This High-Level Panel therefore, has an important role of guaranteeing the engagement and participation of our young people in the conversations and actions that will result in the development of a sustainable ocean economy. We hope that the final ‘Call to Action’ that will emerge from this gathering will be aspirational and highly ambitious.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As I conclude, allow me to reaffirm UNDP’s support and commitment to this process, through utilization of our “integrator” role in mobilizing partners and collaboratively working with government, communities, private sector, and civil society, to deliver on the MTP III, the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda. UNDP in Kenya through our CPD 2018-2022 which is aligned to the UNDAF under the leadership of the RC, looks forward to accelerating the commitment and support to the Oceans Economy in Kenya, ensuring that the ambitious agenda and actions leave no one behind.

I wish you fruitful deliberations.