Transforming Oceans: UNDP's Game-Changing Move to Foster Sustainable Blue Economies in Angola, Namibia, and South Africa

Mainstreaming Climate-Resilient Blue Economy in the BCLME Region project

May 2, 2024

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Namibia recently wrapped up a two-day meeting in Swakopmund, Namibia, marking a significant milestone in the collaborative efforts of Angola, Namibia, and South Africa towards validating the 4th iteration of the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (BCLME) IV project. Supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Mainstreaming Climate-Resilient Blue Economy in the BCLME Region project (BCLME IV Project) initiative represents a crucial step towards enhancing a sustainable blue economy in the region. 

Ms. Annely Haiphene, the Executive Director of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources

Led by Ms. Annely Haiphene, the Executive Director of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources in Namibia, the meeting focused on aligning project objectives and validating its structure. The BCLME IV project aims to promote sustainable blue economies by implementing a Strategic Action Plan that emphasizes enhancing sustainable marine fisheries including seafood value chains, improving the management of Marine Protected Areas and coastal regions, and facilitating innovative and sustainable finance mechanisms. Building upon the successes of the BCLME III project, this new endeavour seeks to create an enabling environment in the participating countries while enhancing the climate resilience of coastal communities to ensure equitable access to the benefits of marine resources.

The meeting presented a unique opportunity to harness the collective intelligence of diverse minds from the three countries, with notable attendees including the Benguela Current (BCC) Commissioners and their representatives namely; Dr. Filomena Vaz Velho (Angola) and Ms. Tembisa Sineke (South Africa), who provided valuable insights through their respective statements. The BCC was represented by its Acting Executive Secretary Ms. Thandiwe Gxaba, and Mr. Christian Shingiro, who delivered the opening remarks on behalf of UNDP Namibia.

 The BCLME IV Project will be implemented by the BCC secretariat, as part of the Convention signed by the three countries. This region, known for its rich marine biodiversity and valuable ecosystem services, faces threats from habitat degradation, overexploitation, illegal fishing, and marine pollution. The project aims to address these challenges by promoting sustainable practices, enhancing climate resilience, and fostering socio-economic development in coastal communities. 

In addition to the productive discussions during the BCLME IV project meeting, stakeholders visited sites at the port town of Walvis Bay underscoring the project's focus on responsible fishing practices and reducing seabird mortality. The site visits showcased tangible steps toward a more sustainable ocean future, emphasizing responsible fishing and innovative seabird bycatch solutions with the Seawork factory and the Meme Itumbapo Women's Group that works with Namibia Nature Foundation under the Albatross Task Force to build bird-scaring lines to sell to fishing vessels to reduce bycatch and bird mortality. The visit provided firsthand insights into sustainable fishing practices with its commitment to enhancing the marine ecosystem in the BCLME region.

From left: Ms. Thandiwe Gxaba, Dr. Filomena Vaz Velho, Mr. Christian Shingiro, and Ms. Annely Haiphene.

With the support of UNDP-GEF and the commitment of the participating countries, the project is poised to build on past achievements and capitalize on the current political momentum to drive positive environmental, social, and economic impacts. The UNDP-GEF initiative in the BCLME represents a beacon of hope for advancing sustainable blue economies. By harnessing the collective efforts of Angola, Namibia, and South Africa, the project stands poised to usher in a new era of prosperity, resilience, and ecological stewardship in the region's marine ecosystems.