President Uhuru Kenyatta has lauded the just concluded Nairobi conference as one that generated the right momentum for harnessing the enormous economic potential of the blue economy.
Speaking when he closed the historic three-day global Sustainable Blue Economy Conference at Kenyatta International Convention Centre, Nairobi, President Kenyatta said the conference provided an avenue for the world to make innovative and practical contributions to harness the full potential of oceans, seas, lakes and rivers and expand opportunities for all.
“The truly global representation at this Conference and its far reaching and collective beneficial outcomes, have reaffirmed my belief in the transformative power of multilateralism,” President Kenyatta said at the closing ceremony that was also attended by Deputy President William Ruto. “There is no problem that is too difficult to solve when we come together as a global community,” President Kenyatta added.
The Kenyan leader, however, sounded the alarm bells over the unsustainable exploitation of the blue economy and called on the delegates to put long-term common interests above short-term selfish motivations. “Managing oceans, lakes and seas is complex and it requires us all to put long-term common interests above short-term self-interest.
Failing that, our waters could easily become the tragedy of the commons of the 21stcentury,” President Kenyatta pointed out. Noting that the conference came up with the Nairobi Statement of Intent on Advancing Global Sustainable Blue Economy, President Kenyatta urged the delegates to implement the identified strategies to expand economies, create shared prosperity and increase revenues and job opportunities through ocean-based industries.
The Nairobi Statement of Intent on Advancing Global Sustainable Blue Economy partly states that “the development of a sustainable blue economy is possible with the full and effective involvement and participation of all relevant actors working together and is the primary purpose of SDG 14”.
The President noted that future efforts such as the UN Ocean conference of 2020 that Kenya and Portugal will host, will build on the Nairobi Statement to advance the journey towards a Sustainable Blue Economy.
“Let us all work together to realize this worthy objective. It is the right thing to do,” President Kenyatta said. He underscored the importance of harnessing the blue economy resources in a responsible manner, adding that some of the actions agreed upon at the conference included putting in place solid environmental standards, strengthening programmes to support poorer countries manage and recover from climate related catastrophes and ensuring more effective control of Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing.
“Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported fishing represents a major threat to marine ecosystems, it can hinder the recovery of overfished stocks and can push fishery to the point of collapse, thereby reducing biodiversity in important ecosystems,” President Kenyatta said.
The Kenyan Head of State also commended the conference for agreeing to strengthen political leadership and international cooperation as well as committing to work collaboratively on data analysis, information and intelligence sharing to curb the IUU threats to marine resources.
“The availability of reliable, up-to-date, accessible data and information is essential as a basis for integrated and sustainable management of the ocean and coastal resources,” he said. The conference committed to protect ocean and coastal resources, help them regenerate, and to ensure they remain viable for the present and future generations.
Given the trans-boundary nature of oceans, President Kenyatta said international mechanisms for negotiation and collaboration are critical to preventing, rolling back and managing IUU marine threats.
He pointed out that the trans-boundary nature of the oceans and the fact that two-thirds of global waters lie beyond national jurisdiction, requires concerted efforts to put in place appropriate international mechanisms for negotiation and collaboration to ensure its sustainable management.
“I am pleased to note that we have agreed to build capacity in the poorer countries, to more effectively patrol the seas and oceans and to access scientific and technology resources, to strengthen overall marine capabilities including surveillance and stock taking,” President Kenyatta said.
Other speakers at the closing ceremony, attended by Seychelles President Danny Faure and Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa Amadhila of Namibia, were Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma and Canada’s Minister for Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard, Jonathan Wilkinson.