The Convention for the Co-operation in the Protection and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the West and Central African Region (“Abidjan Convention”) was signed on 23 March 1981 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire and went into effect on 5 August 1984.
In addition, the Contracting Parties adopted the Protocol Concerning Co-operation in Combating Pollution in Cases of Emergency in the Western and Central African Region (“Protocol”) and the Action Plan for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment and Coastal Areas of the West and Central African Region (“Action Plan”). In 2008, the Contracting Parties agreed to amend the title of the Abidjan Convention and the Protocol to: “Convention for Cooperation in the Protection, Management and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Atlantic Coast of the West, Central and Southern Africa Region and Protocol concerning Cooperation in Combating Pollution in Cases of Emergency.”
The Contracting Parties that have ratified the Abidjan Convention are Benin, Cameroon, the Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Togo.
Angola, Cape Verde, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Namibia, and Sao Tome and Principe are located in the Abidjan Convention area, but have not yet ratified the Convention. As part of a revitalization program for the Abidjan Convention, one of the focuses is on persuading these countries (through high-level delegation visits and support from the Secretariat) to ratify and accede to the Abidjan Convention. Relevant institutions are also allowed to accede to the Abidjan Convention.
Under Article 1 of the Abidjan Convention, the geographical scope of the Abidjan Convention (i.e., the Convention area) is the marine environment, coastal zones, and related inland waters within the jurisdiction of the Contracting Parties of the West and Central African region. According to Article 5 of the Action Plan, the geographic limitation for the Action Plan of the marine environment and coastal areas to be considered as part of the region will be identified by the Contracting Parties concerned on an ad hoc basis depending on the type of activities to be carried out. At the Fifth Meeting of the Contracting Parties in March 2000, the geographical scope of the Abidjan Convention was expanded to enable the participation of South Africa.
In addition, as part of efforts to revitalize the Abidjan Convention, stakeholders proposed expanding the scope of the Convention to include the exclusive economic zones of the Contracting Parties and to define the term “marine environment” in order to accommodate current and emerging marine environmental issues. The Contracting Parties did not adopt these recommendations, but agreed to amend Article 1 of the Abidjan Convention to read: “This Convention shall cover the marine environment, coastal zones and related inland waters falling within the jurisdictions of the States of the West, Central and Southern African region, from Mauritania to South Africa, which have become contracting parties to this convention.”
Under Article 16 of the Abidjan Convention, the United Nations Environment Programme (“UNEP”) is designated as the Secretariat of the Abidjan Convention. The UNEP, which is based in Nairobi, Kenya, is a division of the United Nations authorized to address environmental issues at the regional and international levels. The UNEP has established a Joint Secretariat for the Abidjan and Nairobi Conventions. The Nairobi Convention is the Convention for the Protection, Management, and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Eastern African Region. The Secretariat for the Abidjan Convention is in the process of being transferred from Nairobi, Kenya to Côte d’Ivoire, even though the UNEP will continue as the Secretariat. The move to Côte d’Ivoire is part of a shift away from full UNEP support to greater ownership of the Abidjan Convention by the Contracting Parties.
In Article 4, the Abidjan Convention obligates the Contracting Parties to take all appropriate measures to prevent, reduce, combat, and control pollution and to ensure the sound environmental management of natural resources in the Convention area. To meet their obligations, the Contracting Parties are called upon to cooperate with relevant international, regional, and sub-regional organizations to establish and adopt recommended practices, procedures, and measures designed to fight pollution. These initiatives should be supported by the national laws.
The Abidjan Convention, in Articles 5 through 11, focuses on: pollution from normal or accidental discharge from ships; pollution caused by dumping from ships and aircraft; pollution caused by discharge from rivers, estuaries, coastal establishments, and outfalls, or emanating from any other sources on the Contracting Parties’ territories; pollution from activities relating to the exploration and exploitation of the sea-bed; pollution from or through the atmosphere; and coastal erosion caused by human activity, such as land reclamation and coastal engineering. In addition, the Contracting Parties are called upon to work towards establishing protected areas for fragile ecosystems and endangered species and controlling activities likely to have adverse effects on endangered species, ecosystems, or biological processes.
With the assistance of relevant international and regional organizations, the Contracting Parties, under Article 14, are required to cooperate with each other in the fields of scientific research, monitoring, and the assessment of pollution in the Convention area. In addition, for any planning activity concerning projects within the Contracting Parties’ territory (particularly in the coastal areas), the Contracting Parties, according to Article 13, should conduct an assessment of the potential environmental effects for any activity that may cause substantial pollution or significant and harmful changes to the Convention area.
There are also three large marine ecosystems on the Atlantic coast of Africa that are part of the UNEP Regional Seas Programme, and a framework for projects funded by the Global Environment Facility: the Canary Current Large Marine Ecosystem (“LME”), the Guinea Current LME, and the Benguela Current LME. The projects in the Canary Current (the nutrient-rich up-welling of deep cold oceanic waters off the Canary Islands west of Morocco and the Western Sahara) are focused on protecting the ecosystem from degradation from over-fishing and pollution. The projects in the Guinea Current (the water from the Bijagos Archipelago in Guinea-Bissau to Cape Lopez in Gabon) are designed to improve the sustainability of the fisheries and to reduce land and sea-based pollution. The projects in the Benguela Current (the mineral-rich coastal up-swelling from Luanda in Angola to the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa) are concentrated on implementing integrated, sustainable management and use of resources. Both the Guinea Current LME and the Benguela Current LME have produced Strategic Action Programs, which contain specific steps to promote the sustainable management of those water systems. In addition, Angola, Namibia, and South Africa have established a Benguela Current Commission, which aims to follow an integrated, multi-sectored approach towards the governance of its LME. An Interim Guinea Current Commission has also been established.
As part of the plan for the revitalization of the Abidjan Convention, the Contracting Parties agreed to develop national policies and legislation, including those that incorporate the polluter pays principle, in order to strengthen the implementation of the Abidjan Convention. In addition, under the revitalization process, the Contracting Parties agreed to amend the text of the Abidjan Convention to incorporate the relevant provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, as well as other relevant international conventions.
i) The Action Plan for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment and Coastal Areas
The Action Plan was developed as part of the UNEP Regional Seas program for West and Central Africa, which was formed in the early 1980s. Under Article 2 of the Action Plan, the principal objective is to provide a framework for comprehensive, environmentally-sound coastal area development and to protect the marine environment and the coastal areas of the West and Central African region. The Action Plan, according to Article 4.1, is designed to assess the state of the environment (including the impact of development activities on environmental quality) in order to assist the Contracting Parties in dealing with environmental problems. As described in Articles 12 and 13 of the Action Plan, a top priority is the development of a regional program of basic and applied research based on various United Nations pilot projects. The environmental assessment program should be focused on a survey of national capabilities and activities in the region that are related to marine pollution and coastal area development. An example of this would be the preparation of directories of national institutional infrastructure and a survey of the present and planned socio-economic development activities that may have an impact on the quality of the marine and coastal environments. To accomplish these aims, the plan was for local scientists and technicians to be trained in a wide variety of techniques for measuring pollution and assessing the health of ecosystems. According to Article 8 of the Action Plan, the Action Plan was intended to be implemented primarily through national and regional institutions of the Contracting Parties, by way of coordinated national, sub-regional, and regional activities.
In addition, under Article 4.2, the Action Plan aims to promote socio-economic development activities that respect environmental quality and encourage the sustainable use of resources. To achieve this aim, the Contracting Parties agreed to strengthen or expand existing development projects that demonstrate sound environmental practices, hold regional workshops on coastal area development and management, and establish training courses on the reduction and control of pollution. Plus, the Contracting Parties are allowed to establish other cooperative programs to encourage sustainable management. For example, the Action Plan, in Articles 18 and 19, envisions, among other proposals, a program to provide assistance to the Contracting Parties in order for them to establish and strengthen national coordinating structures and mechanisms to deal with environmental affairs and to formulate guidelines and standards for management and control of industrial, agricultural, and domestic wastes. Under Article 4.3, the Action Plan also calls for the development of regional agreements and improvements in national legislation for the protection and development of the marine environment and coastal areas of the region.
ii) The Protocol Concerning Co-operation in Combating Pollution in Cases of Emergency
Negotiated in conjunction with the Abidjan Convention, the Contracting Parties also agreed to the Protocol. Under Article 4 of the Protocol, the Contracting Parties are obligated to cooperate in taking all necessary and effective measures to deal with marine emergencies in the Convention area and to work to reduce or eliminate the resulting damage. According to Article 1 of the Protocol, a marine emergency is defined as any incident resulting in substantial pollution, or imminent threat of substantial pollution, to the marine and coastal environment by oil or other harmful substance. To achieve this aim, under Article 7 of the Protocol, each Contracting Party undertakes to require masters of ships flying its flag, pilots of aircraft registered in its territory, and persons in charge of offshore structures operating under its jurisdiction to report, using the most rapid and adequate channels: (a) all accidents causing, or likely to cause, pollution of the sea by oil or other harmful substances; and (b) the presence, characteristics, and extent of spillages of oil or other harmful substances observed at sea which are likely to present a serious and imminent threat to the marine environment, coast, or related interests of the Contracting Parties. For more information, see Notifications.
Under Article 7 of the Protocol, any Contracting Party receiving such a report must promptly inform the UNEP (as the Secretariat) and, either through the UNEP or directly to the other relevant Contracting Parties, the appropriate national authority of any Contracting Party likely to be affected by the marine emergency. The Contracting Parties are required to develop standing instructions and procedures for their appropriate national authorities to follow when receiving and transmitting reports of pollution and other harmful substances. If a Contracting Party needs assistance in dealing with the emergency, it may ask for assistance from the other Contracting Parties. Furthermore, under Articles 8 and 9 of the Protocol, Contracting Parties are obligated to work to maintain and promote, either on a country level or through bilateral or multilateral cooperation, marine emergency contingency plans and means for combating pollution by oil and other harmful substances.
In 2007, the UNEP, in cooperation with the International Maritime Organization (“IMO”), hosted a meeting of legal and technical experts to discuss revising the Protocol in order to more fully address the prevention of pollution of the marine environment resulting from ships. The meeting produced a draft amendment to the Protocol, which would replace the current Protocol, that calls upon the Contracting Parties to enact regulations to prevent, reduce, and control pollution from ships, as well as for the Contracting Parties to undertake all necessary actions when there are pollution incidents. The Contracting Parties would also be obligated to work towards having in place contingency plans and other means of preventing and combating pollution (such as operation-ready equipment, ships, aircraft, and personnel, as well as the ability to stock and dispose of the pollution waste). The draft amendment to the Protocol also calls for the development of a monitoring system in the Convention area to prevent, detect, and combat pollution and to enforce compliance with the international regulations. There are also provisions in the draft regarding reporting and the dissemination of information concerning pollution.
Under Article 16 of the Abidjan Convention, the UNEP functions as the Secretariat for the Convention. The UNEP has the responsibility to: prepare for meetings of the Contracting Parties; transmit to the Contracting Parties certain notifications, reports, and other relevant information; communicate with the Contracting Parties about issues relating to the Abidjan Convention; coordinate the implementation of cooperative activities agreed upon by the Contracting Parties; enter into necessary administrative arrangements; and perform other functions as assigned by the Abidjan Convention. In addition to the Abidjan Convention, the UNEP also functions as the Secretariat for the Nairobi Convention. The UNEP performs its Secretariat role for both Conventions through the Joint Implementation Unit of the Nairobi and Abidjan Conventions. This UNEP Joint Secretariat develops the work programs for the Abidjan and Nairobi Conventions and oversees their implementation, as well as establishes priorities and promotes synergies between different regional initiatives.
Under Article 17 of the Abidjan Convention, the Contracting Parties hold ordinary meetings (i.e., Conferences of Parties) once every two years, and can call extraordinary meeting whenever requested by the UNEP or at least four Contracting Parties. The Conference of Parties is obligated to: consider reports of the Contracting Parties on measures adopted in accordance with the Abidjan Convention; adopt and review annexes to the Abidjan Convention and its Protocols; make recommendations concerning the adoption of Protocols or amendments; establish working groups to consider any matter relevant to the Abidjan Convention or its Protocols; review the state of pollution in the Convention area; establish cooperative activities to be undertaken within the framework of the Abidjan Convention; and undertake any additional action that may be necessary to achieve the purposes of the Abidjan Convention. At the Eighth Conference of Parties in November 2007, the Contracting Parties agreed to undertake a program to revitalize the Abidjan Convention in order to promote its effective implementation. A working group was established to oversee the revitalization process. The group is composed of South Africa, Gambia, Senegal, and Ghana, who are also members of the Bureau to the Convention (which has a leadership role in implementing the Abidjan Convention). To enact this revitalization program, the Contracting Parties convened an extraordinary meeting of the Conference of Parties in June 2008.
According to Article 16 of the Abidjan Convention, each Contracting Party must appoint an appropriate national authority, called a National Focal Point, to coordinate the national efforts of implementing the Abidjan Convention and its Protocol(s). This National Focal Point also serves as a channel of communication between that Contracting Party and the UNEP. The National Focal Point should be a senior government official with strong knowledge and experience in Abidjan Convention matters and should be supported with a budget to implement Convention activities. The National Focal Point is also responsible for coordinating the preparation of the report on the state of the marine and coastal environment. A Focal Points forum has been established to support these activities. The Focal Points forum is also geared towards preparing a detailed work program to present to the Conference of Parties.
The Regional Coordinating Unit (“RCU”), which is hosted in Côte d’Ivoire, is a cooperative body that oversees the implementation of the Action Plan and works in cooperation with the Abidjan Convention Secretariat at the UNEP. With the Abidjan Convention Secretariat being transferred to Côte d’Ivoire, the aim is for the RCU to function as a Secretariat for the Abidjan Convention. A Coordinator has been hired to head the RCU and, along with key staff, to provide leadership during the revitalization process. The work of the RCU includes: strengthening programs in the Action Plan through support services and coordination; fundraising and coordinating with bilateral and multilateral donors; enhancing cooperation with other major projects and initiatives working towards the protection and sustainable development of the marine and coastal environment in the region; improving working relationships with the United Nations and other organizations on relevant projects; and establishing institutions throughout the region to conduct research and promote policies on coastal and marine environmental issues.
Under the revitalization program for the Abidjan Convention, the focus, in terms of enhancing institutional arrangements, has been on strengthening relationships with the Guinea, Benguela, and Canary Currents LMEs. As part of this approach, the Contracting Parties agreed to grant the LMEs special status as advisors to the Abidjan Convention Secretariat. In addition, the Abidjan Convention and the LMEs, as well as other relevant national and regional institutions that have coastal and marine environment programs, would work towards the development of cooperation frameworks. The Abidjan Convention and its Protocol(s) would aim to serve as the regional platform and legal framework for the activities of the LMEs, as well as other relevant national and regional institutions, concerning the coastal and marine environment in the Convention area. Under this approach, the LMEs would be primarily responsible for implementing the various activities and work programs concerning the coastal and marine environment, with the Abidjan Convention’s role being to coordinate and monitor. While the Benguela and Guinea Currents LMEs already have commissions in place, the Canary Current LME currently does not, and the Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission (composed of Cape Verde, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Senegal, Guinea, and Sierra Leone) would support the implementation of the Abidjan Convention in the Canary Current LME area. In addition to this collaborative relationship with the LMEs, the stakeholders stated that the Abidjan Convention should continue to work with other relevant projects and programs in the region and to utilize existing institutional structures, at every level, for its work.
The revitalization program also calls for the strengthening of the National Focal Points, who would serve both the Abidjan Convention and the LMEs, and for a closer collaboration with the government agencies that would actually be implementing the relevant projects. To achieve this aim, the Contracting Parties agreed that, where practicable, countries should implement multi-sector national committees in order to coordinate the activities of the Abidjan Convention and the LMEs, as well as to provide support to the National Focal Points for the implementation, at the national and local levels, of the Abidjan Convention. In addition, the stakeholders requested that each National Focal Point provide the Secretariat with reports on its national coastal and marine environment and on the status of its implementation of the relevant Abidjan Convention work programs.
The Abidjan Convention relies on pre-existing capabilities already available throughout the region and on the support of other regional and international organizations. Especially with the UNEP as the Secretariat of the Abidjan Convention, the Contracting Parties seek to engage with multilateral institutions to work towards the goals of protecting the coastal and marine environment and encouraging sustainable development along Africa’s Atlantic coast. For example, projects in the Benguela Current LME are being done in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (“UNDP”) and the multinational Benguela Environment Fisheries Interaction and Training Research Project. The Secretariat has also formed a partnership with Wetlands International in Senegal to support the National Focal Points in developing a Conservation Strategy for the West African Manatee.
The Abidjan Convention has been working to integrate its work programs with those of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (“NEPAD”) Environmental Initiatives and to serve as a platform for implementing those NEPAD initiatives related to the coastal and marine environment along Africa’s Atlantic coast. NEPAD and the Abidjan Convention aim, through targeted interventions that address both environmental and socioeconomic concerns, to promote awareness and commitment to the sustainable development of coastal resources. NEPAD’s Action Plan on the Environment Initiative has concentrated on projects that will preserve Africa’s environmental resources, alleviate poverty, and foster sub-regional and regional integration. For example, in November 2007, the Abidjan and Nairobi Conventions, in cooperation with NEPAD and under the umbrella of the Africa Union, organized a Joint Conference of Parties in South Africa. In addition, the Abidjan Convention is engaged in collaborative efforts with many other multinational institutions. For example, it has partnered with the IMO to work on institutional capacity building and resource development. It has also worked with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization on functional clean technologies, waste management, sustainable coastal tourism, strengthening institutional capacities, environmental management, and policy and legal frameworks. But, the UNEP has noted that some stakeholders, such as universities, research institutions, and certain ministries with oversight over keys sectors (e.g., fisheries, agriculture, finance, planning, foreign affairs, trade and industry, energy, wildlife, tourism, water, mineral), have had little involvement to date with the Abidjan Convention.
According to Article 17 of the Abidjan Convention, the Contracting Parties, at their regularly scheduled and extraordinary Conferences of Parties, will adopt decisions concerning activities to be undertaken under the Abidjan Convention and its Protocol(s). Decisions made at the meetings of the Contracting Parties appear to be made by consensus. The Abidjan Convention, the Protocol, the Action Plan, and related activities and programs that have been undertaken concerning the coastal and marine environment in the region emphasize cooperation with other organizations and between the Contracting Parties. Under Article 18 of the Abidjan Convention, the Contracting Parties, at a Conference of Plenipotentiaries requested by two-thirds of the Contracting Parties, may adopt additional Protocols to the Convention. In addition, under Article 19, any Contracting Party can propose an amendment to the Abidjan Convention. An amendment must be adopted by a two-thirds majority of the Contracting Parties and will enter into force 12 months after its approval.
For the revitalization process, upon the request of the Contracting Parties, the UNEP, in cooperation with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (“IUCN”), conducted a study on the revitalization of the Abidjan Convention. For more information on the revitalization process, see Additional Remarks.
According to Article 24 of the Abidjan Convention, when a dispute arises between Contracting Parties as to the interpretation or application of the Convention or its related Protocol(s), the Contracting Parties shall seek a settlement of the dispute through negotiations or any other peaceful means of their choice. If the dispute still cannot be settled, the Contracting Parties shall submit the dispute to arbitration. Although Article 24 calls for the Contracting Parties to adopt an annex detailing the arbitration process, it does not appear that the Contracting Parties have done so to date.
Under Article 22 of the Abidjan Convention, the Contracting Parties should transmit to the UNEP reports on the measures they adopted in implementing the Convention and its Protocol(s). In addition, each Contracting Party should also provide the UNEP, according to Articles 12 and 3 respectively, with information concerning pollution emergencies and any additional agreements entered into concerning the protection of the marine and coastal environment in the Convention area. The UNEP, as the Secretariat, will send these reports to the other Contracting Parties, as required by Article 16 of the Abidjan Convention. And according to Article 13, the Contracting Parties should develop procedures to share information regarding their environmental assessments of potentially harmful activity. Furthermore, as the Contracting Parties are meant to cooperate, according to Article 14 of the Abidjan Convention, in the fields of scientific research and development, monitoring, and assessments of pollution in the Convention area, the Contracting Parties should exchange with each other relevant data and other scientific information related to the Abidjan Convention and its Protocol(s). In addition, under Article 5 of the Protocol, each Contracting Party is also obligated to provide the Secretariat and the other Contracting Parties with information on its National Focal Point; its relevant laws, regulations, and other legal instruments; and its national marine emergency contingency plans. And as part of the revitalization program, the stakeholders requested that each National Focal Point provide the Secretariat with reports on its national coastal and marine environment and on the status of its implementation of the relevant Abidjan Convention work programs.
As part of the effort to revitalize the Abidjan Convention, one of the strategies is focused on enhancing the sharing among the Contracting Parties of reliable and up-to-date information, especially if the information could lead to a better understanding among the Contracting Parties of the benefits of the Abidjan Convention. The Abidjan Convention stakeholders recommended that the Contracting Parties adopt a specific information and data sharing policy to cover issues related to the sustainable development of the coastal and marine environment in the Convention area. In addition, under the revitalization plan, the Contracting Parties asked the Secretariat to create a database and web-based information sharing system that would allow the Contracting Parties, as well as other stakeholders, to access information on the value and benefits of the Abidjan Convention.
Under Article 7 of the Protocol, each Contracting Party must require masters of ships flying its flag, pilots of aircraft registered in its territory, and persons in charge of offshore structures operating under its jurisdiction to report, using the most rapid and adequate channels: (a) all accidents causing, or likely to cause pollution, of the sea by oil or other harmful substances; and (b) the presence, characteristics, and extent of spillages of oil or other harmful substances observed at sea which are likely to present a serious and imminent threat to the marine environment, coast, or related interests of the Contracting Parties. After a Contracting Party becomes aware of a pollution emergency in the Convention area, it should notify the UNEP and, either indirectly through the UNEP or directly to the appropriate national authority, any other Contracting Party likely to be affected by the pollution emergency. If there is a request for help during a marine emergency, according to Article 8 of the Protocol, the result of this request for assistance should be reported to the UNEP and the other Contracting Parties. This report should be supplemented with information about future developments concerning the incident. The Annex to the Protocol details what the contents of these reports should be.
The Abidjan Convention is dependent on donor funds and United Nations support to fully operate. At the start of the Abidjan Convention, the Executive Director of the UNEP contributed US $1.4 million (contingent upon matching funds from the Trust Fund) for the implementation costs of the Action Plan from 1981-1983. An Abidjan Convention Trust Fund was established and supposed to be financed by proportional contributions, based on a United Nations scale, from the Contracting Parties in order to fund the Action Plan. The majority of countries in the Convention area (Angola, Benin, Cape Verde, the Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mauritania, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo, and Cameroon) were scheduled to contribute 3.72% (US $37,200 in 1982 and US $55,800 in 1983) towards the final budget of the Action Plan. The other levels of contribution were 4.94% (Gabon, Zaire (present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo) – US $49,400 in 1982 and US $74,100 in 1983), 6.16% (Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire – US $61,600 in 1982 and US $92,400 in 1983), and 22.01% (Nigeria – US $220,100 in 1982 and US $330,150 in 1983). But, contributions to the Abidjan Convention Trust Fund have been limited – amounting to only US $112,500 from 2004-2007. Assessed annual contributions by the Contracting Parties were supposed to reach US $1 million. For 2008, the majority of the assessed contributions were for US $18,600 (for Benin, Cameroon, the Republic of the Congo, Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo). Other levels of pledged contributions were US $24,700 (Gabon), US $30,800 (Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana), US $37,500 (South Africa), and US $110,050 (Nigeria). The Secretariat of the Abidjan Convention does most of its work through partnerships. For example, the UNEP and the UNDP are funding Guinea Current LME projects (US $21.49 million); the UNDP is funding Benguela Current LME projects (US $15 million); and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (“FAO”) and the UNEP are funding Canary Current LME projects (US $12 million).
In 1994, the Contracting Parties agreed to waive all accumulated payment arrears in hopes that this would improve future contribution levels. As part of efforts to revitalize the Abidjan Convention, one of the main focuses is on improving the Contracting Parties’ contributions to the Trust Fund in order to strengthen the implementation of the Abidjan Convention. At an extraordinary Conference of Parties meeting in 2008, the Contracting Parties agreed to make prompt payments to the Trust Fund and to continue using the assessed proportional scale to determine the level of contributions each Contracting Party is required to make. The Contracting Parties also agreed to again waive the payment arrears that had accumulated as of November 2007, with the exception of 10% of the total accumulated arrears that the Contracting Parties are still required to pay. This 10% of unpaid pledges amounts to a total of US $201,690. The Contracting Parties established biennial contributions for the Trust Fund at US $56,571 (for the Republic of the Congo, Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Togo, Benin, Guinea – the original 3.72% countries), US $80,000 (for Cameroon – originally 3.72%, Côte d’Ivoire – originally 6.16%, Gabon – originally 4.94%), US $90,000 (for Ghana – originally 6.16%, Senegal – originally 3.72%), and US $92,000 (for Nigeria – originally 22.01%, South Africa – which was not a Contracting Party in 1982). These assessed contributions would add up to an annual budget of US $500,000 and are based on the original assessment percentages agreed to in 1982, taking into the accounting the accession of South Africa and the countries that have not yet ratified the Abidjan Convention. The Secretariat also agreed to undertake additional actions, such as efforts to encourage in-kind contributions for national level projects, to strengthen the financial resources base of the Abidjan Convention. The UNEP has also suggested that the Abidjan Convention figure out ways to solicit funds from the private sector, civil society, and other bilateral and multilateral entities that operate in the Convention area.
The Abidjan Convention is focused primarily on collaborative partnerships to promote the marine environment and sustainable coastal development in the Convention area.
Under Article 22 of the Abidjan Convention, the Contracting Parties should provide the UNEP with reports on measures that they have adopted to implement the Convention and its Protocol(s). Otherwise, there are no specific provisions regarding compliance and monitoring. See Data Information Sharing, Exchange, and Harmonization.
The Abidjan Convention encourages the Contracting Parties to collaborate with other organizations, public and private, to protect the marine environment and to promote sustainable coastal development. The IUCN, the IMO, and the Swedish International Development Agency (“SIDA”), among other organizations, have already worked to implement programs under the Abidjan Convention. For example, the IUCN assisted in the development of the Abidjan Convention’s revitalization program. The UNEP and SIDA have initiated a program to promote coordination mechanisms, as well as management and assessment activities, in the Convention areas of the Abidjan and Nairobi Conventions. The FAO, the Fishery Commission for the Eastern Central Atlantic, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, and IUCN have all partnered with the Abidjan Convention to develop a regional networking mechanism to monitor and manage fisheries mangroves and their ecosystems. This partnership also assists with stock assessment and the conservation of endangered species and promotes sustainable fisheries policies and legislation. In another example, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission/Ocean Data and Information Network Africa have helped implement regional data exchange and information management programs.
As part of the plan to revitalize the Abidjan Convention, the Contracting Parties and the Secretariat aim to develop partnerships with stakeholders in the marine and coastal sectors (such as fisheries, ports, and industries) in the Convention area. These partnerships would be used to mobilize technical and financial resources to benefit the implementation of the Abidjan Convention. In addition, the revitalization process also focuses on collaboration with the three LMEs (the Benguela, Canary, and Guinea Currents) located in the Convention Area. See Organization Structure.
Under Article 30 of the Abidjan Convention, at any time after five years from the date of entry into force of the Abidjan Convention (i.e., five years from 5 August 1984), any Contracting Party may withdraw from the Convention or any Protocol by giving written notification of its withdrawal. The withdrawal will take effect 90 days after the date on which the notification of withdrawal is received by the Depositary (Côte d’Ivoire). Any Contracting Party which, upon its withdrawal from a Protocol, is no longer a party to any Protocol of the Abidjan Convention, will also be considered to have withdrawn from the Abidjan Convention.
The Abidjan Convention calls for the Contracting Parties to adopt additional protocols to prevent, reduce, combat, and control pollution and to promote environmental management. Although the Abidjan Convention and its Protocol on pollution in emergency situations came into effect in 1984, no other protocols have yet been adopted. The Contracting Parties have negotiated a Draft Protocol to the Abidjan Convention Concerning Cooperation in the Protection of the Marine and Coastal Environment from Land-Based Sources and Activities (“LBSA Protocol”). The initial draft of the LSBA Protocol was first developed in 2005, which was followed by capacity building workshops in the countries in the Guinea Current LME and review and input from all of the Contracting Parties. Further negotiations on the text of the draft occurred at a meeting of legal and technical experts that occurred in Ghana in 2009. After the text of the LBSA Protocol is finalized, it will be submitted for adoption at a Conference of Plenipotentiaries, and then to all governments in the Convention Area for ratification.
African governments renewed their commitment to the protection and management of the coastal and marine environment in December 1998 in the Cape Town Declaration. At Cape Town, the African governments also called for the strengthening of the Abidjan and Nairobi Conventions in order for them to be used as the overarching platform for cooperation, synergies, and intergovernmental dialogue concerning the coastal and marine environmental management across sub-Saharan Africa. In 2005, at the Seventh Conference of the Contracting Parties, the Contracting Parties of the Abidjan Convention established a new ecosystem-based coordination structure that is focused on the Benguela, Guinea, and Canary Currents LMEs. Aside from the revitalization program, other efforts, such as establishing a network of Focal Points, have also aimed to reinvigorate the Abidjan Convention.
A UNEP comprehensive review of the Abidjan Convention, released in 2007, recommended raising public awareness of the economic value of the marine and coastal resources located in the Convention area in order to encourage broad-based participation and support for environmental actions. In addition, the UNEP review proposed strengthening the Abidjan Convention Secretariat in order for it to be able to secure financing mechanisms through active resource mobilization, negotiate for affordable contributions from the Contracting Parties, and broaden membership to include additional partners and donors (such as multinational oil companies operating in the region). The UNEP review also recommended that the Abidjan Convention take advantage of the numerous other environmental initiatives in the region and function, through effective coordination and consultation, as the legal framework for all marine and coastal related projects in the region.
At the Eighth Conference of Parties in November 2007, the Contracting Parties agreed to undertake a program to revitalize the Abidjan Convention. Upon the request of the Contracting Parties, the UNEP, in cooperation with the IUCN, conducted a study on ways to revitalize the Abidjan Convention and has led the efforts to support and coordinate activities to promote the revitalization. After the study was completed, stakeholders, in an April 2008 meeting, reviewed the findings and released a series of recommendations on the revitalization program. The stakeholders meeting was attended by the National Focal Points from 12 out of the 14 Contracting Parties, representatives from 7 of the 8 countries in the Convention area that have had not yet ratified the Abidjan Convention, representatives from the Guinea, Beguela, and Canary LMEs, and representatives from non-profit organizations and international institutions. The Bureau to the Convention evaluated those recommendations and prepared draft decisions concerning the revitalization program to present to the Contracting Parties at an extraordinary Conference of Parties meeting. And then at the extraordinary Conference of Parties meeting, the Contracting Parties adopted a revitalization program from these draft decisions. The revitalization program and action plan for the Abidjan Convention, as adopted by the Contracting Parties in the extraordinary Conference of Parties meeting in 2008, is focused on: (a) strengthening institutional arrangements and improving collaboration; (b) promoting ratification and accession to the Convention; (c) reviewing the mandate and objectives of the Convention; (d) transferring the Secretariat from Nairobi, Kenya to Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire; (e) improving contributions to the Trust Fund and otherwise funding the Convention; (f) enhancing the roles of the National Focal Points; and (g) enacting an action plan for the revitalization of the Abidjan Convention. The scope of the activities encompassed in the revitalization process is expected to last two years, within the four year 2008-2011 work program for the Abidjan Convention.
- Abidjan Convention, available at http://www.unep.org/abidjanConvention/.
- Report of the First Extraordinary Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Abidjan Convention – Decision on the Revitalization of the Abidjan Convention, 23 Apr. 2009, available at http://www.unep.org/AbidjanConvention/docs/Final_Abidjan_Convention_Report_of_the_Extraordinary_Ministerial_Meeting_June_2008.pdf.
- Report of the Eighth Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Convention for Cooperation in the Protection and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the West and Central African Region, 14 Feb. 2008, available at http://www.unep.org/AbidjanConvention/docs/K0820275%20COP8%20Report-DEPI-WAF-CP-8.pdf.
- Report of the Stakeholders Meeting on the Revitalization of the Convention for Cooperation in the Protection and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the West and Central African Region, 24 Apr. 2008, available at http://www.unep.org/AbidjanConvention/docs/Report%20of%20the%20Stakeholders%20meeting%20on%20the%20Revitalization%20of%20the%20Abidjan%20Convention%20April%202008%20Dakar.pdf.
- United Nations Environment Programme, Programme: Abidjan Convention, Report of a Comprehensive Review and Strategy Document for the Abidjan Convention, 27 Aug. 2007, available at http://www.unep.org/AbidjanConvention/docs/AbidjanStrategyDocument.pdf.
- Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem Programme, available at http://www.bclme.org/.
- Interim Guinea Current Commission, available at http://igcc.gclme.org/.
- David M. Dzidzornu, Marine Pollution Control in the West and Central African Region, 20 QUEEN’S L.J. 439 (1994-1995).
- In Depth Case Analysis on the Benguela Current LME — by admin — last modified Oct 27, 2013 09:06 AM
- Kevin Stephanus - Benguela Current LME from IWRP on Vimeo.
- In Depth Case Analysis on the Guinea Current LME — by admin — last modified Oct 27, 2013 09:06 AM
- Walter Lichem, Guinea Current LME from IWRP on Vimeo.
- Implementation of the Strategic Action Programme (SAP) Toward Achievement of the Integrated Management of the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (LME)
- Volta River Basin Strategic Action Programme Implementation Project
- Western Indian Ocean Marine Highway Development and Coastal and Marine Contamination Prevention Project
- Protection of the Canary Current Large Marine Ecosystem (LME)
- Senegal River Basin Water and Environmental Management Programme
- Managing Hydrogeological Risk in the Iullemeden Aquifer System
- Water Pollution Control and Biodiversity Conservation in the Gulf of Guinea Large Marine Ecosystem (GOGLME)
- Development and Protection of the Coastal and Marine Environment in Sub-Saharan Africa (CMEA)
- LME-AF Strategic Partnership for Sustainable Fisheries Management in the Large Marine Ecosystems in Africa (PROGRAM)
- Addressing Land-based Activities in the Western Indian Ocean
- Reversal of Land and Water Degradation Trends in the Lake Chad Basin Ecosystem
- Development and Adoption of a Strategic Action Program for Balancing Water Uses and Sustainable Natural Resource Management in the Orange-Senqu River Transboundary Basin
- Demonstrating and Capturing Best Practices and Technologies for the Reduction of Land-sourced Impacts Resulting from Coastal Tourism
- Programme for the Agulhas and Somali Current Large Marine Ecosystems: Agulhas and Somali Current Large Marine Ecosystems Project (ASCLME)
- West Africa Regional Fisheries Program APL B1
- West Africa Regional Fisheries Program in Ghana
- Global - Applying an Ecosystem-based Approach to Fisheries Management: Focus on Seamounts in the Southern Indian Ocean
- West Africa Regional Fisheries Program SOP C1
- Reducing Dependence on POPs and other Agro-Chemicals in the Senegal and Niger River Basins through Integrated Production, Pest and Pollution Management
- SIP-Equatorial Africa Deposition Network (EADN)
- Reversing Land and Water Degradation Trends in the Niger River Basin
- Addressing Transboundary Concerns in the Volta River Basin and its Downstream Coastal Area
- Senegal River Basin Climate Change Resilience Development Project
- Mano River Union Ecosystem Conservation and International Water Resources Management (IWRM) Project
- Integrated Development for Increased Rural Climate Resilience in the Niger Basin
- Reduction of Environmental Impact from Tropical Shrimp Trawling Through the Introduction of By-Catch Reduction Technologies and Change of Management
- Removal of Barriers to the Effective Implementation of Ballast Water Control and Management Measures in Developing Countries (GloBallast)
- Sustainable Management of Fish Resources - under the Strategic Partnership for a Sustainable Fisheries Investment Fund in the Large Marine Ecosystems of Sub-Saharan Africa
- Distance Learning and Information Sharing Tool for the Benguela Coastal Areas (DLIST-Benguela)
- Realizing the Inclusive and Sustainable Development in the BCLME Region through the Improved Ocean Governmence and the Integrated Management of Ocean Use and Marine Resources
- Regional Coordination on Improved Water Resources Management and Capacity Building Horizontal Adaptable Programmatic Programme (H-APL)(TA)
- West Africa Regional Fisheries Program (WARFP)
- Building Partnerships to Assist Developing Countries to Reduce the Transfer of Harmful Aquatic Organisms in Ships' Ballast Water (GloBallast Partnerships)
- LCB-NREE Lake Chad Basin Regional Program for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Natural Resources and Energy Efficiency (PROGRAM)
- Implementation of the Strategic Action Programme for the Protection of the Western Indian Ocean from Land-based Sources and Activities
- Implementation of the Benguela Current LME Action Program for Restoring Depleted Fisheries and Reducing Coastal Resources Degradation
- Combating Living Resource Depletion and Coastal Area Degradation in the Guinea Current LME through Ecosystem-based Regional Actions
- Improving IWRM Knowledge based Management and Governance of the Niger Basin and the Iullemeden Taoudeni Tanezrouft Aquifer System (ITTAS)
- Mainstreaming Groundwater Considerations into the Integrated Management of the Nile River Basin
- Improving Lake Chad Management through Building Climate Change Resilience and Reducing Ecosystem Stress through Implementaion of the SAP
- Western Indian Ocean LMEs Strategic Action Programme Policy Harmonization and Institutional Reforms SAPPHIRE Project
- Sustainable Groundwater Management in SADC Member States
- Southern African Development Community - SADC - Groundwater and Drought Management Project
- Southwest Indian Ocean Fisheries Project (SWIOFP)