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The Western Indian Ocean region presents challenges that are different from other regions with similar initiatives/challenges. There have been many discussions in the past to ensure better coordination of marine and coastal activities across the region with varying degrees of success. Individual countries have tended to focus on national priorities for coastal management, rather than prioritizing regional partnerships and collaboration. In addition, many regional initiatives have not been adequately linked to national priorities and processes, and as a result have had difficulty in sustaining their actions over the long term. 

Through regional frameworks such as the Nairobi Convention and Indian Ocean Commission, integrated management of coastal and marine resources has been identified as a common concern for all the south west islands of the Indian Ocean and the coastal countries of East Africa. The marine and coastal ecosystems of these countries share common characteristics. Their respective coastal environments are under similar human pressures and are experiencing the effects of similar natural phenomena in the region, including climate change, the influence of marine currents at the south of the Equator and the impacts of monsoon winds or cyclones which particularly affect the island countries. Collaboration between institutions, information exchange and the sharing of experience and resource management tools will enhance regional cooperation and economic integration. Moreover, the majority of fishers in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region are small-scale operators working from shore. Climate change poses risks to their fishing operations on many fronts, from shifts in species distributions and productivity, to changes in ocean chemistry that affect ecosystem health, to more extreme weather events that destroy infrastructure and productive assets. Small-scale fishers can adapt to climate variability by shifting location, species caught, or levels of investment in fishing and competing options, but these individual responses will not be sufficient to boost food security across the region. Development programs have generally poorly served small-scale fisheries, and fishing communities have often excluded from coastal planning and resource management. 

At the national and regional levels, fisheries are under pressure from increased harvesting rates, inequitable and poorly governed trading relations with external and global markets, and ever-greater pressures from competing uses. Furthermore, market chains for many species are not well characterized and trade policy and the costs of adapting to climate change have not been evaluated. Management measures to maintain fish stock and environments are often weak, and undermine the ability to construct climate-resilient fisheries systems. Better integration of small-scale fisheries into development processes, climate change adaptation investments, fisheries and coastal governance and knowledge systems can all help to improve the living and working conditions of fishers, and reduce their vulnerability to economic hardship. 

In a response to this context, the nation states of the region and their partners, including WCS, WWF, CI and TNC, are in the process of launching the “Western Indian Ocean Coastal Challenge” as a “call to action” focused on integrated marine and coastal management that builds on the efforts of the Nairobi Convention, WIO/LAB Strategic Plan, and the Indian Ocean Commission’s efforts to put into place Integrated Coastal Zone Management Action Plans and Locally Management Marine Areas (LMMA) at the country level. The proposed overall goal is: “Coastal economies and communities sustained by safeguarding the region’s vulnerable marine and coastal ecosystems”

Activities & Achievements

FY 2014 Activities and Accomplishments

Upon request from the Government of Seychelles (GoS), The Nature Conservancy briought its conservation finance and its marine spatial planning expertise to assist GoS Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) Steering Committee complete a debt for climate change adaptation. The report, titled ‘An Overview of the Seychelles Marine Spatial Planning Initiative‘, presents the MSP process in Seychelles.

The Western Indian Ocean Coastal Challenge (WIO-CC) is a multilateral platform charged with the sustainable implementation of its mission. WIO‑CC thus is investigating the feasibility of establishing a conservation trust fund (CTF) to support the achievement of this vision, and to meet the financial needs for the planning and management of coastal and marine resources for WIO‑CC participating countries. WCS led a feasibility assessment of the development of the WIO-CC CTF which culminated in the release of a report in January 2014. The report is available here, entitled ‘Developing a Conservation Trust Fund For the Western Indian Ocean Coastal Challenge‘.

FY 2013 Activities and Accomplishments

The Bamako Declaration on the Environment for Sustainable Development urges African states to prepare national adaptation plans, adopt and implement ecosystem-based approaches, and accelerate the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015 and the program of action for the implementation of the African regional strategy for disaster risk reduction.

Given the general weaknesses in terms of environmental governance in the WIO region, the Governments thereof urgently need to be supported in developing a common vision and strategies to address appropriately the cross-cutting impacts of climate change.

ABCG’s members, represented in the WIO by TNC, WCS and WWF, have already underpinned the efforts of the WIO countries in establishing a solid foundation for environmental governance. The small island developing States (SIDS) have launched the Western Indian Ocean Coastal Challenge” (WIO-CC) to mobilize political, financial, and technical commitments and actions of WIO countries at regional and national levels focused on climate change adaptation, promoting resilient ecosystems, sustainable livelihoods and human security within a 20 year vision. ABCG members have worked together to complement these efforts by orienting ABCG support towards the mainland states of Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique in FY 2013.

ABCG member organizations participated in the workshop and facilitated the participation of WIOCC national technical focal points from Kenya and Mozambique, titled “Second technical workshop of the WIOCC held in Flic en Flac, Mauritius during October 22-26 2012”.

ABCG member organizations WCS, WWF, TNC participated in the workshop and facilitated the participation of WIOCC national technical focal points from Kenya and Mozambique, titled “Third technical workshop of the WIOCC held in Seychelles during July 11-12 2013”.

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FY 2012 Activities and Accomplishments

The objective of this ABCG support is to undertake a stocktaking exercise to identify gaps, opportunities, and lessons learned for marine and coastal resources conservation and management, including climate vulnerability and adaptation, in the Western Indian Ocean.

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