President Azali Assoumani to discuss how to leverage the potential of the oceans, seas and rivers for sustainable development.
The meeting resulted in the adoption of a strategy known as the Moroni declaration, which outlines a common vision and commitment to promoting the blue economy as a key driver of growth, innovation and resilience in Africa.
The blue economy refers to the sustainable use of oceans, rivers and lakes resources for economic and social benefits while preserving the health and diversity of marine ecosystems.
According to the UN Economic Commission for Africa, the blue economy could contribute up to $1.5 trillion to the global economy if effectively and sustainably managed.
Africa has a unique position in the global blue economy, with 38 coastal states, 90% of its imports and exports conducted by sea, and an estimated value added of $100 billion generated by coastal tourism by 2030. The continent also has 49 million jobs currently generated in the blue economy sectors, and a projected value of $405 billion by 2030.
The meeting in Moroni discussed also the implementation of the Great Blue Wall initiative, which offers an Africa-driven roadmap to enhance maritime security and governance and support coastal communities in adapting to climate change and building resilience.
Antonio Pedro, the acting Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa stressed that by conserving and restoring critical marine and coastal ecosystems, enhancing socio-ecological resilience, and developing a regenerative blue economy, this initiative has the potential to unlock livelihood opportunities for 70 million people in the Western Indian
"We aspire to create a future where people in our coastal communities thrive, and lead prosperous and healthy lives while preserving our precious biodiversity and respecting cultural practices related to the sea,’ he said.
On the path to turning weaknesses into strengths
President Azali Assoumani highlighted how coastal and island states face many challenges such as climate change, illegal fishing, piracy, pollution, overexploitation of resources, lack of infrastructure and skills, and weak institutional and regulatory frameworks. He however said that island states can turn their weaknesses into strengths and opportunities by leveraging their unique advantages and potential.
Musa Faki Mahama, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission made a strong appeal for the implementation of the African Union Strategy and Plan of Action on Climate Change and Development 2022-2032. He said that this strategy was crucial for achieving sustainable development and addressing the challenges posed by climate change in Africa.
He also urged the to pursue a low-carbon development path, in line with the African Union Green Recovery Action Plan for Sustainable Development.
“Today African countries have the opportunity to redirect their development towards a low-carbon a low-carbon development path”, he said.
The Moroni declaration
The participants agreed on a set of priority actions to implement the Moroni declaration, such as deepening trade relationships between Island States and other States throughout the AfCFTA, expanding the regional maritime security architecture for the Western Indian Ocean and advocating for increased public and private investment in; sustainable coastal and marine value chains, promoting, among others, responsible and sustainable fisheries, green infrastructures, ecotourism, renewable energies, and blue innovation.
The Moroni declaration will serve as a basis for engaging with other regions and stakeholders in advancing the blue economy agenda at the global level.
The declaration is expected to be endorsed by global leaders during global events such as the 2023African Climate Action Summit to be held in Kenya, the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai, and during the Conference of Small Island Developing States in Antigua and Barbuda.
The Moroni ministerial Conference was organised by the Government of Comoros in partnership with the African Union Commission (AUC), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (EC), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).