Liberia Hosts West Africa’s Blue Oceans Conference March 18-21

March 15, 2019

“This conference provides a platform to identify ground-breaking solutions to ensure the sustainable management of our ecosystem. Protecting our beaches, coastal and marine resources are key to our survival as a nation and its in direct alignment with Liberia National Development Agenda; the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development there is no time for excuses,” said Nathaniel Blama, the Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency, speaking on behalf of the government’s Steering Committee which he chairs along with Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA) and the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA).

Focusing on the themes of marine pollution, climate change, sustainable fishing, and the sustainable use of the ocean for economic growth (the “blue economy”), the conference will identify innovative solutions for ensuring the long-term sustainability of Africa’s marine environment and reversing the decline in the health of the ocean for people, the planet and prosperity.

The ocean has a large depository of plastic debris and other pollutants including riverine discharges, agricultural, sediment, solid waste and agricultural run-offs. In addition, coastal and marine habitats and resources are under threat from pollution, over-harvesting of resources, inappropriate development in the coastal zone, and poor inland and land-based management.

Most Liberia’s population lives within 30 miles of the coast where they are increasingly vulnerable to climate change. Challenges associated with climate change and ocean acidification require enhanced vulnerability and impact assessments, mitigation and adaptation plans, resilience building and disaster risk reduction strategies.

The conference aims to build on the impact being made and increase the likelihood of furthering the policies needed to address climate change.

West Africa is rich in marine resources but often much of the potential benefits from fisheries do not flow back into the region.

The call for a “Blue Economy” portion of the conference will focus on the decoupling of socio-economic development from environmental degradation. Two particularly significant pieces of current and future blue economic growth across in Liberia are tourism and shipping.

The conference comes at a time when Liberia is looking to diversify its economy for broader growth.

“Building off the momentum of the conferences in both New York and Nairobi, we are excited to take the conversation forward and look at practical next steps for West Africa’s ocean conservation. This is a major opportunity for Liberia to join global efforts to conserve our oceans,” said Conservation International Liberia Country Director Jessica Donovan.

About Conservation International

Conservation International uses science, policy and partnerships to protect the nature that people rely on for food, fresh water and livelihoods. Founded in 1987, Conservation International works in more than 30 countries on six continents to ensure a healthy, prosperous planet that supports us all. Learn more about Conservation International, the groundbreaking “Nature Is Speaking” campaign and its series of virtual reality projects: “My Africa”, “Under the Canopy” and “Valen’s Reef.” Follow Conservation International’s work on our Human Nature blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.