Kenya to COP26: Prioritise Blue Economy in talks

Dr Francis Owino, Fisheries, Aquaculture and the Blue Economy PS. [Courtesy]

Kenya has called upon nations to prioritise the ocean action agenda at the UN climate negotiations in Glasgow to save biodiversity from effects of global warming.

“The role of the ocean in climate change mitigation and adaptation, as well as the burden that the ocean ecosystem has to bear due to the impacts of climate change are well documented,” said the Fisheries, Aquaculture and the Blue Economy PS Francis Owino in Glasgow, Tuesday.

Dr Owino, while addressing a high-level dinner in support of “The Ocean – Climate Nexus”, said research had shown that rise in temperatures had triggered mass coral bleaching and mortality on coral reef systems over the past two decades.

“We are witnessing this in our region and we are aware that this is likely to increase oceans’ acidity and change the abundance and composition of fish species, further compromising food and nutrition security and the economy at large,” said Owino.

He gave the nexus between the twin crises in climate and the ocean, saying they must be addressed in tandem.

COP26 therefore provides us, friends of the Ocean, with a lifetime opportunity to call for increased resources for global ocean – climate action to support protection, restoration and sustainable management of ocean ecosystems, including blue carbon habitats,” he said.

He reiterated Kenya’s commitment to the ocean action agenda and climate change response, adding that it was informed by international and regional obligations of adaptation and mitigation designed to local vulnerabilities.

He outlined Kenya’s efforts, including rehabilitation of degraded mangrove ecosystems, development of the first National Mangrove Ecosystems Management Plan (2017 -2027) to guide conservation, management and utilisation of mangrove resources.

“To address the ever-growing threats to fragile sea grass and coral reef ecosystems, we have developed a conservation strategy,” he said.

The PS added that in partnership with World Bank and other stakeholders, Kenya had embarked on development of a Marine Spatial Plan, a step towards achieving a Sustainable Ocean Plan by 2025.

“We have additionally committed to putting 30 per cent of our oceans under highly protested Marine Protected Areas by 2030,” Owino said.