African Day of Seas and Oceans: Africa is responding to call for sustainable use of resources, says Seychelles' President
Ramkalawan highlighted the need to foster more collaboration and partnerships across African nations - for there is strength in numbers. (State House)
The adoption and implementation of Africa's Blue Economy Continental Strategy indicate that the continent is responding to a global call urging humanity to review and rethink the manner it operates within its natural environment.
The statement was made by Seychelles' President Wavel Ramkalawan in his address on the occasion of the African Day of Seas and Oceans on Tuesday, July 25.
The African Day of Seas and Oceans is one of the recommendations of the 2050 African's Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS), which provides a broad framework for the protection and sustainable exploitation of seas and oceans of Africa.
The occasion is being commemorated through a Blue Economy Awareness Week and Ramkalawan said that this is significant, and indicative of the increased significance that African citizens assign to the sustainable development of their aquatic resources.
"This is understandable in view of the many threats that plague our seas and oceans, most of which emanate from global human actions that instigate climate change, and threaten life on earth as we know it," he said.
"At the end of the day, no matter how big or small a part we have played in the global environmental decline, we have all heard and felt the warnings of how humankind's reckless exploits are gradually pulling us into an age of scarcity and deprivation," added Ramkalawan.
The head of state of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, said that "in order for us to move forward and try to take control of our own destiny, it is equally significant for us to focus on the opportunities that have risen out of all these threats."
"Consequently, today we are not only becoming more business-minded in terms of efficiency but also more environmentally cautious and, therefore, more sustainable. Case in point, we are learning how to add value to a single resource, so as to earn more from less," he added.
Ramkalawan gave the example of Seychelles' efforts to fish less but to increase the value of one fish by boosting its fish processing industry.
"There is also our effort to explore the development of new sectors such as circular economy and marine biotechnology to diversify our revenue stream, all the while reducing pressure off our traditional economic sectors, the likes of fisheries and tourism," he highlighted.
Ramkalawan said that one lesson learned from Seychelles' Blue Economy experience is the need to put the people at the centre of development.
"We need to ensure that whatever we are doing is relatable to the general population and that they are thoroughly engaged. We have to be mindful that community or local buy-in is one of the main decisive factors in the extent that any project or initiative is successfully implemented. This is a message that we need to echo far and wide across the continent!" he said.
Seychelles' President said that is why the island nation and the African Union Commission are advocating for increased Blue Economy sensitisation and improved communication strategies.
"Seychelles has piloted an initiative to integrate ocean science in the national school curriculum. This is something that we would encourage other African countries to emulate in the future," he shared.
Ramkalawan also highlighted "the need to foster more collaboration and partnerships across African nations - for there is strength in numbers. Hence, we have to work together to find our true north and to illuminate the pathway to a desirable future for all of Africa's children."