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The ESA-IO region includes island and coastal States with extensive coastlines, offshore islands and exclusive economic zones rich in natural resources, characterized by the presence of migratory emblematic species, which are globally threatened such as nesting seabirds, sea turtles, marine mammals, etc (source: International Union for the Conservation of Nature, IUCN), but highly vulnerable.
In the past, the Eastern and Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean (ESA-IO) region was richer in biodiversity and endemic species, and ecosystem services played a central role in sustaining local populations and more recently in economic development. But many have become degraded as a result of the pressure of human population expansion and economic development. Impacts have included habitat destruction, overexploitation of living and water resources, pollution, soil degradation, and the (often inadvertent) introduction of invasive alien species. Climate change may already be causing an increase in the extent, frequency and severity of natural processes such as coastal erosion, storms, droughts, wild fires and seawater intrusion etc. The adverse impacts on ecosystems and loss of vital habitats have not been tempered by any particularly cohesive policy response.
Nevertheless, the region’s diverse tropical marine habitats (barrier reefs, fringing reefs, sea grass beds, mangroves, estuaries, lagoons, coral cays and atolls, banks, shoals, seamounts, upwellings and the open ocean) still support a wealth of marine biodiversity. For example, Madagascar’s western barrier reef is the third longest in the world and the Mascarene Banks and Shoals have one of the world’s most extensive sea grass habitats. And although some tuna stocks are declining, the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) still supports one of the least degraded fisheries in the world. Extensive consultation with stakeholders in the region revealed a limited capacity to effectively manage the use of biodiversity and this is mainly due to the following reasons:
In the simplest of terms, biological diversity is the variety of life and its processes; and it includes the variety of living organisms, the genetic differences among them, and the communities and ecosystems in which they occur’.
The geographical scope of this programme will follow the definition of the coastal zone as per national Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) legislation. Within this approach, the coastal zone can generally be defined as extending from ~100km inland to the 200 nautical mile limit. However, the extent of the coastal zone varies according to a range of local national circumstance including the geographical context. For small islands states, it can include the whole territory of the country. For larger islands and continental states, the definition will be based on the national ICZM legislation.
The Biodiversity Programme aims to build on existing, or, where necessary, develop new tools that are appropriate, functional and practical in enhancing biodiversity conservation and its use. Such tools may include the development and/or dissemination of Guidelines on Best Practice.
The programme seeks to promote social and economic policies and associated mechanisms that contribute towards sustainable development and ultimately poverty alleviation. The effectiveness of these policies may be enhanced through practical support for their implementation including the implementation of regional and national commitments to international treaties and conventions.
Under the new partnership agreement established between the Indian Ocean Commission and the Nairobi Convention secretariat, the programme supports actions to strengthen and build on the exchange mechanisms put in place to support the implementation of the regional action plans under the related conventions such as the Nairobi Convention as well as the UN Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) and the United Nations Convention to Combat Diversification (UNCCD). The Programme also focus on strengthening institutional capacity in the ESA-IO region to better manage the use of coastal, marine and island specific biological resources at regional, national and community levels. The link with regional institutions, notably the Nairobi Convention Secretariat, contributes to enhance regional cooperation and hence contribute towards regional integration through a more collaborative approach to regulate trade and commerce and to reduce illegal harvesting of natural resources such as endemic plants, coral and animal species.
This choice of focus is in line with the EU development aid policy as well as the priorities set by the region through its own existing strategies and policies. The Programme will build on the experience and lessons learnt, from recent and on-going programmes in the region to adapt best practices to local needs.
Total Cost (EUR): 15 000 000
EU contracted amount (EUR): 15 000 000
Duration: December 2012 - November 2018
Implementing organisation: Indian Ocean Commission
Funding Instrument: European Development Fund (EDF)
Benefitting zone: Indian Ocean