During the UN Ocean Conference on 5-9 June 2017 at UN Headquarters in New York, the national government and other organizations in Cape Verde registered eleven commitments to Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG 14), which aims to protect “life below water” and a healthy ocean, critical for live on our planet. The number of commitments made demonstrates the country’s commitment to supporting both marine life and those whose lives and livelihoods depend on the sea. This follows the convening of the Blue Growth and Africa Economy Conference in Mindelo on 3-5 May 2017, which brought together representatives from countries in the region to discuss how to promote blue growth policies and investment strategies across Africa.
[Photo: Fundação Maio Biodiversidade / Maio Biodiversity Foundation http://fmb-maio.org]
The majority of commitments were made by the Government of Cape Verde, which announced five commitments at the Conference, including commitments related to protected areas (SDG 14, target 5) from the Directorate of Environment to conserve and restore marine biodiversity resources on the Santa Luzia-Raso-Branco Marine Protected Area (MPA) and to safeguard marine and coastal biodiversity from current and emerging threats, by enhancing the enabling and regulatory frameworks in the tourism sector and activating a critical further subset of the national protected areas system. Also in terms of tourism, UK-based NGO the Travel Foundation committed to develop good practice guidelines for nature-based tourism excursions in Cape Verde by December 2018.
Several commitments focused on protecting and sustainably managing marine and coastal ecosystems (SDG 14, target 2). For example, the GEF Small Grants Programme registered a commitment to protect marine turtles and nesting beaches through the involvement of the local population of Joo Galego, Cabea Tarafes and Fundo Figueiras. An NGO working on a similar initiative in Maio Island, the Maio Biodiversity Foundation, committed to implement a comprehensive, sustainable and community-supported turtle conservation programme that aims to have a long-lasting impact through the eradication of local illegal harvesting of sea turtle eggs and adults and the minimization of natural and human-caused disturbances of turtle habitats within the next three years.
Commitments were also made by civil society organizations (CSOs), including CALAO Luxembourg ASBL, which committed to protect the islands’ biodiversity from marine debris (SDG 14, target 1), in partnership with the Global Ghost Gear Initiative and support from the European Investment Bank. CSOs Biosfera 1 and Portuguese Society for Birds Studies (SPEA) committed to the sustainable management of the Santa Luzia MPA, through improvement of the conservation status of several endemic and vulnerable species and monitoring the area's important seabird colonies and turtle nesting beaches.
At international level, a regional commitment was announced by a network of organizations, including from Cape Verde the National Institute for Fisheries Development (INDP) and the Network of Parliamentarians for the Environment, Combating Desertification and Poverty (RPALCDP). The PADDLE project aims to elevate policy innovation at the heart of the development of tropical marine spatial planning (MSP) to develop a more inclusive “Atlantic Community” and improve the governance of marine resources in the region. Financed by the European Commission, it will bring together researchers and actors from countries bordering the Tropical Atlantic and from the EU to create a network, which will build theory and create methods for a pertinent MSP in tropical zones by means of a collaborative platform.
The other commitments made by the Directorate of Environment were to enhance the capacities for marine biodiversity conservation and sustainable use and to create and implement comprehensive frameworks for maritime sector planning and threat management. In addition, the Maritime Administration committed to develop and implement the National Marine Pollution Contingency Plan to respond effectively to large oil spills or other contaminants, within the next two years.
More than 1,300 commitments were made during the Ocean Conference and the commitments registry remains open on an ongoing basis for the submission of further commitments. Progress on the implementation of SDG 14 to date was reviewed at the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development at UN Headquarters in New York on 13 July 2017.