The President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo pledged Ghana’s commitment to ensuring sustainable ocean management and called for a renewed commitment from all stakeholders to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 to protect life below water.
The President made the call at the opening of a two-day maiden National Blue Economy Summit, held in Accra, from 31st May-1st June 2023 on the theme “Our Ocean’s Heath, Our Prosperity, Our Planet’s Security”.
The Summit was organized by the SDGs Advisory Unit of the Office of the President, in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Ghana, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). It aimed to mobilize transformative actions to sustainably manage the ocean towards SDGs achievement.
“The ocean presents an incredible opportunity to accelerate the development agenda of our beloved country to improve the well-being of our people. The ocean must be at the heart of all our decision-making. We must walk the walk by making a greater commitment to the ocean”, noted H.E Akufo-Addo.
H.E. Akufo-Addo proposed five agenda points to contribute to the sustainable management of the ocean to improve the well-being of Ghanaians.
First, he called for the prioritization of sustainable management of the ocean through robust regulations to prevent overfishing and irresponsible fishing practices. Second, he emphasized the need to deepen strategic partnerships to enhance ocean health by calling on the private sector, academia, CSOs, and community leaders to play a critical role. Third, the President stressed the need to ensure greater and smarter investment in ocean management through public-private partnerships. Fourth, he called for more investments in research, technological advancements, and innovations to address the challenges facing the ocean. Fifth, he urged stakeholders to recognize the interconnectedness of the global community and international collaborations to leverage the collective wisdom and expertise of all nations to save the ocean.
H.E. Akufo-Addo is a member of a High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy (Ocean Panel). The Ocean Panel is a unique global initiative with 17 world leaders, championing a new ocean agenda to build momentum towards a sustainable ocean economy.
The SDGs Advisor at the Office of the President and the Sherpa to the President on Ocean Action, Dr. Eugene Owusu, in his welcome remarks at the Summit, called for urgent action to halt overfishing and ocean degradation.
“For humanity’s own survival, it is absolutely imperative that we come together to ensure sustainable and responsible stewardship of our oceans”, noted Dr. Owusu.
In a speech read on his behalf by Nii Quao Donkor II, His Majesty King Tackie Teiko Tsuru II, the Ga Mantse and President of the Ga Traditional Council pledged to use his privileged position to influence actions to save the ocean.
“The sea is in a poor state of health, and we can no longer look unconcerned and expect miracles to happen. Let’s not ignore cultures and traditional practices, and the values of those living along the coast. We are ready to lead the charge of leveraging time-tested solutions to protect the health of the oceans”, noted King Tackie Teiko Tsuru II.
High-level panel discussions at the Summit emphasized the need for urgent actions to address challenges facing the ocean’s health. Notable among these discussions was a session on addressing plastic pollution, which was moderated by Stephen Kansuk, Head of Environment and Climate at UNDP Ghana. The panelists of this session called for behavioral change and individual actions to address the plastic menace affecting the ocean’s health. They also called for innovative solutions from more entrepreneurs to turn waste into resources to address unemployment. This high-level panel includes Honorable Cecilia Dapaah, Ghana’s Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources, Ms. Flora Jika, Managing Director of Voltic Ghana, Dr Christine Asare, Deputy Executive Director of Operations of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Mr. Immanuel B. Nartey-Tokoli, Managing Director of Jekora Ventures.
A key output of the National Blue Economy Summit is a ‘Blue Outcomes 2023 Document’ to drive the mainstreaming of ocean action in Ghana’s national development process. The outcome document identified a shared common vision for safeguarding the ocean and emphasized the importance of multi-stakeholder partnerships. It also recognized the need to protect, conserve and restore coastal habitats, and development of coastal infrastructure. In addition, the document highlighted the need to integrate climate into ocean governance policy frameworks and the adoption of science, technology, and innovation to address challenges facing the ocean.