By Eugene Davis
About 300 participants including the President Akufo-Addo and other top dignitaries both home and abroad are expected to grace the maiden National Blue Economy Summit, slated for May 31 – June 1,2023 in Accra, aimed at mobilizing collective action for the ocean, raising awareness on the challenges.
Billions of people have personal connections to the ocean, and the ocean plays an essential role in the daily lives of everyone on this planet. The ocean makes life possible by providing half of the earth’s oxygen, and it contributes more than $1.5 trillion a year to the global economy from fisheries and aquaculture to shipping and marine tourism; from offshore renewable energy to marine biotechnology and ecosystem services.
Speaking at the media launch of the upcoming summit in Accra, Dr. Eugene Owusu, Sherpa to the President on Ocean Action said the overarching objective of the National Blue Economy Summit is to raise awareness on the need to urgently address the critical challenges facing our ocean, and to highlight the immense opportunities that our ocean offers for our country’s transformation.
“This Summit will be more than just a platform for sharing knowledge and ideas. It will be an opportunity to forge new partnerships and collaborations, to build networks and communities of practice, and to catalyze action and investment towards a more sustainable and resilient blue economy. It is our hope that the Summit will spur urgent actions to sustainably utilize the vast resources and services that the ocean provides to transform our national economy.
The Summit will be a chance for us to learn from each other, to challenge each other, and to inspire each other to take bold and transformative steps towards a brighter ocean future. The landmark Summit should be a clear signal and a testament to our country’s commitment to the sustainable management of our oceans and coastal resources.”
Further, he stated that despite the numerous benefits of the ocean, the world is sitting on an ocean time bomb and the clock is ticking, pointing out that the ocean faces a crisis of monumental proportions as a result of overexploitation and degradation.
He explains overfishing, pollution, climate change, and other pressures are taking a heavy toll on our oceans and coastal ecosystems, threatening the livelihoods and well-being of millions of people not just in this country but around the world. “Protecting and restoring the health of our ocean is not only a moral imperative. It is an absolute necessity. The ocean is the future when it comes to our food security, our prosperity and our national security. We cannot achieve the sustainable and prosperous future that we all crave for, and which we need, without a healthy ocean.”
A Policy Analyst at the SDGs Advisory Unit, Dominic Opoku Manu Asante also disclosed that the ocean is significant for human existence given that 70percent of the earth is covered by the ocean and is being depleted at a worrying rate, stressing that 5 trillion of plastics are currently in the ocean.
The Head of Policy Planning Monitoring and Evaluation at the Ministry of Fisheries and Acquaculture, Doris Yeboah stated that the ministry is committed to the programme and already steps have been taken to establish marine protected areas at two places in the Western region which are the Cape 3 Points -where fishes will go there and have some respite from work of artisanal fisherfolks.
The UNDP Resident Representative in Ghana, Dr. Angela Lusigi indicated that Ghana’s per capita consumption of plastics is growing at 3.4% per annum, which translates to more than 250,000 tons of plastic a year, and 23% of all this plastic waste flows into the ocean.
According to her, it is time to chart a new course for ocean health guided by knowledge and science. “Sustainably managing our ocean resources can contribute to better human health as well as a healthy planet. For instance, the oceans are recognized as the lungs of our planet and the largest carbon sink in the world. Saving our oceans will be a vital step in our fight against climate change and help to secure our future.”
Nana Yaa Afriyie, the Head of Partnerships, Sustainability and CSR at Fidelity Bank, on her part noted that the health of the ocean has an effect on the community the bank serves and the summit re-affirms their environmental stewardship; “we will be actively involved in de-carbonisation and developing sustainable finance operations.”