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Guinea Current countries seek support for priority investment projects

By Boney Mua

DOUALA, Cameroon 17 Feb – Countries of the Guinea Current Large Marine Ecosystem (GCLME) region began a crucial two-day meeting with potential donors Monday to rally support for the implementation of their national priority project investment proposals designed to restore, protect and sustain marine ecosystems and resources in their region.

The conference provides a platform for the GCLME countries to initiate dialogue to forge lasting financial and technical partnerships to realize these priority projects. Delegates at the Douala conference, in Cameroon’s economic hub, comprise ranking representatives of Interim Guinea Current Commission (IGCC) member states, bilateral and multilateral development partners, private sector companies and interested non-governmental organizations.

Delegates begin a meeting with potential donors for support in implementing national

Delegates begin a meeting with potential donors for support in implementing national priority project investments.

Projects being discussed are contained in the National Action Plans (NAP) of each GCLME country. The NAP is a set of priority programmes/projects aligned with national legislation; policy and investment needs that are to be implemented at the country-level. Some of these have already been identified in other national strategies such as National Programme of action on Land-Based Activities and National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan. The mobilization of domestic and development partner funds for these NAP projects would advance the integrated regional management approach for the sustainable use of living and non-living resources. It would also result in a measureable reduction or reversal in degradation of the GCLME, which is the overarching strategic goal for the region which has some of the highest levels of poverty worldwide.

The conference is the first by the GCLME, a joint project, with Global Environment Facility support, to stem the loss of living resources and halt coastal degradation of the Guinea Current region. The long-term goals of the GCLME project are to recover depleted fisheries and sustain their supply; restore degraded habitats; as well as reduce, if not eradicate, land and ship-based sources of pollution that are causing environmental havoc.

Opening the conference, Cameroon’s minister for the protection of the environment and nature, Pierre Hele, underscored his government commitment to the Commission and the GCLME. He called on partners to support the GCLME project. To this end, the conference’s guest of honor, Dr. Kenneth Sherman, expressed the willingness of the United States government to share its scientific and technical know-how with the project. Sherman developed the LME concept and has had a long association with the GCLME. He is the director of the Narragansett Laboratory and the Office of Marine Ecosystem Studies, National Marine Fisheries Service, Northeast Fisheries Science Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Conference organizers expect that at the end of the conference a portfolio of selected projects would be established for future country-level negotiations between sovereign states and development partners; and that a timeline would be drawn for bilateral talks.

In his statement, the IGCC Executive Secretary and GCLME Regional Coordinator, Dr. Stephen Donkor, told the estimated 60 conference participants that national budgetary allocations to the investment projects would provide “impetus for the acquisition of matching partner funds.”

He added: “We are also convinced that linkages established here in Douala, between GCLME countries and partners, between countries themselves and also between partners will represent the main achievement of this conference.”

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