The Liberian government in partnership with the Embassy of Sweden in Monrovia and Conservation International (CI) have scheduled a 'Blue Ocean Conference' in Monrovia from March 18 - 21, 2019.
According to the organizers, this is the first environmental and marine conference scheduled in West Africa, representing a historic moment for the country.
A National Steering Committee comprising of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will serve as Chair, while Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA) and the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA) will serve as the highest decision-making body of the conference.
The aim is to identify innovative solutions to ensure a long-term sustainability of Africa's marine environment; it will be a turning point for ocean work in Liberia, West Africa and the African region.
"We desire to reverse the decline in the country's health sector; the planet and prosperity, because this is a major opportunity for Liberia to join global efforts, which started in New York and Nairobi, Kenya, to conserve our oceans and advance toward action for West Africa," said CI-Liberia Country Director Jessica Donovan.
This is a unique opportunity for Liberia to harness the expertise at the conference in order to showcase the country's ecosystem potential as well as find lasting solutions to challenges in marine and environmental governance.
The conference, according to Donovan, aims to focus on the following themes, Marine Pollution, Climate Change, Sustainable Fishing and Blue Economy.
From the large depository of plastic debris and other pollutants, including riverine discharges, agricultural, sediment, solid waste and agricultural run-offs to the visible impact of climate change through sea erosion and land mismanagement makes this thematic area imperative in order to assess impact, mitigate and adopt policies that would build resilience and reduce disaster risk in the post-conflict nation.
Consequently, a beach cleaning exercise will form part of the four-day event in order to create public awareness and education.
"Participants as well as target groups from across Liberia will take part in an active day of cleaning a beach in Liberia and learning about the importance of the coastal areas, Donovan said.
This aspect of the gathering will encourage all to help care for their environment. With vast ecosystem in Liberia, the conference seeks to bolster the impetus started by the United Nations Oceans Conference in creating opportunities for African countries to identify the challenges that come with marine governance and sustainable development explicitly regarding the thematic areas in the impact of climate change, sustainable fishing practices, economic opportunities, and maritime security.
This conference comes at a time Liberia is looking towards diversifying the economy for broader growth.
At the upcoming conference, stakeholders are expected to give consideration to ways in which the shipping industry will develop to ensure that maritime security is related to the fishing sector, "because bad fishing activities are eroding life in the ocean and jeopardizing the livelihood of the coastal community."
Conservation International (CI) uses science, policy and partnerships to protect the nature that people rely on for food, fresh water and livelihoods.
Founded in 1987, CI works in more than 30 countries on six continents to ensure a healthy, prosperous planet that supports every living creature.