SAIIA’s Governance of Africa’s Resources Programme (GARP) works to improve policies governing Africa’s abundant natural resources. The programme analyses the key local, continental and global trends influencing the management, use, development and regulation of Africa’s natural resources. Some of GARP’s past research work has focused on the governance of Mozambique’s coastal zone, with a case study describing the management of mangrove forests in light of conflicting priorities. During this time, Romy Chevallier focused specifically on valuing the ecosystem services mangroves provide in a holistic sense, and she did some focused work on Blue Carbon and the COP negotiations (Chevallier, 2012. Blue Carbon: The Opportunity of Coastal Sinks for Africa; Chevallier, 2012. Blue Carbon an opportunity for Africa at Cop18?). In the lead up to COP 21, perhaps Chevallier’s piece on opportunities for African negotiators around blue carbon could be useful? She is very keen to track these debates again and highlight potential opportunities for developing countries.
Although GARPs current research work does not include blue forests or blue carbon per se, the programme is undertaking interesting work on the management and governance of the coastal zone of South Africa, as well as on the Blue Economy and ocean governance.
Romy Chevallier’s recent publications (Chevallier, 2015. Promoting the Integrated Governance of South Africa’s Coastal Zone) looks at the effective management of the coastal zone of South Africa. Integrated coastal management in South Africa has been developed over the past few decades to address multiple-use conflicts, pre-empt and plan for new uses, and protect vulnerable ecosystems and marine biodiversity. This includes a variety of policy and planning instruments to deepen integration and manage the coastal zone more effectively. The paper highlights the shift in South Africa’s approach – from coastal management focused on ecological sustainability to one that primarily supports its broader socio-economic agenda through inclusive management and sustainable livelihoods strategies. The paper includes a case study of a local areas in South Africa that highlights the potential shortfalls in the practical application of local integrated coastal management policy. This inevitably results in the degradation of estuaries, mangrove swamps and the likes.
One of the particular challenges facing the ecological integrity of South Africa’s coast line is small-scale, informal and illegal sand mining (Chevallier, 2014. Illegal sand mining in South Africa). Although not well documented, these activities are detrimental for local communities, coastal ecosystems, river mouths and water flow, to name but a few. Without concerted efforts to curb these activities, South Africa and other countries experiencing similar challenges, will face enormous economic, social and environmental consequences. This is a direct threat to any natural infrastructure that resides in these mine-able areas along the coastline or on floodplains, including to wetlands and mangrove forests.
Alex Benkenstein’s work on the Blue Economy: Under the broader rubric of the blue economy, the maritime environment and associated governance challenges have become a central concern for African policymakers in recent years. The African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, has referred to the blue economy as the maritime dimension of the African Renaissance, while the African Union’s Agenda 2063 envisages Africa’s blue economy as a major contributor to continental transformation and growth. At the centre of this shift is the 2050 Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy (2050 AIMS), a comprehensive plan that aims to ‘foster more wealth creation from Africa’s oceans, seas and inland water ways by developing a thriving maritime economy and realising the full potential of sea-based activities in an environmentally sustainable manner’.
At the national and sub-regional levels African states have also been formulating strategies aimed at unlocking the potential of their maritime domains. South Africa’s Operation Phakisa, for example, targets significant growth in four key maritime sectors – aquaculture; marine transport and manufacturing; offshore oil and gas; and marine protection services and ocean governance. As Africa’s regional and national maritime ambitions develop, there is a growing need to respond effectively to the maritime strategies of other global powers. For example, China, India and Indonesia have developed strategies centred on the Indian Ocean region, which portends significant implications for Africa.
Though various components of the Blue Economy all share the maritime domain in common, they have historically not been effectively coordinated. Integrated maritime strategies will test the ability of government departments, industry associations, multilateral agencies, civil society organisations and a host of other stakeholders to plan effectively, coordinate efforts, and respond collectively to conflicting demands and tensions that may arise. In addition to the tools and mechanisms provided through integrated coastal zone management, there will be a greater demand for marine spatial planning and, regionally, a cooperative approach to managing large marine ecosystems. Stakeholders must also ensure that the discourse on ‘blue growth’ incorporates concerns on social justice and environmental sustainability. For example, efforts to develop the fisheries sector must reflect the critical role that small-scale fisheries play in coastal livelihoods and food security. Coastal developments and urbanisation can provide important economic opportunities for coastal communities, but without effective environmental monitoring and controls, harmful practices such as illegal sand mining in estuaries can have far-reaching impacts on marine ecosystems.
By Romy Chevallier, SAIIA