African island nations at UN spotlight ‘blue’ economy, ocean’s ‘transformative power’ as key to survival

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly, two small island nations in Africa today stressed that among the many challenges they face, harnessing the transformative power of the seas and building the ocean-based economy is of fundamental importance for their countries’ survival and sustainable growth.

“The survival, the economic growth and development of our countries depends on the oceans, to which we are inextricably connected,” the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Communities of Cabo Verde, Luis Filipe Tavares, told the Assembly’s annual debate. “The ocean-based economy is therefore of fundamental importance for the development that we want to be sustainable.”

For this reason, Cabo Verde, a country off the northwest coast of Africa, calls for a robust and transparent international legal framework as a sine qua non condition for the preservation and sustained use of marine resources, he explained.

He also said that the challenge facing a small and vulnerable country like his “goes beyond” national capacity to handle and calls for a more coordinated and predictable support from the international community, in particular the UN system.

“For us, the fulfilment of the [2030] Agenda for Sustainable Development implies enhancing the means of implementation, particularly financing, technology transfer, capacity building, and participation in international trade,” he said.

“Furthermore, we will need to develop the capacity to follow up and implement a system to monitor national and regional policies, of which the United Nations System cannot be unaware,” he added.

In their development process, SIDS face significant environmental, economic, and social vulnerabilities, including the huge costs of modernizing and transforming and their limited capacity to attract foreign direct investments, he said.

Also addressing the Assembly was Marie-Louise Potter, Seychelles’ Permanent Representative to the UN, who stressed the pertinent role Sustainable Development Goal 14 plays in people’s lives.

“As a champion of the blue economy initiative, which is directed at reinforcing marine related activities for sustainability purposes, Seychelles recognizes that our oceans present an abundance of untapped opportunities for sustainable growth,” she said.

“It is therefore imperative to highlight that the blue economy, are synonymous with the global action to harness the power of the oceans as a tool for transformation,” she added.

Seychelles, located off Africa’s east coast, contributes to this discourse through the “blue bonds” initiative and “debt-swap agreement.”

Source: UN News Centre.