On several occasions, starting in Abidjan in 2017, the European and the African Unions have emphasised their mutual interest in advancing a common and prosperous ocean agenda. Ocean governance, including sustainable fisheries and blue economy, is an area in which closer cooperation could benefit both continents.
In support of the UN 2030 Agenda and, in particular, Sustainable Development Goal 14 (“life below water”), and Africa’s 2063 Agenda, both continents would benefit from a joint approach emphasizing the importance of oceans and seas, not only for the safety, security, well-being and healthy environment of our societies, but also as a catalyst for socio-economic changes in the face of climate change and the pandemic.
The 6th Africa-Europe Summit, the French and Senegalese Presidencies of the EU Council and Africa Union and COP 27 in Africa offer an important space and window of opportunity to create a roadmap from the Heads of State’s Summit to the UN Ocean Conference in June and onto COP 27 in Egypt to reinforce strategic cooperation on ocean governance at a cross-continental and global level. A cross-continental dialogue amongst government officials and non-state actors could enhance mutual understanding about ocean-related priorities, whereby the two continents would have an opportunity to advance a shared agenda, working together towards a mutually beneficial partnership in favour of economic opportunities, environmental preservation and resilience to climate change.
Questions will include:
• How could greater Africa-Europe cross-continental action on ocean benefit our economies and populations, while minimising threats to the environment?
• How could the two continents make the most of this decisive year and ensure a common approach is designed and deployed for the oceans?
• What are the biggest bottlenecks in relation to ocean governance to be addressed? How can the two continents work together towards a mutually beneficial partnership?