#03 2022

Towards a unified African voice on strengthening ocean-based actions

By Professor Juliet Hermes, Manager, SAEON Egagasini Node

In 2021 I worked on a number of policy briefs for the African Group of Negotiators Expert Support System (AGNES) in order to translate the IPCC Special Report on the Oceans and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC) into relevant information for African policy-makers to ensure that the SROCC informs the common Africa position at COP26 in Glasgow.

As a result of the negotiations at COP26, Decision  -/CP.26, the Glasgow climate pact included three key paragraphs around the ocean – 58, 60 and 61. In particular, paragraph 61 invited “the Chair of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice to hold an annual dialogue, starting at the fifty-sixth session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (June 2022), to strengthen ocean-based action and to prepare an informal summary report thereon and make it available to the Conference of the Parties at its subsequent session”.


To prepare a unified African voice at this proposed meeting, a workshop was organised by AGNES in collaboration with Kenya’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry, the African Union Development Agency, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO) and Oppenheimer Generations in Nairobi in May 2022.

The aim of this workshop was to produce Africa’s views on strengthening ocean-based actions in line with Decision 1/CP.26 Paragraph 61. These will be presented at the Bonn meeting, which will then hopefully result in the African negotiators highlighting the importance of the ocean in the COP27 discussions.

Experts in the meeting included Dr Pat Nyinguro from the Kenyan met office and Dr Ibukun Adewumi, the Ocean Governance and Partnerships Coordinator of the Global Oceans Accounts programme, both of whom contributed to the policy briefs. The meeting was also attended by Edwin Mwashinga from the IOC-UNESCO, who is very involved with the African agenda for the Ocean decade. Soobaschand Sweenarain from Mauritius, who runs the Ecofish programme in the western Indian Ocean, not only contributed a wealth of knowledge around fisheries in the region but will also be an excellent future connection for the Indian Ocean Rim Academic Group (IORAG). The other members of the writing team were more active on the policy front, including George Wamukoya, a team leader of AGNES, who was running the workshop.

It was both an honour and an educational experience to have two of the African negotiators at the meeting, including the lead negotiator for the African Group of Negotiators, and Fat Ndeye, who will be leading the discussions for Africa at the ocean meeting in Bonn.

My role at the workshop was to contribute as an expert in ocean and climate science, but I also found it an incredible opportunity to learn more about what is required at this level of policy, the language used and what messages to highlight.

The themes of the document we were contributing to included “making the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) Blue”. NDCs embody efforts by each country to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. They lie at the heart of the Paris agreement. The NDC includes both adaptation and mitigation actions.

All African countries have submitted their NDCs with targets up to 2030. Of these, 25 coastal and island states have submitted their updated NDCs. Within these NDCs, several ocean-based actions have been put forward to address climate adaptation and mitigation around a number of intervention areas.

A group of climate experts from around Africa working with African Negotiators for COP27