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Towards a Sustainable Future
Towards a Sustainable Future: The Next Steps

Correcting decades of over-exploitation of resources and fragmented management actions in the Benguela ecosystem will require a substantial, coordinated effort over the next decade.

A task of this magnitude will require careful planning, not only by the government agencies in the three countries bordering the Benguela Current, but also by other stakeholders.

Key players in the Benguela region have already demonstrated a willingness to collaborate and achieve this objective, but the real challenge will be to develop systems and structures that take cognisance of the high natural variability and fragile nature of the BCLME, within the context of a changing world.

The resolve of the governments of Angola, Namibia and South Africa to correct the wrongs of the past and move forward with a new vision for the BCLME is embodied in Strategic Action Programme. The SAP, which was developed and agreed to by the parties concerned, is much more than just a piece of paper: it is a pragmatic, workable framework and an unambiguous statement of common objectives and the means to their achievement. Success will depend on the thorough implementation of the principles, commitments and actions embodied in the SAP, both explicit and implicit.

The TDA identifies a number of important transboundary problems in the BCLME. These include inter alia, non optimal harvesting of living resources, uncertainty about ecosystem status and yields in a highly variable environment, deterioration of water quality, habitat destruction and alteration, loss of biotic integrity and threats to biodiversity, harmful algal blooms, introduction of non-indigenous species and inadequate regional capacity (human and infrastructure).

The over-arching actions which are needed to address these transboundary problems are capacity development and training; policy development and harmonization; and the development of regional collaboration with respect to surveys and assessment of ecosystem status.

These actions are appropriate within the context of a GEF project. Action by the GEF will be catalytic in helping to leverage sustainable, long-term funding and private sector funding. Through such a process it is anticipated that, following the conclusion of the GEF-funded BCLME Programme, the necessary institutional structures and funding will be available to ensure the on-going integrated management of the BCLME. Specific actions in which the GEF is playing a role include, inter alia:

  • Further development of appropriate frameworks and mechanisms at both regional, national and local levels for consultation, coordination and cooperation;

  • Development of capacity within the key agencies and institutions of the region;

  • Development of effective ecosystem assessment and monitoring systems;

  • Actions to complete the gaps in our understanding of the BCLME, its functioning, and the factors which affect it - both biophysical and social, economic and political.

  • Harmonisation of policies and legislation relating to activities that affect the BCLME;

  • Increased support for activities that minimise and mitigate the negative impacts of development, including mining, urbanisation, tourism development and resource exploitation;

  • Measures to improve sustainable resource management;

  • Measures to protect biological diversity;

  • Quantification of the role of the BCLME as a source or sink of CO2, and clarification of the role of the BCLME as an early warning site for global change.

This is seen as compatible with the three elements of the GEF-funded International Waters activities, namely:

  • Assisting groups of countries to better understand the environmental concerns of their international waters and work collaboratively to address them;

  • Building the capacity of existing institutions, or structuring new institutional arrangements, in order to utilise a more comprehensive approach for addressing transboundary water-related environmental concerns; and

  • Implementing sustainable measures that address priority transboundary environmental concerns.

Policies, structures and actions developed over the next five years, must by the end of the period be self-sustainable in the region. To achieve this, it is essential that mechanisms are put in place to encourage - indeed ensure - a substantial degree of co-financing of activities. This can best be done by involving and developing partnerships with maritime and coastal industries, the international community and present and future beneficiaries, i.e. all those who have a stake in the long-term health and viability of the Benguela as a LME.