British and Irish politicians in Nairobi for start of the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference

Sustainable Blue Economy Conference Nairobi 2018
President Kenyatta with fellow Heads of State and Government officials at the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference. Photo: Twitter/UKenyatta

Delegations from the UK and Ireland arrived in Kenya yesterday for the start of the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference.

The British contingent is being led by Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon accompanied by High Commissioner Nic Hailey and Deputy Susie Kitchens, with Pat Breen, Minister for Trade, Business and Employment heading the Irish team.

Addressing the conference, President Uhuru Kenyatta pledged Kenya’s support for the sustainable blue economy by highlighting key areas of focus as the first ever global blue economy conference opened in Nairobi.

He said Kenya will lead from the front in the adoption of appropriate policies, strategies and mechanisms to harness the blue economy so as to re-energize national economies and create greater opportunities and jobs.

“I am convinced that for the sake of the present and future generations, and for the continued viability of our ecosystems, we have to envision a different future and, therefore, a different model for the blue economy.  I pledge to envision that future and do my part to promote it,” President Kenyatta said.

Sustainable Blue Economy Conference Nairobi 2018
Sustainable Blue Economy Conference 2018

The Kenyan President emphasized the need to confront the challenge of waste management and plastic pollution that is compromising the health of people and oceans, seas and rivers as well as threatening food security and the biodiversity on land and at sea.

President Kenyatta underscored the need to ensure responsible and sustainable fishing to conserve the endangered species and high value fish stocks, on which millions of people depend for their livelihoods.

As well as emphasising the need to ensure safety and security in the high seas so that global trade, connectivity and all businesses can thrive unhindered and unfettered, the President said his Government is taking steps to build on and expand the institutional governance mechanisms already in place to enhance coordinated management of the blue economy.

He added that his administration is taking measures to revive Kenya’s maritime transport by building and expanding its ports and shipping facilities, as well as partnering with global shipping lines to extend its maritime reach.

Speaking at the Conference, Lord Ahmad affirmed British and Commonwealth commitments to sustainable oceans through the Blue Belt Programme, which is delivering protection of 4m sq km  of ocean, its joint leadership of the Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance (CCOA) with Vanuatu and leading the Blue Charter Action Group on Marine Plastic.

Mr Breen was also one of the keynote speakers at the event which both the UK and Ireland are supporting financially and his delegation includes senior officials from the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, scientists from the Marine Institute and Sea Fisheries Protection Authority as well as Geoscience Ireland.

Accompanied by Irish Ambassador Dr Vincent O’Neill, Mr Breen held a bilateral meeting with the Kenyan State Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Professor Micheni J. Ntiba to discuss current work between their two countries’ fisheries institutions and future collaborations.

The Blue Economy Conference is the largest of its kind in history, with 17,600 participants representing 183 countries with representatives from hundreds of organisations and agencies also attending.

It is estimated that Africa’s coastline currently hosts a maritime industry valued at around US$1 trillion annually but which has the potential of tripling in value by 2020.

During the three-day conference, delegates will also learn how to leverage the latest innovations, scientific advances and best practices to build prosperity while conserving waters for future generations.

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