It was under the theme « Standing Together for the Conservation of the West African Littoral » that the 6th Regional Coastal and Marine Forum officially opened on this 21st February 2012 in Banjul, The Gambia in the presence of the Officials of the Host Country, Regional Directors of PRCM founding members, co-operation partners and PRCM member countries’ delegations comprised of Parliamentarians, technicians, scientists, NGO and civil society representatives, as well as co-operation agencies.
The opening ceremony featured addresses by Mrs Lynda Johnson, Director General of the MAVA Foundation, Ndeye Gaye, Honourable Minister of Forestry and the Environment of the Republic of The Gambia, and H.E. Dr Aja Isatou Njie-Saidy, Vice-President of the Republic of The Gambia. They all maintained that preserving natural resources in the coastal and marine zone was crucial, and that addressing the issues of the depletion of those resources and climate change required a behavioural change.
* Side events
The Regional Coastal and Marine Forum, which arouse from the partnership underlying PRCM creation and benefits from the input of new players, has now become a model sub-regional platform for experience sharing and discussion among policy-makers, researchers, Parliamentarians, the civil society, international organisations, and co-operation agencies. In anticipation of the key events due to take place in 2012, including the Rio+20 Conference, the Conference of Signatory Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the IUCN World Congress on Conservation, the 6th edition of the Regional Forum enabled participants to prepare the ground for the development of a common strategy to tackle greater challenges confronting the sub-region.
For three days, presentations and side-events took place on as varied subjects as protected areas management, climate change, fishery management, and PRCM future. It resulted from the in-depth deliberations that all partners and players were clearly committed to the protection, development, and conservation of the region’s tremendous coastal and marine resources. 22 recommendations were adopted with a bearing on the following:
• management of protected areas (i.e. marine protected areas, community heritage marine areas, marine protected areas and fishery);
• fishery (traditional fishing, IUU fishing);
• species and habitats conservation (cetacean protection, plastic bags pollution control); and
• capacity building and environmental education.
Another highlight of the Forum was the presentation, at the end of the deliberations, of the PRCM Prize for Conservation to Mr Salatou Sambou, Leader of the AKAWAWA Association from Senegal.
In his address at the closing ceremony, Mr Aimé Jean Nianogo, IUCN Regional Director for West and Central Africa and Chair of PRCM Steering Committee, commended the quality of the deliberations throughout the Sixth Forum which, he said, would be remembered by all participants as a rewarding experience. He further commended the cooperation spirit that every stakeholder of the coastal zone demonstrated during the meeting and, in so doing, urged participants to continue interacting after the meeting and to step up efforts for the conservation of the coastal and marine zone. Mr Keba Sonko, representative of the Minister of Forestry and the Environment of The Gambia, expressed gratitude to the PRCM and participants, and noted with appreciation that the Forum fully met the expectation of providing a framework conducive to a widely shared awareness of issues pertaining to the conservation of the littoral.