The continuous growth in the amount of solid waste thrown away, and the very slow rate of degradation of most items, are together leading to a gradual increase in marine litter found at sea, on the seafloor and coastal shores. In Africa, almost all single use products end up in marine waters. This has caused severe impact on the fisheries sector in Africa, coastal tourism and the marine environment. This is a potential threat to food security, economic development, marine ecosystems and the vision of a blue economy.
It is therefore urgent and necessary to prevent pollution caused by impacts of marine litter through the creation of enabling legislation and policies to ensure compliance and enforcement in the region. Consequently, there is need to develop a regional framework to guide regional and national efforts in developing marine litter legislation and in turn hasten the prevention of its impacts. The Government of Norway has provided funds to enable technical support to strengthen legal frameworks regarding unnecessary and avoidable marine litter, including single-use plastics.
The UN Environment Programme, UNEP seeks to take a two-pronged approach to fulfil its UNEA mandate on marine litter (i) assessment and compilation of key legislation and policy frameworks on marine litter in Africa, and (ii) preparation of draft guidelines for development of legislation and related policies on marine litter in Africa.
In this regard, the UNEP through its Africa Office is collaborating with WIOMSA with respect to the project entitled “Protecting the Marine Environment from Land-Based Pollution through Strengthened Coordination of Global Action” in Africa
The UN Environment Programme through its Africa Office contracted the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA) to review legislation and policies, as well as prepare a regional guide on marine litter at national and regional levels in Africa.
A two-day virtual workshop was held by the two organizations on 11-12 November 2021 for participants to review and provide inputs to the project’s outputs. The meeting was attended by 54 participants on day one and 40 on day two.
The project’s outputs
i. A compendium of existing legal and regulatory frameworks, policy options, and institutional structures on marine litter in Africa – This compendium will be used to identify aspects that the review of legislation and policies at the national and regional levels should be based on. The compendium includes existing legislation and policies from as many countries as possible.
ii. A gap analysis report – This report provides a detailed assessment of identified gaps and recommendations on key aspects required in the development of policy and legal interventions or actions aimed at addressing marine litter at the national and regional levels.
iii. Draft guidelines for the development of legislation and policies on marine litter in Africa. The guidelines include recommendations on how countries can adapt/adopt/customize the guidelines to take national priorities and context into account.
The objectives of the meeting were
(i) to review and provide technical inputs to the outputs of the project,
(ii) to discuss and provide guidance on how countries can adapt/adopt/customize the guidelines
(iii) to provide advice to UNEP on follow-up actions