The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed water body on Earth. It has a unique ecosystem with 400 endemic species facing a number of threats, including coastal zone degradation, habitat destruction and pollution from oil and gas production. Hailed by the United Nations as a major contribution to peace and stability in the region, the five states are using it to implement national action plans based on a common strategy. This regional cooperation process has been managed on an interim basis by UN Environment (formerly the United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP). To succeed, the regional cooperation process requires a stable secretariat and an established institutional implementation network. GRID-Arendal assists with monitoring, assessment, reporting, information exchange, networking, research, and environmental management and administration related work. The Convention Secretariat will become permanent this year and GRID-Arendal’s support is expected to be formalised.
The Convention on the Cooperation in the Protection, Management, and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Atlantic Coast of the West, Central and Southern African Region (Abidjan Convention) came into force in 1984 and covers the coastal area of 22 countries – from Mauritania in the north to South Africa – along 14,000 kilometres of coastline. Ecosystem-based Management is an approach that aims at managing coastal and marine environments along ecological boundaries. It assumes the marine environment includes humans and looks at the values healthy ecosystems provide to people. Known as “ecosystem services” these values can be both monetary and non-monetary. This approach helps raise awareness of the importance of ecosystems ito development, as well as to inform trade-offs, planning and decision-making. In this context, it is important to provide information on the opportunities of ecosystem services recognition, as well as the costs of failing to do so. GRID-Arendal assists in developing skills needed to ensure that ecosystem-based management, and how to determine the value of ecosystems to people, is included in policy making. Based on the three socio-economic assessment developed for three Large Marine Ecosystem in the region, a synthesis report will highlight on the value of marine and coastal ecosystems and recommend next steps.