COP26: Book calls for more scientific research to advance blue economy

Tuesday October 19 2021
Blue economy

The Kenyatta International Convention Centre venue of the global blue economy conference in Nairobi, Kenya. PHOTO | DAILY NATION


Scientific discourse must be at the centre of interventions aimed at reversing global environmental change, as leaders prepare for the e upcoming 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) to be held in Glasgow, Scotland.

The sentiments were made during the unveiling of a book on the use of technology in advancing the potential of the blue economy in a virtual event in New York, ahead of the COP26 summit to be held between October 31 and November 12.

The publication, Science, Research and Innovation for Harnessing the Blue Economy, is an outcome of the Science and Research Symposium segment of the three-day Sustainable Blue Economy Conference held in November 2018 in Nairobi.

It is an initiative between the government of Kenya and the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), and it represents the developments that have taken place since the 2018 conference.

Dr Vladimir Ryabinin, executive secretary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO said documentation of scientific knowledge and innovations showcased at the Nairobi event is critical for governments to take action against climate change hazards on the blue economy front.

“The innovations showcased at the 2018 conference and which are captured in the book will also be relevant to scientists, civil society and the private sector as they generate the science we need for the ocean we want,” said Dr Ryabinin.


The 156 page documentation highlights a broad range of topics canvassed by the knowledge community, including the place of science and research in the blue economy and  the sustainable use of minerals and energy resources.

It expounds on deep sea mining, sustainable shipping, maritime transport, management of coastal zones as well as the governance and security of the blue economy.

It also accentuates a barrage of new initiatives triggered by SBEC 2018 and intended to advance the promise of the blue economy globally.

The book notes that a key challenge to advancing the promise of the blue economy in developing countries, especially in small island development states (SIDs) and Africa in general, remains the lack of scientific capacity.

The Global Ocean Science Report of 2020 concludes that major disparities exist in the capacity around the world to undertake marine scientific research.

SEI, through its global strategy for oceans and biodiversity, aims to bridge science and policy through the quartet identified as sources of marine pollution; coastal resilience and adaptation, governance of the blue economy, and commodity–driven land-use change and biodiversity loss.

“Our work with climate adaptation in coasts and islands is informing governments around the world on integrating aspects related for example to cascading risks, vulnerabilities, and justice into spatial planning and environmental policy,” said Prof Mans Nilsson, the SEI executive director.

United Nations Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Ocean Peter Thomson congratulated the Kenyan government for publishing the book, noting that it was a timely contribution to the repertoire of scientific information that has the potential to influence on the ground actions across the world that are necessary to inform sustainable goals that have a water and ocean dimension.

 “It is impossible to have a healthy planet without a healthy ocean. A sustainable blue economy is humanity’s only hope for a future that can be bequeathed to the next generation,” he said.

 And as part of the actions to strengthen science for environment and climate diplomacy, SEI Africa said it is collaborating with Kenya in several other areas including the lead up to COP26 and the 2022 UN Ocean Conference.

 “In building the scientific knowledge base for informed policy action on blue economy in Africa, we are delighted to have made the dream of the book become a reality and are extremely proud of this partnership,” said Philip Osano, SEI Africa director and also a member of the book’s editorial committee that was led by chief editor, Prof George Outa, a SEI-affiliated researcher on environment and climate diplomacy.

The New York event also builds the momentum for the 2022 United Nations conference to support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 scheduled to be co-hosted by Kenya and Portugal in Lisbon.

The publication could prove crucial for policy development and implementation, as it calls for an interdisciplinary approach to science and research that includes biophysical science, law and policy, human geography and finance, which are all required in generating state of the art evidence-based decision making.

 “The publication of this book underlines my very strong conviction that scientific knowledge, and the unceasing quest for it, is the cornerstone of every human advancement,” said Amb Macharia Kamau, Kenya’s Principal Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

 Dr Francis Owino, Principal Secretary responsible for the Blue Economy in Kenya noted that while major disparities exist in capacities around the world to undertake blue economy scientific research necessary for proper management of human activities, the success to that cause lies in the ability to strengthen synergies.