The United States government has disclosed plans to partner the Nigerian government on ways to harness the potential of the nation’s blue economy.
This was disclosed by Jessye Lapenn, a senior coordinator for Atlantic Cooperation at the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs of the U.S. State Department, in Abuja on Tuesday.
According to Lapenn, Nigeria has remained a key player and leader in the ocean space with potential to drive economic growth.
“I think that this partnership will be a really important platform for Nigerian leadership to benefit from the exchanges, so exchange with scientists, exchange of research, exchange of information, all of which I think Nigeria really stands to benefit from. And then third is, is really to say that we have created a framework for partnership,” she said.
The creation of the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy is a novel development in the annals of Nigeria’s political development since 1960 when Nigeria gained her independence from the British colonial rulers.
The Word Bank says the blue economy is the “sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem”, while the European Commission defines the blue economy as “All economic activities related to oceans, seas and the coast.”
For Lapenn, the ocean is not only an important resource to be protected, but an important resource needed to build a sustainable economic growth.
The ambassador noted that thirty-two coastal atlantic countries across four continents have adopted the ‘Declaration on Atlantic Cooperation’, its the aim to strengthen partnerships both in the North and South Atlantic to address a broad range of issues, from economic development to environmental protection to science and technology.
The Declaration indicated that the Atlantic Ocean is the world’s most heavily traveled ocean with critical trade routes and global energy reserves, as the World Bank estimates that the ocean contributes $1.5 trillion annually to the global economy and expects this figure to double by 2030.
It stated that sustainable ocean economy sectors are estimated to generate almost 50 million jobs in Africa and to contribute $21 billion to Latin American GDP.
However, challenges like illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing; natural disasters; and illicit trafficking threaten this economy.
“The creation of a new ministry, suggests to me that the Nigerian government see the blue economy as an important area to focus on. So my own sense is that means this sort of vision behind the government’s thinking, and the vision behind the partnership are really aligned,” she said.
“So, the declaration specifically references the needs of coastal communities, recognising that that those who live on the ocean have particular vulnerabilities, particular insights that must be taken into account.”