Perhaps you are wondering what is the Blue Economy Conference is all about and why so much emphasis has been placed on it and why global leaders have trooped into the country in numbers to attend the three day event.
Two years ago, the government of Kenya besides realising that its waters were being polluted, mooted the idea of tapping the economic potential of the country’s maritime resources while improving the livelihoods of communities living along the Coastal belt. The government was concerned about the welfare of those communities who despite residing near a “goldmine” are very poor.
Consequently, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs began the process of pitching the idea to foreign governments with the view of bringing minds together to chart a common path. As a result, President Uhuru Kenyatta promised global leaders that Kenya would host a conference to enlighten the world on the issue, sooner rather than later Japan and Canada joined the bandwagon as co-hosts of the much publicised event.
So much was the world excited by the idea of the first ever Blue Economy Conference that foreign governments and global organisations have footed much of the cost for hosting it according to Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma.
Speaking during the second day of the conference on November 27, the CS says the conference has so far been a huge success with researchers projecting that the Blue Economy has the capacity to double or triple the global economy if harnessed.
“Previously there wasn’t as much information as we are beginning to have now about the potential of the seas and we are talking about not only the potential for food. We are also talking about the potential of energy. The Blue Economy is about new investment, technology and industries,” said CS Juma.
The Cabinet Secretary was referring to industries that can be set up to process the fish, oil drilling and ventures like marine tourism among many other opportunities that can accrue.
Admitting that the country has thus far failed in its management of this resource, she lamented that Kenya’s waters have become a “death place” for animals and pose a significant health risk to Coast residents.
“We are doing very badly in terms of managing our oceans . They have become death places for animals. They have become death places for people in terms of making us sick. You have seen the heaps of plastic and terrible things happening,” said CS Juma.
The idea is to regenerate the seas in order to create a balance of nature in a sustainable manner. Once the waters are well managed the economic benefits will follow.
CS Juma also made light work of claims of unease between Kenya and her neighbors including Uganda and Somalia over possession of Migingo Island and encroachment into the country’s territorial waters respectively.
“I don’t think that is a problem. Countries have differences all the time. Kenya continues to enjoy a cordial relationship with its neighbors and all the disputes will be handled through the right channels,” said CS Juma.
The conference continues tomorrow and will end on Thursday, November 28.