Norway sets up new fund to combat marine litter : Asia and Africa among likely early beneficiaries

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File photo: A figurine made of plastic waste collected in South Africa’s marine environment on display at this year’s Africa Marine Waste conference held at the Feathermarket Centre in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape province in July.

Pretoria: 23 October 2017

The battle against global marine pollution has been given a massive boost following an announcement by the Norwegian government of the setup of a fund totaling NOK150-million (or R258-million) for use in efforts to combat marine waste.

In a statement, Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Børge Brende said marine litter globally had become a huge environmental hazard, with some areas of the world far worse than others. The fund budgeted for 2018 would initially target these areas, he said.

‘Norway intends to take the lead in ocean affairs internationally. Marine litter, including plastics, has become one of the most serious environmental problems of our time. That is why the Government is launching a concerted effort to combat marine litter and microplastics and is establishing a development programme in this field,’ said Mr Brende.

He added that: “The new development programme will use effective and environmentally sound approaches to combating marine litter. To start with, the programme will focus on Southeast Asia, which is the region where the problem is most acute. We will also look at ways of using the programme to support other countries and regions where marine litter is a growing problem, for example in Africa.”

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File photo: Delegates to this year’s Africa Marine Waste conference in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape in July

For Africa, this is expected to come as a boost particularly given that this comes only three months after the region held a five day conference in Port Elizabeth, South Africa to focus specifically on the progressively impending marine waste pollution disaster along the continent’s coastlines.

At that conference in July, it was revealed that with more than 150 million tons of plastic material floating across the world’s oceans – and likely to rise to 950mt in 30 years – and with very little being done about it, the world was facing an imminent ecological disaster.

However, it was also confirmed that the problem was especially acute in Africa.

Among more than a dozen scientists attending and sharing views on the problem, Dr Linda Godfrey, a manager of the Waste RDI Roadmap Implementation Unit at the Centre for Science and Industrial Research (CSRI) in South Africa, painted a disturbing picture of particularly the African continent with regards both its current status on waste management as well as imminent future challenges that could make the task of eliminating plastic waste more difficult if not arrested effectively, soon.

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File photo: More plastic waste ends up in the world’s waters inland and oceans than is collected and properly disposed of.

She said the continent was largely characterized by poor landfill practices, general poor waste management, uncontrolled dumping compounded by a rapidly growing population of middle income people who were increasingly migrating to predominantly coastal cities.

“Africa is at a watershed, in that if we do not stop and take action now, we are going to be faced with a massive marine waste problem locally, regionally and the potential impact globally. And there are essentially seven reasons that I see for why we should take action now,” she said.

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File photo: Delegates to a one day conference held in Cape Town in July 2017 also discussing the growing threat of marine waste globally.

Days later at  a mini conference hosted jointly by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the United States Consulate, the International Ocean Institute and the V&A Waterfront held at the Two Oceans Acquarium at Cape Town’s Waterfront, it emerged that South Africa was among top contributors to marine waste generation.

It was revealed that the country at the southern tip of the African continent, at the point at which three oceans meet, ranks No.11 in the world for waste management production and that the country alone is responsible for 12% of global plastic waste and about 2% of total mismanaged plastic waste, leading to between 0.9-0.25 megatons of it ending as marine plastic waste annually.

A week ago in Oslo, the Norwegian government said Africa would be an area of focus for the new fund beginning 2018, adding that the contribution was part of Norway’s overall effort supportive of campaigns undertaken by such as the UN Environment, the World Bank and INTERPOL to combat marine litter.

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File photo: Ship accidents at sea also contribute to waste pollution if not dealt with fast and effectively.

“Norway’s new development programme will include efforts to reduce waste and improve waste management in the areas that are most seriously affected by marine litter. Supporting efforts to clean up shorelines and coastal areas can also have a major impact,” said Mr Brende.

Meanwhile, Mr Brende said his government also intended intensifying its engagement with other countries in the identification and responsible exploitation of more economic opportunities presented by the world’s oceans economy,

“The Government is calling for sustainable use of the oceans to be given greater priority at the international level.

“Prime Minister Erna Solberg hosted a high-level event at the UN General Assembly on 20 September on the wealth of opportunities offered by the oceans. The event was attended by heads of state and government and ministers from a number of countries.

‘Norway has also supported the initiative to appoint a UN special envoy for the oceans. Former President of the UN General Assembly Peter Thomson of Fiji was appointed to this important post in September, and Norway will support him in his work,’ Mr Brende said.

He further confirmed that the Norwegian Stortinget (or Parliament) had also approved in June this year, a white paper on the place of the oceans in Norwegian foreign and development policy.

“The white paper sets out three priority areas: sustainable use and blue growth, clean and healthy oceans, and the role of the blue economy in development policy. In the time ahead, the Government will conduct dialogues on ocean affairs with other countries with a view to strengthening cooperation in these three areas,” he said.

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New IMO Africa region Maritime Technology Cooperation Centre in Kenya a boon for continent’s ocean economy development

Pretoria: Wednesday:  02 March 2017

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The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) together with the South Africa International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) and Department of Transport are poised to play a significant role in the Africa region IMO/European Commission’s new R139-million worth Maritime Technology Cooperative Centre to Kenya.

The choice of Kenya as the host country of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) new regional Maritime Technology Cooperative Centre (MTCC) for the African region is a welcome development certain to further strengthen and enhance ongoing collaboration, knowledge sharing and innovation in the continent’s maritime sector development and growth.

This was the view of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) following to confirmation that the IMO awarded the hosting rights of the MTCC to the East African country last month. The Africa host of the new MTCC was announced as the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) together with the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA).

According to the IMO, the new Africa region MTCC will be one of five to be set up from this year in other countries as a part of a European Commission/IMO joint initiative to build capacity for climate mitigation in the world’s maritime shipping industry. They will be developed and funded by the European Commission to the tune of €10 000 000 (R139.42-million) over fours years,

The first two were announced in December 2016 as the Shanghai Maritime University in China (MTCC-Asia) and the University of Trinidad and Tobago (MTCC-Caribbean.)

IMG_2344The European Commission describes the project thus: “This four-year project will enable developing countries, especially Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States, in five target regions – Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Pacific, to effectively implement energy-efficiency and emissions reduction measures through technical assistance and capacity building. These regions have been chosen as they have significant number of LDCs and SIDSs.”

Following to the issuance of an invitation for expressions of interests by the IMO to member countries last June, 43 countries across the world, including nine in Africa responded. The African countries included South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Morocco, Egypt, Ghana, Tanzania, Madagascar and Nigeria.

South Africa’s bid was made jointly by the Department of Transport, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and the South Africa International Maritime Institute (SAIMI).

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(Photo, courtesy of IMO)

In a statement last month the IMO announced that: “Under the Global MTTC Network (GMN) project, JKUAT will host MTCC-Africa in collaboration with Kenya Ports Authority and Kenya Maritime Authority. The selection of JKUAT followed a competitive international tendering process.

“In the coming months two further MTCCs will be established in other target regions – Latin America and the Pacific – to form a global network of such centres.

“The five regional MTCCs will deliver the agreed project milestones over a three-year period, making a significant contribution to IMO’s continuing, widespread efforts to ensure effective implementation and enforcement of the global energy-efficiency regulations for international shipping.”

South Africa a focal point of the Africa MTCC

With the announcement SAMSA applauded Kenya and immediately committed to “South Africa’s concurrence to act as a focal point for the implementation of the Maritime Technology Cooperation Centre in Kenya.”

South Africa’s inclusion as a ‘focal point’ of the Africa region MTCC to be based in Nairobi was part of a broader arrangement on how the new centre will operate based on IMO requirements.

In correspondence with the Kenyan State Department of Shipping and Maritime Affairs and the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development, SAMSA said: “We confirm that we shall undertake the roles listed and required of the Focal Point by the IMO and to do all that will be necessary to ensure the success of the MTCC,” SAMSA said. It added: “Your (Kenyan) nomination of South Africa as a country focal point of the MTCC Africa for the Southern Africa region is testimony that proves a shared desire preoccupation which will serve to strengthen collaboration between our two countries.”

A race against gas emissions in oceans

img_6416The background and rationale to the global MTCC initiative according to the IMO, is that greenhouse gas emissions from shipping are expected to increase, yet developing countries who are increasingly playing a meaningful role in global shipping trade, lack in varying degrees the wherewithal to enhance energy efficiency in their shipping sectors.

“This project, formally entitled ‘Capacity Building for Climate Change Mitigation in the Maritime Shipping Industry’ will enable developing countries, especially Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States, in the target regions to effectively implement energy-efficiency measures through technical assistance, capacity building and promoting technical cooperation,” said the IMO

New MTCC’s focus areas

Precisely, the network of MTCCs globally, once operational, will focus on:

  • improving capability in the region – by working with maritime administrations, port authorities, other relevant government departments and related shipping stakeholders to facilitate compliance with international regulations on energy efficiency for ships
  • promoting the uptake of low-carbon technologies and operations in the maritime sector through pilot projects
    raising awareness about policies, strategies and measures for the reduction of GHG and other emissions from the maritime transport sector
  • demonstrating a pilot-scale system for collecting data and reporting on ships’ fuel consumption to improve shipowners’ and maritime administrations’ understanding in this regard, and
  • developing and implementing strategies to sustain the impact of MTCC results and activities beyond the project time-line.

The IMO described the JKUAT as “a multi-disciplinary university of global excellence in training, research and innovation that aims to produce leaders in the fields of agriculture, engineering and technology. The university provides degree courses related to maritime shipping and has a track record of engagement in regional maritime capacity building activities.

In addition, according to the IMO; “JKUAT has hosted  numerous conferences, seminars and workshops, and has a long history of collaboration with different organizations focused upon suitable energy solutions and maritime issues. MTCC-Africa will be strategically located at two offices in the Kenyan Coastal region, at JKUAT Mombasa Campus and at the Regional Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (RMRCC), situated within the Mombasa port facility.”

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