President Yoweri Museveni has underscored sustainable conservation of water bodies as a prerequisite for human survival.
“When we talk about blue economy, we are talking about life. There is no life without water. We should link water resources to human survival,” he said.
The President was today presenting the Government of Uganda’s commitment to sustainable blue economy at the opening of the 3-day conference at Kenya International conference centre in the Kenyan Capital of Nairobi.
The Sustainable Blue Economy conference is the first global meeting on the sustainable conservation of water bodies aimed at harnessing the potential of oceans, seas, lakes and rivers to improve the lives of all, particularly people in developing states, especially women and youth.
This conference, whose theme is ‘The Blue Economy and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’ is being hosted by the Government of Kenya in partnership with Japan and Canada as co-hosts and has attracted over 4,000 participants from around the world.
The President said that although Uganda is a land locked country, it shares water bodies like Lake Victoria and River Nile, with neighboring countries adding that conservation of those water bodies is paramount to realize their benefits like provision of food, energy, employment as well as formation of rain and regulation of the climate.
Citing challenges to sustainable water conservation in Uganda, he said that the country is grappling with human interference with vegetation, which causes soil erosion and silting of rivers and lakes; cultivation on hills resulting into over fishing and dumping.
The President outlined government commitment to water body conservation through controlled fishing, installation of surface radars to monitor lake activities, resettling of people who live in wetlands as well as electronic registration of all boats’ operations on lakes and rivers.
He castigated misuse of water bodies by developed countries through poor industrial waste disposal, which he attributed to greed, while the same vice is perpetrated by peasants in developing countries who destroy vegetation around water bodies in search of land for settlement and cultivation.
He, however, said that in both instances concrete sustainable water bodies’ conservation should be priority for concerned governments.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, the host, while presenting his country’s commitment said that the Kenyan government has embarked on a plan to conserve water bodies by combating illegal fishing and ensuring security on water, banned single use plastics and provided funds for improved water conservation, among others.
He called for combined effort from all members in the preservation of the world’s water bodies.
“Unless our environmental resources are conserved, there will be no survivor on earth. Success in management of our aquatic resources hinges on us working together,’’ he said.
The President of Seychelles, Danny Faure, currently the champion for Blue Economy in Africa, said that good governance and transparency are key in realizing a sustainable blue economy.
The conference will, among other things, identify ways of harnessing the potential of the water bodies to create jobs and combat poverty and hunger; show how economic development and healthy waters go hand in hand as well as capture commitments and practical actions that can be taken for positive changes.
In addition, it will bring together the players needed to transition to a blue economy.
It will also endeavor to leverage the latest innovations, scientific advances and best practices to build prosperity while conserving the waters for future generations.
Several African leaders and government representatives as well as representatives from International Organisations like the United Nation and the African Union also delivered messages of commitment.
The Sustainable Blue Economy Conference builds on the momentum of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the 2015 Climate Change Conference in Paris and the UN Ocean Conference 2017 “Call to Action.”