In a world grappling with the urgent need for environmental conservation, the establishment of Transboundary Conservation Areas (TBCAs) has emerged as a critical strategy for preserving marine ecosystems. One such effort is the collaboration between Kenya and Tanzania, facilitated by the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA), to establish a Transboundary Conservation Area in the Western Indian Ocean. This initiative aims to bolster the capacity for transboundary MPA management, ensuring effective aquatic biodiversity conservation and environmental protection in the region. To support this initiative, AU-IBAR together with the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA) supported a national meeting in Tanzania from 24-25 August 2024 to build the capacity for transboundary MPA management in Kenya and Tanzania.
The Local-Level Stakeholder Processes
The journey towards creating a Transboundary Conservation Area between Kenya and Tanzania began with extensive local-level stakeholder engagement. These consultations sought to explore the potential TBCA management zones, options, and most importantly, to increase community involvement in the planning process. Through these engagements, valuable insights emerged, including spatial planning scenarios and a comprehensive mapping of stakeholder values and objectives. Moreover, these processes played a pivotal role in raising awareness about marine transboundary management and the crucial need for conservation within local communities.
Despite the significant strides made at the grassroots level, progress at the policy level has been relatively slow. Recognizing the need to accelerate the process, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the Marine and Coastal Environmental Management Program (MPRU) agreed to initiate bilateral discussions to address policy-related matters. To facilitate this, the African Union's Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), in collaboration with WIOMSA and the Nairobi Convention, supported the first in-country meetings. The meetings assessed the progress made in TBCA planning and lay the foundation for subsequent policy and stakeholder processes, with KWS and MPRU taking the lead in their respective countries.
The Roadmap for Transboundary Conservation
To drive the TBCA process forward, KWS and MPRU embark on a series of activities, with support from the Nairobi Convention, WIOMSA, AU-IBAR, and GIZ. The objectives of this workshop were as follows:
Develop a country roadmap toward regional collaboration in the Kenya-Tanzania Transboundary Marine Conservation Area (TBCA) for the effective conservation of aquatic biodiversity and the protection of the environment.
1. Orient and Update Relevant Ministries and Departments: Inform key government entities about the progress of TBCA planning and develop a roadmap for their engagement.
2. Reaffirm Government Commitments: Review and reaffirm the government's commitment to establishing the means for implementing transboundary management initiatives (TBCAs).
3. Spatial Management Plan: Review and discuss the design criteria and preliminary results for the TBCA spatial management plan.
4. Institutional Arrangements: Finalize institutional arrangements and planning decisions necessary to facilitate the establishment of the TBCA.
5. Plan for Bilateral Discussions: Develop a plan for bilateral discussions to advance the TBCA policy process.
Expected Outputs and Outcomes:
1. Government Commitment: Motivate the government of Tanzania to commit to the TBCA process, fostering cross-border cooperation.
2. Roadmap Development: Create a roadmap to guide and accelerate the TBCA process, ensuring it moves forward efficiently.
3. Government Awareness: Update government officials on the activities undertaken by WIOMSA, KWS, MPRU, and other project partners involved in TBCA development.
4. Spatial Management Criteria: Develop design criteria and results for TBCA, ensuring that these align with marine spatial planning (MSP) processes.
5. Next Steps: Provide Tanzanian officials with the opportunity to contribute input and identify the next steps in the TBCA establishment process.
The collaborative efforts between Kenya and Tanzania, with support from various organizations and stakeholders, are poised to make significant strides in marine conservation. By strengthening regional cooperation and establishing a Transboundary Conservation Area, the two nations are taking a vital step towards preserving the rich aquatic biodiversity and protecting the environment of the Western Indian Ocean for generations to come.