Vital Signs participated in the recently-concluded Sustainable Blue Economy Conference in Nairobi, Kenya (November 26-28) with a call for enhanced use of data and information to guide policies and decision making in the blue economy sector in Africa and beyond.
The conference was co-hosted by the governments of Kenya, Canada and Japan and attended by thousands of delegates from across the world.
Dr. Peter Alele, Africa Field Director for Vital Signs, was a panelist in a Side Event “Sustainable small-scale fisheries, coastal communities’ livelihood and Blue economy” organized by the Community Action for Nature Conservation (CANCO) and the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) among other partners.
During the engagements, Dr. Alele emphasized the importance of data and information to inform key decisions in enhancing productivity in the blue economy sector, including small-scale fisheries, without harming the health of critical ocean ecosystems.
“For the blue economy, we need data and information to make smart decisions on the areas we can produce more from and do so sustainably and areas that are vital to protect,” he told attendees of the side event.
Dr. Alele suggested that the more information is made available to blue economy players including small-scale fisheries, the more likely that the right decisions will be made regarding enhancing productivity while ensuring sustainability.
“The big thing is to ensure that the fishing communities can get data and information in relevant, applicable forms to make their operations more sustainable and profitable. The data can be an incentive for them to adopt sustainable practices,” he said.
He cited the example of the Ocean Health Index (OHI), a global tool which uses data to scientifically gauge the health of oceans in sustainably meeting the needs of people.
Currently, the OHI is being used to evaluate the health of oceans in Kenya and Tanzania, through Cordio East Africa on behalf of Vital Signs and Conservation International.
However, Dr. Alele expressed concerns that data within government and non-governmental institutions in the region is sometimes not readily accessible to other players and the public thus missing the opportunity for data to influence policy and decision making in various sectors including the blue economy.
He reiterated the recent call by the United Nations for a data revolution to help developing countries realize sustainable socioeconomic development guided by evidence-based decision making at the policy and investor levels.
“Going forward we need to harness the power of data tools and technologies available to make better decisions and to influence policies,” he said.
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