From the 26 -28 November 2018, Kenya is hosting the first Global Sustainable Blue Economy Conference (SBEC). The Conference was launched on 26 November by President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, with 10 other Heads of States at the Kenya International Conference Centre (KICC), Nairobi. As the first global conference on the sustainable blue economy, it brought together more than 17,000 participants from 183 countries around the world to learn how to build a blue economy that: harnesses the potential of oceans, seas, lakes and rivers to improve the lives of all, particularly people in developing states, women, youth and Indigenous peoples; and how to Leverage the latest innovations, scientific advances and best practice to build prosperity while conserving waters for future generations.
IOM Kenya co-hosted with the Government of Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) the Diaspora Forum Side Event. The side event held at the University of Nairobi’s Taifa Hall attracted more than 300 delegates including the Deputy Governor of Lamu, Hon Abdul Hakim Bwana, the Nigeria High Commissioner, and the Ambassador of Turkey. Other side event partners included the National Diaspora Council of Kenya, the United States International University-Africa, University of Nairobi, and Ford Foundation. Hon. Ababu Namwamba, MFA Chief Administrative Secretary, in his keynote message, expressed “our most sincere gratitude to the IOM for the technical and financial support. I assure the IOM of continued collaboration in the area of migration management.” IOM Kenya Chief of Mission, Michael Pillinger cited “the importance of recognizing migrants and diaspora contributions to national development beyond remittances as well as global partnerships to make the Blue Economy inclusive and empowering for all migrants, as envisaged in the Global Compact for Migration which will be signed in Morocco in December 2018, as well as a key commitment in the Kenya United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) 2018-2022.”
Professor Mbithi, Vice Chancellor of the University of Nairobi, noted that “sustainable use of the ocean and other water bodies for economic growth and wealth is desired. However, this needs to be achieved in an ecologically and environmentally sustainable manner. All stakeholders need to be engaged including the diaspora, the governments, private agencies and all citizens.” The Diaspora Forum had three panels which covered remittances and investments in the context of international solidarity, challenges faced by diaspora, and looking at the role of international organizations in this process. Philippine Embassy Consul Maynard Maleon shared the Philippine experience in providing institutional assistance to its nationals and the amendment of its national laws to protect migrants as a lesson from a 1995 tragedy with one of its migrant workers in Singapore.Overall moderator for the event was Dr Emmanuel Mutisya, Chair of Diaspora Council of Kenya, and currently based in Tokyo. The panel session on the role international organizations was moderated IOM Kenya’s Project Development and Liaison Officer, Romina Sta. Clara.
IOM’s Africa Capacity Building Centre (ACBC) Migration Management Specialist, Marcellino Ramkishun, emphasized the importance of the African Union’s Free Movement Protocol as well as engaging, enabling and empowering communities to leverage human, social, intellectual and financial capital for migration and development linkages in the Blue Economy. Ghana Immigration Service Assistant Commissioner, Justice Amevor highlighted the maritime security challenges in Ghana and justice and security initiatives for immigration reform in Liberia. The Forum also provided space for the different researches on African diaspora, sustainable fisheries, remittances from Kenyans, diaspora experiences in local development initiatives including water and waste management technology. The graduate students present were also challenged to look at maritime security, investment security, political commitments and good practices around the world to harness the potentials and social capital of migrants and diaspora for sustainable and inclusive blue economy.