President Yoweri Museveni has emphasized Uganda’s commitment to a sustainable blue economy despite challenges such as soil erosion as a result of the large numbers of the population being engaged in rudimentary farming methods, pollution by industrial affluence and population pressures on natural resources leading to issues such as overfishing. The president was speaking at the first global Sustainable Blue Economy Conference (SBEC) held in Nairobi at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) that was attended by more than 16,320 participants from 184 countries including 7 Heads of State and Government, 84 Ministers, several Heads of International Organizations, Mayors and Governors, Business and private sector, community leaders, civil society, women and youth organizations. He stressed that Africa can only tackle these issues by pushing the industrialization agenda. “We must look at increasing electricity output and create jobs in industries,” he stated. “You will not stop forest encroachment for example by farmers if you do not offer them alternative employment” he added.

 The Conference themed “The Blue Economy and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” was aimed at equipping participants with the knowledge to harnesses the potential of oceans, seas, lakes and rivers to improve the lives of all, particularly people in developing countries, women, youth and indigenous peoples as well as leveraging the latest innovations, scientific advances and best practices to build prosperity while conserving our waters for future generations. It was predicated on Production, Accelerated Economic Growth, Jobs and Poverty Alleviation and Sustainability, Climate Change and Controlling Pollution.

There were consistent messages throughout the conference in which participants acknowledged the critical role that oceans, seas, lakes and rivers play in the success of the UN Agenda 2030 and the SDGs. At the same time, they expressed concern on the negative impact of human activities on the viability of these resources and the survival of the life they support.

Through the three days, delegates engaged very productively in the eight components of the conference which included Leaders Commitment Segment, Leaders Circle, Signature Thematic Sessions, Side Events, Business and Private Sector Forum, Governors and Mayors Convention, Science and Research Symposium and the Civil Society Forum.

The 218 speakers delivered statements during the Leaders’ Commitment Segment in which leaders emphasized the need for global collaboration to harness the opportunities and tackle the challenges affecting the blue economy resources. They also emphasized the need to create enabling environment for investment, to fight illegal activities in the maritime domain, and to involve all including women and youth in the development of a sustainable blue economy.