The coastal and marine environment of the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region is a hotspot of biodiversity hosting over 2,200 species of fish, five species of marine turtles and more than thirty five marine mammal species. The region boasts of the longest unfragmented fringing reef in the world, with over 350 species of corals, and a diverse assemblage of coastal forests, mangrove forests and seagrass beds. It is estimated that about 22% of the species found in the WIO region are unique to this region. The ecosystem services provided by this rich marine environment are estimated at over 25 billion US$ per year and more than 60 million people directly depend on these ecosystems.
Time for action
Today, because of its particular exposure and vulnerability, the WIO region is facing the full scale of the climate and biodiversity crisis, directly putting more than 60 million people lives at risk. 2019 Idai and Kenneth Cyclones are the most recent catastrophic events that illustrate the urgent need to take action to protect these communities, conserve these ecosystems and restore their biodiversity so that the people that rely upon them for goods and services as well as for their livelihoods and income will be less impacted and more resilient
Towards a blue future...
The world is about to enter into a decisive period of its history. The next 10 years (2020-2030) will determine the future of our and the next generations for centuries. Unprecedented challenges require unprecedented solutions. Aware of this reality, IUCN has redesigned its WIO coastal and marine resilience program strategy to efficiently address current challenges.
This new strategy called Towards a Blue Future, is composed of 3 key pillars:
- The Blue Planet pillar aims at securing the integrity of critical marine and coastal ecosystems.
- The Blue People pillar aims at increasing ocean leadership and benefits to the people.
- The Blue Partnerships pillar aims at establishing the necessary partnerships to dramatically accelerate marine and coastal conservation at scale.
This strategy aims at responding to the needs of the WIO region, both in terms of conservation and development. Because keeping ecosystems healthy and protecting biodiversity provides so many benefits, unlocking the potential of WIO’s natural capital by promoting the development of a blue economy represents a unique opportunity.
For more information, please contact:
Thomas Sberna, Regional Technical Coordinator – Coastal and Ocean Resilience. Thomas.Sberna@iucn.org