June 22, 2010

Port Environmental Managers gather for 1st West & Central Africa Working Conference

Filed under: Africa, INECE Secretariat, seaports — inece @ 3:08 pm

From 15-17 June, following an intiative of a new NGO called Ports Environmental Network Africa (PENAf), environmental managers of the ports in the West & Central African Region met in Tema, Ghana for their first conference. The meeting was organized in collaboration with the Port Management Associations of West and Central Africa and of East and Southern Africa (PMAWCA and PMAESA). In-kind support was given through the ports of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, as well as through INECE.

The aim of the meeting was to create a platform for exchange of information, experiences and practical approaches to improve environmental performance in the port areas. Ports are vital to the economies of countries in the West and Central African region: more than 90% of their foreign trade moves through their ports, accounting for approximately 25% of their GDPs. Increasing trade and shipping activities will be important to fuel the economic growth. This implies substantial investment in the ports, including in environmental management to make them sustainable.

Important common issues in the ports of the region show a broad spectrum: waste from ship operations, oil spills, ballast water management, dredging, effluents, water quality, noise, dust, air pollution and habitat degradation. Another common denominator is the trade of legal and illegal waste through the ports and the associated risks for public and occupational health and the environment, both in the port area and the hinterland. Together with the ballast water and oil spill issues, waste shipment was the  major topic at the meeting. Raising awareness, building capacity, and stimulating concrete practical cooperation are important approaches towards assessing and improving the situation.

INECE was asked to familiarize the participants with its Seaport Environmental Security Network. To this end, a plenary presentation was given to highlight backgrounds, goals, and focus of the INECE SESN. Subsequently, during a workshop, the issue of waste shipments and their detection and follow-up was elaborated more in depth. During this very interactive session, a great deal of interest in the SESN approaches was shown, including from the Francophone countries represented at the meeting. Recommendations that emerged from the session included the development of an inventory in order to get the broader picture of the current situation with regards to the (management of) waste shipments in relevant ports.  The INECE SESN will continue to partner with PENAf in responding to compliance and enforcement capacity building needs of seaport environmental managers.

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