The coastal waters within the convention area contain highly productive ecosystems that support rich fisheries. The coastal area also supports coastal tourism, industries and numerous busy ports. These ecosystems provide an important livelihood for many coastal communities.
The region, however, has seen serious conflicts resulting in immense human suffering and poverty. In the last three decades or so, the rapid development, improper use of resources and extensive pollution has impacted negatively on the coastal ecosystems.
Coastal erosion and floods are key problems, likely to be exacerbated by climate change. Destruction of critical habitats is wide spread in the convention area, and coastal communities are both the perpetrators and victims of this destruction.
The West and Central Africa Region (WACAF) Action Plan was adopted in 1981 and came into force in 1984.
The Abidjan Convention was adopted in 1981 and came into force in 1984.
Associated protocol concerns: Pollution in Cases of Emergency (adopted 1981, in force 1984)
A number of difficulties, including competing priorities and lack of resources, resulted in slow progress in activities of the Abidjan Convention between 1990 and 2002. But today the Convention is back on track with a fully fledged Secretariat established in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.
Armed with renewed political goodwill from the Contracting Parties, together with the opportunities presented through other initiatives such as the African Process for the Development and Management of the Coastal and Marine Resources and the New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD), they can finally begin to fulfill the promise of their potentially rich and prosperous region and its natural splendors. It has developed its regional scope to include now Southern African countries. Today the convention covers the geographical region from Mauritania to South Africa.
The Abidjan Convention also hopes to learn and benefit from the family of Regional Seas programmes such as the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR) region.
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