President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda was among the top African leaders to deliver an address Monday during the opening session of the Blue Economy Conference in Nairobi, Kenya.
Museveni said he was at first skeptical about the summit on oceans and water resources, but came to the conclusion that marine protection and economic development are critical to Africa’s future.
“I noticed this is about our survival, linked with the Sustainable Development Goals. The linkage between our water resources and survival cannot be overemphasized,” he said in a reflection he posted after his return to Uganda.
Population pressures, soil erosion and climate-related disasters like landslides all tie to rivers and other water resources, he noted.
“Pollution by industrial affluence driven by greed,” Museveni said, adding to his list. “This is manifested in the use of cheap and oftentimes dangerous inputs with the sole objective of maximizing profit, even at the expense of the environment.”
Some measures taken by the Ugandan government include better farming techniques, proactive shoreline and wetlands management, and more oversight on fishing.
“We have started a war on poor fishing practices on our waters. For now, we are relying on rudimentary methods to patrol the waters but we shall advance with installation of surface radars to enable satellite monitoring,” he said. “We shall also require electronic registration of all vessels operating on our waters. This way, we shall know who is on the water and what they are doing. We must, for example ask, how many people should be fishing in a square kilometer?”
The Ugandan leader was joined by top officials from Djibouti, Niger, Madagascar and more, pledging to act on the “blue” environmental and economic issues.
The Blue Economy Conference continues through Wednesday. For more information, see the event website.
Image: Yoweri Museveni