Ambassador Jessye Lapenn, the inaugural Senior Coordinator for Partnership for Atlantic Cooperation, has commended the Nigerian government for creating the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy, saying it was the right step in harnessing the benefits of the partnership.
During a round table with journalists in Abuja on Tuesday, the diplomat said the Atlantic was the world’s most travelled ocean, adding that the potential for economic gains through the Partnership for Atlantic Cooperation was enormous.
The new multilateral forum, launched on September 18, brings together a number of coastal Atlantic countries across Africa, Europe, North America, South America, and the Caribbean, including Nigeria.
While noting that Nigeria is a leader in the ocean space, Lapenn said she was in the country to discuss with Nigerian officials how to get the best of the partnership.
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“This is my first trip since the launch and it is really important for me to come to Nigeria as soon as we have launched the partnership. A big piece of my visit was in order to see the new minister for the blue economy.
“He joined Secretary Blinken in New York for the launch of the partnership…and now I have come to see him to hear what his vision for this new ministry, what’s Nigeria’s vision for a blue economy and how do we put those pieces together?”
She said she also wants to see the development in science, technology and the blue economy in Nigeria.
The Partnership is the first grouping to span both the North and South Atlantic and address a broad range of issues, from economic development to environmental protection to science and technology.
Previously the U.S. Ambassador to the African Union and the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Lapenn said the coming together of the 32 countries would help them tap the potentials of the Atlantic.
According to her, the purpose of the partnership is twofold – to enable Atlantic countries to expand cooperation on a range of shared goals and to uphold a set of shared principles for Atlantic cooperation.
The World Bank estimates that the ocean contributes $1.5 trillion annually to the global economy—and expects this figure to double by 2030.
Also, sustainable ocean economy sectors are estimated to generate almost 50 million jobs in Africa and contribute $21 billion to Latin American GDP.
Meanwhile, challenges like illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing; natural disasters; and illicit trafficking threaten this economy.
She said no country can solve the cross-boundary challenges in the Atlantic region or fully address the opportunities alone unless they all come to work together.