Mitigating climate change through maritime security

Tuesday, September 26th, 2023 01:15 | By
Kenya Coast Guard Service
Kenya Coast Guard Service. PHOTO/Kenya Coast Guard Service/Facebook

The reality of climate change, and attendant threats posed to humanity may not be overstated.

 Evidence of the scourge of climate change manifests anywhere one looks, or from abounding impacts felt by all. Evidently, no sector seems left unscathed, making climate change a hot topic crying out for apt interventions on the global market.

September 4 to 6, Kenya hosted the Africa Climate Summit at KICC, Nairobi. This summit, championed by President William Ruto, was aimed to serve as a platform to “inform, frame, and influence commitments, pledges, and outcomes, ultimately leading to the development of the Nairobi Declaration.

That the summit, being a resounding success is not in doubt. Indeed, given that Africa, and the rest of the World converged to deliberate on this important topic that is posing an existential threat to humanity is in itself telling. Africa, in one unequivocal voice, and as never before, spoke directly to the Global North as the abusers, and herself as the victim bearing the brunt of the impact of climate action’s irresponsibility.

Accountability over either actions or inactions was therefore called for from those with the most culpability. Reparations to mitigate and right the problem were equally tabled.

Most discussions to inform on climate change phenomena are framed around the known environments of land and air spaces. Little, or nothing on such agendas framed focuses on the maritime sector. Yet this grey or dark ‘unknown’ domain is what is most abused and in need of more interventions.

Unfortunately, our waters (oceans, seas, lakes and rivers), unknown and ‘faceless’ as they are, are all threatened by unscrupulous or unsustainable extractive activities. It’s a frontier very little is known, hence remains a vast ungoverned “no-man’s-land” where any form of criminality goes!

It’s - especially the deep seas - that cesspool where dumping of hazardous material happens. The place where unsustainable fishing by commercial trawlers by rich nations and crooked sea poachers’ prey - leaving coral destruction and depletion of endangered species in their trail. It is where nuclear testing routinely happens. Where oil spills by merchant ships and oil exploration takes place. And prospecting and mining of minerals goes on unabated. This, in a nutshell, is an outlaw arena, with the destruction of the maritime ecosystem, yet holds the key to the future of humanity!

Therefore, with such an outlaw tag to our global waters, maritime security becomes the only imperative as a solution. This should be achieved through a concerted global maritime law enforcement strategy of collaborative partnerships and synergies of coalitions of willing nations. No silo maritime law enforcement approach may suffice as an effective intervention.  Kenya joined the global proactive maritime law enforcement in 2018 through establishment of the Kenya Coast Guard Service.

The Service, though relatively youthful, is primed to be a “premier” maritime law enforcement service provider, and with the onerous mandate of providing the security and safety over our national territorial waters.

This is generally achieved through enforcement of all maritime laws, protection of maritime resources, aiding in sustainable utility of our maritime resources, providing safe passage of sea vessels within territorial waters, tackling insidious maritime transnational threats such as gun running, trafficking in persons and narcotics etc.

As we continue to discharge our mandate, together with our cherished partners, we stand committed to make an invaluable contribution towards a mitigated climate change for a better world for all. A concerted maritime security action plus similar corrective interventions can save the world from the scourge of climate change.

— The writer is the Director General, Kenya Coast Guard Service

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