The Conference of Parties to the Abidjan Convention, during its eleventh meeting in March 2014 in Cape Town, mandated the Secretariat of the Abidjan to kick-off work on drafting a protocol on environmental standards to be observed in oil and gas development activities in West, Central and South Africa’s Atlantic waters. The Abidjan Convention’s Secretariat is currently working with panel of experts with the aim to produce a draft protocol for submission to the Conference of Parties during their meeting in 2017. A communiqué from the Secretariat indicates the importance of having this new regulatory instrument to prevent environmental disasters stemming from the “rush in offshore oil exploration and exploitation along Africa’s Atlantic coast”. The document further notes that “all countries in the Abidjan Convention (22 in total) area are either exploring or have begun extracting oil offshore”.

This protocol will certainly be an important step towards ensuring the sustainability of natural resources in African States. Therefore, it is important to achieve a wide consensus on the text of the protocol. This will require, among others, involving the civil society and private sector to ensure that all voices are heard.

  • How can this be achieved?
  • What should be the minimum content of such text?
  • What monitoring and enforceability mechanisms should be in place?
  • What sanctions should envisaged?

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