2019 marked the end of the 2018-2019 biennium. As per usual, the biennium culminated with the Regional Conference, which took place in October 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. During the Regional Conference priority actions for the next cycle in view to enhancing oil spill preparedness and response in the region were set and summarized in recommendations. These recommendations were put forward by the national delegates from the GI WACAF participating countries and are all presented in the Report of the GI WACAF Regional Conference 2019. Based on the recommendations, the Project’s Secretariat prepared a strategic action plan and a work program for the 2020-2021 biennium, which were both approved by the Project’s Steering Committee.
Unfortunately, the implementation of the work program by the GI WACAF Secretariat has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic (see the “2020 review” section below). The implementation phase should have started in March 2020 with a national workshop in Togo, followed in April by a sub-regional workshop for English-speaking countries in Ghana on the ratification and effective implementation of IMO conventions into national law. However, the GI WACAF Secretariat has been able to adapt to this unforeseen situation and several remote activities were implemented. A new webinar series on oil spill preparedness and response was launched in June and several countries benefited from remote assistance on the domestication of IMO conventions or on the review of their draft National Oil Spill Contingency Plan (NOSCP).
At the same time, the Project continued to take part in external initiatives dedicated to oil spill preparedness and response in the region. Recognized as a key regional player, GI WACAF was contacted by the PRCM (Regional Partnership for the Conservation of the Coastal and Marine Area in West Africa) to contribute to a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on the environmental management of offshore oil and gas activities. The Project was also contacted by the World Bank to contribute to the West Africa State of the Coast Report 2020.
Thus, the reconstruction of the Project’s way to operate was based on three main pillars, and has been made possible with the constant and constructive support from the Project’s members and stakeholders:
- Remote assistance on technical and policy aspects;
- Online training; and
- Networking and partnership.
As the 2020 Annual Report shows, several projects have been delivered or are currently underway under each of these three pillars. Even if the GI WACAF Secretariat hopes to be back as soon as possible in the region and deliver face-to-face activities again, this reorganisation allowed for the continuation of the journey towards better oil spill preparedness and response capacities in the region.