Grand-Béréby, 21st December 2020 – This Monday, Côte d’Ivoire erected the greater city of Grand-Béréby as the country's first Marine Protected Area (MPA). The statement was made by His Excellency Dr. Joseph Séka SEKA, Ivorian Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, representing the Prime Minister of Côte d'Ivoire, sponsor of the ceremony.

The ceremony took place in the presence of Philippe LÉGRÉ, Minister in charge of Maritime Affairs, representative for the Ministry of Tourism and Leisure, Ambassador Maria Leissner, representing the Swedish government , Mr. Philippe Poinsot resident coordinator of the United Nations system in Côte d'Ivoire as well as the administrative authorities of the region.

For Mr. Abou Bamba, Executive Secretary of the Convention, "It is with great satisfaction that we are witnessing this event which will forever change the history of our country. This Grand Béréby MPA will unlock the region's economic potential and contribute to the economic development of the country”.

Maria Lessner, Ambassador representing the Swedish government expressed her joy on this major achievement for the country and emphasized on women active participation: “the inclusion of women is very important in this project and is in line with the priorities of the Swedish government”.

The Abidjan Convention welcomes this historic event which marks the start of a new era in conservation in Côte d'Ivoire. The result of over 7 years of work under the coordination of the Abidjan Convention supported by its financial partners, the Grand-Béreby MPA is an example of a mutually beneficial partnership that combines the needs of local communities and the need to conserve biodiversity in an area known to be a nesting area for sea turtles and migration of mammals.

Since 2018, the Abidjan Convention has carried out study and assessment missions with the main support of the Swedish government and has proposed the creation of a network of 5 Marine Protected Areas: (i) the mouth of the Cavally river between Côte d'Ivoire and Liberia (ii) Grand-Bereby (iii) Azagny National Park (iv) the Côte d'Ivoire-Ghana cross-border coastal zone and (v), the Dassioko classified forest in the region of Grand-Lahou.

The identification of these 5 sites is a response to a desire to ensure that each region located on the Ivorian coast has at least one marine protected area under conditions allowing for shared management of marine and coastal resources located at the maritime borders between the Côte d'Ivoire and its neighbors Liberia and Ghana.

The Marine Protected Area of Grand-Béréby covers a total area of approximately 2,600 km ² on the Ivorian coast ranging from Kablaké Wapo in the west to Petit Digboué in the east of the region including the villages of Pitiké, Mani, Roc , Dawa, Ouro, Dosso, Takoro and Ménolé.

Its mission is to ensure the conservation of the region's ecological and genetic diversity (turtles, sharks, sea birds), the promotion of scientific research, education and recreation, the development of ecotourism, sustainable fishing and the self-promotion of communities bordering the protected area.

The Protected Marine Area of Grand-Béréby comes, as a gift not only to the population of the region, but also to world, on the evening of the end of the year celebrations.

Note to editors: The Convention on Cooperation in the Protection, Management and Development of the Marine Environment and Coastal Areas of the Atlantic Coast and of the West, Central and South Africa Region Sud - in short - Abidjan Convention is a regional seas program of the UN Environment. It constitutes the overall legal framework for any program related to the marine and coastal environment as well as the marine resources of the Atlantic side of Africa.

A Marine Protected Area is: “A clearly defined, recognized, consecrated and managed geographical space, by any effective means, legal or otherwise, in order to ensure long-term conservation of nature as well as ecosystem services and social values and historico-cultural associated with it ”. In other words a Marine Protected Area (MPA) is a marine area (coastal and offshore) that is established to protect the natural, cultural, social and economic resources of a particular place.

Vanessa Ahouadjiro