Meeting of the Commonwealth Mangrove Ecosystem and Livelihood Action Group

The Max Planck Foundation supports the Action Group Meeting in Negombo, Sri Lanka

The Mangrove Ecosystems and Livelihoods Action Group (MELAG) under the Commonwealth Blue Charter Meeting was held on 7-9 October 2019 in Negombo, Sri Lanka. The meeting was organised by Sri Lanka as a Commonwealth Blue Charter Champion to lead the action group on mangrove restoration, with the aim of deciding on a Work Plan for MELAG. Presently, nine other Commonwealth countries have joined MELAG, including Australia, the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Jamaica, Kenya, Nigeria, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom and Vanuatu. Representatives of MELAG member States, together with scientists, experts, academics, civil society organisations and the private sector participated in the meeting.

The meeting was opened by Mr A.A. Jawad, Acting Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sri Lanka, and Mr M.P.D.U.K. Mapa Pathirana, Acting Secretary of the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment. Ms Heidi Prislan, Adviser, Commonwealth Blue Charter – Trade, Oceans and Natural Resources, presented on the Commonwealth Blue Charter and the action groups that were formed as a part of this initiative.

This was followed by presentations by country representatives of Sri Lanka, Australia, the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Jamaica, Kenya, Nigeria, Trinidad and Tobago and the United Kingdom, on the status of mangrove conservation and restoration in each country. Countries shared best practices in efforts to conserve and restore mangroves, including legislative approaches, marine protected areas, declaration of sanctuaries, community-based associations and policies, such as ‘no net loss’. Each country also shared unique issues faced in protecting mangroves, which varied from anthropogenic causes to grazing to climate change. The meeting concluded with presentations by Sri Lankan civil society organisations and corporations who are involved in domestic conservation efforts.

The Foundation supported the Oceans and Climate Change Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sri Lanka by providing a research paper on mangrove decay and restoration, which was shared with all foreign delegates participating in the meeting. This was conducted as part of the German Foreign Office funded project, “The Implementation of UNCLOS: Supporting Maritime Governance in the Indian Ocean (Part II)“.