On March 25, 2021, Team Europe, in collaboration with the Governors of Kenya’s six coastal counties, the Ministry of Devolution, and the Blue Economy Secretariat, launched the Go Blue initiative in Kenya. The four-year initiative aims to conserve Kenya’s coastal habitats while also generating environmentally sustainable employment in recycling, tourism, and small-scale fishing. It aims to create more than 3,000 jobs for youth and women in six coastal counties by fostering a “sustainable blue economy.”

The blue economy is based on natural resources derived from marine and coastal ecosystems, and Kenya’s coast is rich in untapped maritime resources. The program’s ultimate goal is to unlock the potential of sea-land opportunities in coastal cities for long-term, inclusive, and sustainable economic development with job creation.

Go Blue Growth seeks to accelerate long-term, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth in urban coastal areas, with a positive effect on job creation and jobs, especially for young people and women. Three pillars support this specific goal: Skills and Value Chain, Fisheries and Agriculture, and Cultural Heritage and Tourism. Go Blue also aims to mainstream the conservation and sustainable use of the coastal urban and marine environment in policy and behavioural planning and management, particularly for young people and women, in direct relation to sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth and coastal tourism, as well as climate change mitigation and adaptation steps. A healthy and stable maritime territory in Kenya is essential for further developing and expanding a vibrant blue economy while also improving the lives and livelihoods of coastal communities through new income-generating activities and opportunities.

The European Union has provided Go Blue with a grant of 25 million Euros. France, Germany, Italy, and Portugal, four EU Member States, will have technical expertise on economic development. While two UN organizations, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and UN-Habitat, will ensure that interventions are in line with environmental protection and urban planning priorities and that the project aids coastal cities and communities in adapting to climate change adverse effects. Kenya’s marine and coastal ecosystems are highly important in terms of ecosystem services, and many people depend on them for their livelihoods. Rather than depleting or polluting these resources, Kenya is attempting to find ways to exploit and preserve them through the “Go Blue Initiative”.

Climate change and pollution are putting rising pressure on maritime ecosystems around the world, including those in Kenya. Along its coast, Kenya has a wealth of untapped maritime resources. Go Blue will concentrate on assisting coastal cities in developing those services in a way that is both equitable and beneficial to women and youth. The initiative will promote inclusive, integrated, and sustainable economic growth by fostering new job streams such as small-scale fishing, waste processing, aquaculture, and tourism, as well as technical skills in blue economy sectors, strengthening supply chains, and addressing regional bottlenecks.

It will also support coastal counties’ efforts to establish integrated land-sea planning and management approaches that prioritize the restoration of key coastal and marine habitats. Finally, Kenya’s Coast Guard would be better equipped to protect maritime properties. To achieve a sustainable blue economy, different levels of government must collaborate on integrated urban planning solutions–both on land and in water–while taking into account various sectors.

Go Blue will be implemented in collaboration with national ministries such as the Blue Economy Secretariat, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Kenya Coast Guard Service, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Transport, and Bandari Maritime Academy, as well as the Jumuiya ya Kaunti za Pwani – Kenya’s coast regional counties Economic Development Organization.

UN-Habitat and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) will assist the six countries in implementing three methodologies. First, a land-sea planning and management structure that is integrated and ecosystem-based, which will enhance spatial planning second with mapping, data collection, and review for urban planning and ecosystem evaluations, and finally a regional land-sea vision to prioritize blue economy-related issues. This information will be fed into each county’s GIS data lab, as well as a regional GIS data hub, in order to improve data collection and analysis on land-use changes, urbanization and environmental change trends, marine and coastal natural assets, and human activity (e.g. fisheries, tourism, waste). Waste management, built wetlands, blue carbon, mangrove regeneration, spatial planning, and community empowerment will all be supported by the initiative. Through the initiative’s online knowledge-sharing network and training, the information and evidence from all activities will be used to promote replication in other Kenyan towns. In addition, as a result of the program, four counties could have created their own land-sea planning plans, and six groundbreaking activities that specifically contribute to the blue economy and land-sea planning would be financed by investors.

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