The Convention offers a regional legal framework and coordinates the efforts of the member states to plan and develop programmes that strengthen their capacity to protect, manage and develop their coastal and marine environment sustainably.
It also provides a forum for inter-governmental discussions that lead to better understanding of regional environmental problems and the strategies needed to address them; and promotes sharing of information and experiences in the WIO region and with the rest of the world.
Marine and coastal environments, and the goods and services they provide are under increasing pressure from unsustainable consumption and production patterns as well as ineffective management practices in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Some coastal urban hotspots are densely populated and rapidly industrializing. Those hotspots are facing a multitude of problems stemming from unplanned and unregulated land use patterns worsened by poor regulatory regimes.
Coastal tourism is an important industry in Mauritius, Seychelles, Kenya, Tanzania and the Republic of South Africa. At the same time, there is an interest in exploring and exploiting potential oil and gas reserves, which could further exacerbate the destruction of critical habitats such as coral reefs, mangroves, beaches and sea grass meadows.