In view of the major discoveries oil and gas in the WIO region and the potential social and economic impacts on the economies of the countries on one hand and negative environmental impacts on the other hand, it is prudent that adequate governance mechanisms are put in place. Governments in the region recognized this as an emerging issue and in the Fifth Meeting of the Contracting Parties, held in South Africa in 2007 the Nairobi Convention Secretariat was requested to assist governments to address the issue within the framework of the Nairobi Convention. This was reaffirmed at Focal Points Meeting held in 5 August 2012 in Maputo, Mozambique. The paper also responds to Article 4 d of the Convention, that obliges governments to ensure that new or existing activities, developments, programs, plans and processes that are likely to cause significant adverse environmental impacts are subjected to the coastal and marine environment are subjected to environmental impact assessment, or environmental audits, strategic environmental assessment or strategic environmental assessment as may be appropriate. The Secretariat in partnership with WWF, WIOMSA and other members of the Consortium for Conservation of Coastal and Marine Ecosystems (WIO-C) have prepared an exploratory paper that outlines elements of a conducive investment climate on oil and gas.
As the governments of the WIO-Region are keen to develop an attractive investment climate, this paper argues that this should be guided by measures that safeguard environmental benefits. Important elements of such measures on oil and gas exploration in the region could include: i) Appropriate policies, plans and legislation; ii) systems and tools such as strategic environmental assessments and sensitivity mapping; iii) accountability, transparency, public participation, capacity building; and iv) regional harmonization and cooperation including research and development partnerships, regional dialogue and funding mechanisms.