Management of the Benguela Current Marine Ecoregion

Project description

Title: Conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in the Benguela Current Marine Ecoregion
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB)
Country: Angola, Namibia, South Africa
Lead executing agency: Benguela Current Commission (BCC)
Overall term: 2014 to 2020


The Benguela Current Marine Ecoregion stretches along the coast of South Africa, Namibia and Angola. It is considered one of the world’s most productive and biodiverse marine regions. In recognition of its unique natural capital, the three states have committed themselves under the Benguela Current Convention to protecting the region’s marine biodiversity. In addition, it is to be incorporated into a coordinated strategy for sustainable development.

In spite of this major policy success, there remains a growing threat to marine biodiversity in the region – through offshore mining, for example. The capacity of key actors varies across the region, and in many areas is insufficient. This makes it difficult to implement policies and strategies to create the enabling conditions required to protect and make sustainable use of the ecoregion.

These challenges are also visible in efforts to conserve the ecologically or biologically significant marine areas (EBSAs) in the region. The first 15 EBSAs in the ecoregion have been defined. This procedure must now be integrated and embedded in an overarching process. What is needed is a multi-sectoral marine spatial planning (MSP) procedure that is incorporated into the structures and regulations in the countries. However, so far this has only been applied to coastal areas.


The capacity of the Benguela Current Commission (BCC) and its member states is strengthened. They contribute to the sustainable management of the Benguela Current’s marine biodiversity and marine natural resources.


The project helps states bordering the ecoregion to develop a common vision of how the biodiverse marine areas can be put to socioeconomic use in a way that is ecologically sustainable in the long term. GIZ supports the partners involved with making a joint decision on ways to conserve biodiversity and protect the region’s natural capital, while at the same time exploiting these riches for the sustainable development of communities. In this way, GIZ is making a major contribution to conserving the foundations of marine life and the economy in the context of national and regional development planning.

Ecologically or biologically significant marine areas (EBSAs) are defined and measures implemented for their protection and sustainable use. The aim is also to anchor and implement marine spatial planning (MSP) on an institutional basis. This is to be achieved by disseminating concepts and instruments geared to EBSAs and MSP, so that they are taken into account and integrated into national and regional strategies. It is also essential to strengthen the structures and processes of the Benguela Current Commission (BCC) in areas where national responsibilities overlap with regional cooperation.

Defining the ecoregion’s EBSAs and developing the necessary policies and the legal and institutional framework serves to ensure the sustainable management of marine natural resources in the partner region and the ongoing conservation of marine biodiversity.

The newly empowered BCC and its member states are better placed to meet their responsibilities under the Benguela Convention. In addition, the results and experiences, as well as the project’s products and services are incorporated into international policy and negotiation processes as part of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).