4. Good practice in SAP and NAP implementation

The LME approach has promoted multidisciplinary research and assessment, and has led to the development of networks of LME practitioners and cooperation among countries, institutions, and individual scientists, resource managers and decision-makers (UNESCO 2008). SAPs should be based on agreed principles (the precautionary principle), a shared vision for the state of the LME desired by the countries, and LME-wide revised governance mechanisms (Duda 2014). SAPs must include an adaptive management mechanism which should describe a highly dynamic and responsive science to management flow, to allow for the rapid response of decision makers to a new or emerging issue.

A standardized logical results framework would be a useful tool for a SAP with clear targets and indicators to show progress, targets, partners and roles. This would also assist with more pragmatic goals for SAPs (UNDP 2017). With the results framework standardized across SAPs, it would allow for the tracking of progress and comparisons of approaches and achievements across LME regions.

The use of SAP implementation demonstration projects can be useful for testing and refining SAP tools, and can provide good results that can be used for replication and scaling up to national or regional levels. The selection of demonstration sites must be carried out carefully, to be distributed fairly across the region and to keep a close link to SAP objectives.

Legal arrangements

Attempting to fully harmonise laws between countries during the SAP implementation phase may be overly ambitious, and can risk losing political support for the process. A more acceptable approach would be to obtain broad agreement on collaboration and cooperation, which would lead to gradual convergence of legislation over a longer period of time.

Institutional arrangements

In many LMEs, there is still an urgent need for more formal and better coordination and agreement on roles and responsibilities between mandated bodies that deal with various aspects of ecosystem-based management of living marine resources (UNDP 2017).

The SAP process itself has no pre-determined legal and institutional basis, so it is up to the participating countries to select the institutional arrangements and designate the entity under which the SAP implementation is anchored. There is very rarely one body that already has a formal mandate that covers most or all of the LME management requirements as LME management and governance is still very fragmented (indeed, the very justification for introducing the LME approach). As a consequence, joint management is usually through strengthening and improving the use of legal regional entities that already exist, or through the creation of new Commissions.

The five general models of GEF experiences with governance changes as stated in SAPs are the following:

adopting numerical targets/deadlines in the UNEP regional seas programs with reporting to give commitment to action,

adding a protocol or new legally binding component to an existing legally-binding convention arrangement,

chasing a new legally binding agreement/mechanism for the LME, to be negotiated,

establishing a new non-binding intergovernmental institution/commission with numerical targets/deadlines/ other features, and

several variants of non-binding actions using the existing fragmented governance arrangements, with the hope that coordination/science/capacity building will lead to the adoption of ecosystem based approaches (Duda 2016).

Where an existing regional seas body is used, it is important for the LME process to be implemented across regional seas areas (where LMEs overlap across two or more regional seas) or into ABNJ where LMEs extend into the adjacent high seas. In the Agulhas and Somali Current LME region, the original African mainland EEZ LME boundary was extended to include the Mascarene Plateau and the surrounding high seas.

Institutional arrangements play a critical role in ensuring the effective implementation of a project, and in contributing to the sustainability of activities and results beyond the project period. The International Waters programme has noted that weaknesses on the part of GEF executing agencies have previously resulted in substantial problems during project implementation. Duda et. al. (2002) recommends that GEF consider a more rigorous assessment of the suitability of proposed executing agencies to ensure competent project execution.

Any decision on the institutional arrangements for anchoring the SAP must be made with full involvement and agreement of participating countries. Since the LME approach does not usually fall naturally to one single body, rivalry and conflict can present challenges to the process.

It is generally considered unproductive to separate the land-based, coastal and offshore and fisheries components of the SAP, as this can lead to competition between agencies and can make it very difficult to implement a single integrated, ecosystem-based SAP. In some cases, where there had been a geographic division between land-based and offshore TDAs, this has resulted in the development of more than one SAP, which is confusing and distracting for participating countries (UNDP 2017).

Reforms that are recommended in the SAP might be at international/regional scale (sometimes an economic organization such as South African Development Community - SADC or the Organisation of American States - OAS), national scale, or sub-national scale at municipality or community level. Involving agencies that have regular programmes might assist the LME reform process, as agencies (such as UNDP) might improve the sustainability by mainstreaming sectoral reforms needed, into their regular development programmes, independent of GEF finance, following the GEF intervention (Duda et. al. 2002).

Management arrangements

The implementation of a SAP should be realistically based on the management resources available while also acknowledging that a system that is currently NOT functioning well, is unlikely to transform itself without a significant revision of mandate, capacity and funding.

Identifying an appropriate institution for SAP implementation should be identified as early as possible during the TDA/SAP process. This assists in creating ownership and to provide a good transition from TDA to SAP and then to SAP implementation. The choice of institution is critical as performance and long-term sustainability will hinge on its capacities and institutional strengths.

Partners in the LME Strategic Approach

Partnerships for SAP implementation are valuable for sharing activities, as well as for co-financing. Most, if not all LMEs, have entered into partnership arrangements of some kind for SAP implementation. The use of Activity or Thematic Centres supported by host countries can be a very useful tool for the delivery of SAP implementation – for long term monitoring, as well as for supporting communities of practice in LMEs over the long term.

Important partners include the Regional Seas Programmes that deal primarily with coastal and inshore marine environmental issues such as pollution and habitat degradation. A number of these programmes are administered by UN Environment, such as the Nairobi Convention and the Abidjan Convention. Since the launch of the Regional Seas approach in 1974, 18 programs have been established around the world, in which more than 140 countries participate, covering nearly all of the world’s marine ecosystems, including open-ocean ecosystems. They are: Antarctic, Arctic, Baltic, Black Sea, Caspian, Eastern Africa, East Asian Seas, Mediterranean, North-East Atlantic, North-East Pacific, North- West Pacific, Pacific, Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, ROPME Sea Area, South Asian Seas, South-East Pacific, Western Africa and the Wider Caribbean. The scope of regional seas programs is geographically vast. While many regional programmes, banks and donor organizations use regional seas programs to manage or channel their investments, implementation is usually at national level (even if the strategic importance is regional) (Bensted-Smith and Kirkman 2010). ►http://www.unep.org/regionalseas

Regional Fisheries bodies are made up of a number of states or organisations that have agreed on a formal fisheries arrangement. The structure could be a multilateral management entity such as Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMO) or Regional Fisheries Management Agreements through which member countries directly establish management measures, an advisory body that provides member with advice and a coordination/development function, or a scientific research organization that only provides scientific advice. Several of these bodies are administered or supported by the FAO.

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC/UNESCO), whose purpose it is to promote international cooperation and to coordinate programmes in research, services and capacity-building, and to apply knowledge for the improvement of management, sustainable development, the protection of the marine environment, and the decision-making processes of its Member States. IOC is recognized through the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) as the competent international organization in the fields of Marine Scientific Research and Transfer of Marine Technology. 

The GEF works with a number of implementing partners and other leading marine institutions that include UNDP, UN Environment, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), the World Bank, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), NOAA, WWF and IOC/UNESCO. The regional banks are important investment partners for supporting the LME process.

There is thus a wealth of opportunities for partnership activity, co-financing and partnerships for SAP implementation activities; the general weakness has been in the lack of coordination between entities mandated with responsibility for coastal and marine areas, and thus the full potential benefit of partnerships is not realized.

The GEF support to the TDA process has built strong relationships between national institutions and regional partners. There is, however, a problem with sustaining these partnerships beyond the life of LME projects, so there is a need for these to be strengthened through formal agreements in support of the LME management concept in the long term.

Special Areas and Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSAs) as defined by the MARPOL Convention are administered by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). Special Areas are areas for which mandatory methods for the prevention of sea pollution are required, while PSSAs are areas that require special protection because of their significance for ecological or socio-economic reasons, and their potential vulnerability to damage by international maritime activities. ►http://pssa.imo.org/#/intro

Financing strategy

The SAP should include a detailed financing strategy to determine which mechanisms (intergovernmental, governmental, NGO, donor, investment and private) are available for financing the priority activities identified in the SAP. These financial mechanisms should be identified as early as possible in the TDA/SAP process. The involvement of the private sector could be particularly useful in sustaining SAP implementation activities in the long term.

The design of the SAP usually accounts for estimated costs for agreed actions and lays out funding plans. This links closely to the sustainable financing section of the Governance toolkit (Section 2.4 Sustainable financing) and LME Project toolkit (Section 2.6. Financing, additional cost and co-financing).

4.2 Good practice in NAP implementation: Elements for formulating NAPS and operationalisation of National Interministerial Committees

A National Action Plan (NAP) or National Action Programme (or sometimes National Strategic Action Programme) is a national document that describes objectives, targets and interventions to be achieved at national level. NAPs provide a very important national basis and a foundation for the agreed regional actions in the Strategic Action Programme, while also standing alone as a commitment to implement national actions ►TDA/SAP Manual – Chapter 11, section 4.11

As of 2014, only 6 Strategic Action Programmes for LMEs had included NAPs for implementation in the regional SAP (Duda 2014). NAPs tend to vary considerably in nature and structure, depending on the country. The process of development of NAPs also differs, with some LMEs developing NAPs alongside the SAP, and others developing NAPs once the regional SAP is agreed.

In one example, the Bay of Bengal LME Project facilitated the development of a regional TDA and SAP. As part of the process, national SAP consultations were used to review and prioritise actions relevant to each country. The SAP was updated to reflect the national prioritization process before it was endorsed and adopted. The SAP included (1) a series of actions to be coordinated through a regional mechanism under a second phase of the BOBLME Project (the SAP Implementation Project) and (2) selected national actions that would be taken up by each country in their own NAP, and recognized as contributing to overall SAP implementation.

The NAP process must be closely linked to the SAP process to ensure that the content of the two are closely related and that they reflect the transboundary priorities identified in the TDA. Without that close link, the NAP may lose its cohesiveness and risks becoming a to-do list of national priorities for policy reform. This requires a strong working relationship between organisations and conventions already working on national-level policy reform, and the institution/s delivering SAP implementation (UNDP 2017).

NAPs provide an opportunity to involve multiple national sector interests, and to incorporate actions for implementation into national budgets. Thus, national inter-ministerial coordination mechanisms need to be closely involved with the development of the NAP.

Formulating National Interministerial Committees

The objective of the TDA/SAP process is to achieve high level support for the transboundary management of an LME, and as one of the first steps to achieving this, establishing a committee at national level can build a firm base of support in each of the participating countries. The value of establishing an efficient IMC is significant. It is important for IMCs to have a clear mandate, at least endorsed for administrative purposes, but preferably also legally endorsed for purposes of legitimacy and accountability. IMCs at national level serve to facilitate the inter-ministerial dialogue necessary for cooperation. Where possible, committees already established for the purposes of ICM or MSP should be used and expanded to make the most efficient use of resources.

Representation on Interministerial Committees

Since IMCs can and should play a key role in national and regional ocean governance processes, they should be permanent structures in ocean governance arrangements. They are important for linking regional to national to local levels vertically, as well as connecting sectors within countries, at national level. This is, however, usually not the case, and IMCs will often be constituted for the purposes of a process (ICM, MSP) or project.

IMC should be formed from a range of organisations concerned with marine and coastal management. Ministries or departments that should be considered include at least those responsible for the Environment, Oceans, Fisheries, Tourism, Minerals and Energy, Protected Areas, Foreign Affairs, and Ports/marine transport. Other agencies such as rural development, social welfare, culture, finance, energy and statistics and academic institutions may also have roles relating to the marine environment. The mix of relevant agencies will vary between countries and also within countries over time as activities and issues of concern shift in nature and priority (McConney et. al. 2016). Membership should be at Permanent Secretary / Director General level or higher if possible, to ensure a direct line of communication to Ministers.

Comprehensive sector representation is critical. Community level and private sector inclusion in IMCs is also significantly important and should be encouraged. Traditionally, the private sector has been less involved than NGOs and civil society. The presence of a strong civil society (NGO and private sector) representation on IMCs can improve the input of these groups into the LME TDA/SAP process.

Establishing a new IMC takes time, and the process should be given due attention to get the best results.

Adoption of existing Interministerial Committees

In countries where permanent IMCs do exist, or where they have been constituted for the purposes of another project, it would be good practice for an LME Project to adopt or use these same structures where possible. An example of this is presented by McConney et. al. (2016) for St Kitts and Nevis, where an informal National Interministerial Committee (NIC) developed out of an existing Project Steering Committee for a marine EBM project in 2010.

On the inception of the ASCLME Project, the existence of Sustainable Development Committees for the marine and coastal environment that had been established by the EU-funded Regional Programme for the Sustainable Management of Coastal Zones in the Indian Ocean (ReCoMaP) Project were identified. These committees were still functioning effectively in the Seychelles and the Comoros. The ASCLME project adopted these committees and co-funded meetings in certain instances. Once the ReCoMaP project closed, ASCLME continued to use the same committees on an ongoing basis. This took advantage of the national institutional memory of the ICZM process, and helped to link the LME process to the development of an ICZM protocol to the Nairobi Convention for the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) countries.

Interministerial Committees and GEF IW

The importance of having functional IMCs at national level has long been recognised as an important tool for the GEF IW portfolio, and within this context, most LME Projects have aimed to constitute or support these structures within their participating countries. The GEF evaluation office adopted the formulation of IMCs as one of the process indicators in 1998.

Establishing an efficient technical team, under the IMC, from the same ministries, can ensure the collection of sound, verified information at national level to feed into the TDA process. It is also extremely beneficial to involve universities and research institutes, NGOs and the private sector in committees from the start. Stakeholders from local communities, subsistence and artisanal fishers and other coastal dwellers should also be included to ensure that their knowledge and interests are represented. The common approach of establishing a committee in each participating country can begin to build consensus from the start of the process.

It is essential to get national agreement on the lead agency for coordination of these committees, ideally an agency that works well with other national partners. A healthy exchange of information is useful, and might be facilitated by a good lead agency. In the case of the ASCLME Project, three organisations were nominated by each participating country to coordinate data and information, capacity building and cruise coordination. The selection of the three leads was made by the countries against a clear Terms of Reference. The lead organization for Data and Information was the South African Environmental Observation Network (offshore node) which is a facility of the National Research Foundation, hosted by the Department of Environmental Affairs. The same lead was also responsible for coordinating an inter-ministerial team for the development of the Marine Ecosystem Diagnostic Analysis (MEDA), the equivalent of a National Diagnostic Analysis, which also provided the primary national technical input into the regional ASCLME TDA (ASCLME/SWIOFP 2012).

Establishing a new Interministerial Committee

In the early 1980s, the focus for establishment of IMCs was in support of ICZM processes. In the 1990s, the focus changed to sustainable development, and further to climate change and ecosystem-based approaches as well as the blue economy, since 2000.

In the case where an LME project is either supporting existing IMCs, or considering new ones, the first step will always be to identify and evaluate what is already in place, and thereafter design or confirm a mechanism that will best serve the needs of the project and the countries in the long term.

Countries in most LMEs exhibit diversity in size, mode of governance, number and arrangement of marine related ministries, culture and socio-economic characteristics.

An approach recommended by McConney et. al. (2016) in establishing a new IMC is to:

Outline the functions that the committee is expected to carry out, drawing on existing documentation of governance,

Determine what mechanisms are in place, or have been tried in participating countries and territories to carry out these and related functions,

Develop generic summary guidelines to establish/strengthen mechanisms, and

Use a participatory approach to monitor progress with the establishment, strengthening and operation of these mechanisms over the duration of the Project.

The presence of a representative interministerial committee can help the process of development of National Action Programmes, as national policy interest will be well known by the IMC and response times for consultation with various ministries should be shorter. IMCs can provide an important vertical link between regional SAP development and national policy adaptation and NAP development.

Many Strategic Action Programmes mention the establishment of IMCs as targets for the implementation of EBM at national level; for example the Caribbean LME Project (CLME+) states that target participating countries should have:

Sustainable national inter-sectoral/ministerial committees or equivalent mechanisms established or operational in at least 75% of the countries within the first five years of the SAP;

Sustainable national inter-sectoral/ministerial committees or equivalent mechanisms established and operational in at least 90% of the SAP participating countries within the 10-year SAP implementation period.

Although an important tool, IMCs have not been used by every LME Project and are not relevant in every situation. The Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem Project I (BCLME) for example, was designed with five outputs, the first of which was:

Effective intra and inter-project coordination and support through the establishment of a Program Coordination Unit (PCU) leading to the creation and functioning of the Interim Benguela Current Commission (BCC), and the identification of, and provision of resources for, Lead Agencies and Inter-ministerial Committees in each of the participating countries.

This was soon revised however, as it was recognised that with only three countries as participants, most of the relevant ministries were already present on the BCLME Project Steering Committee at regional level, and IMCs were not needed. Instead, the Project fixed a single lead agency for each country and introduced the Activity Centres and Advisory Groups. National Interministerial Committees are now planned for phase III.

In the Humboldt Current LME, Interministerial Committees were planned and implemented, meeting about twice a year. They are uncharacteristically large, with ±50 members each. Members formed smaller technical working groups around specific issues (TDA/SAP, risk analysis, Ocean Health Index, etc.). A group of 15 were selected from IMCs for technical oversight and decision making (McConney et. al. 2016).

In both the Gulf of Guinea LME and the Guinea Current LME Projects, the Governance module was directed at improving socio-economic conditions through

recovery of depleted fish stocks

reducing ocean pollution, and 

restoring and maintaining habitats in support of a healthy ecosystem.

The establishment of IMCs in each GCLME country helped the SAP to be agreed upon and signed. National Programs of Action (NPA) and National Action Plans (NAPs) focussed on reversing fisheries depletion, reducing and preventing pollution, and restoring degraded habitats. They were prepared and approved by member states (Abe et. al. 2016)

Functions of an Interministerial Committee

An IMC should follow international principles for good governance (accountability, effectiveness, efficiency, equity, inclusivity, legitimacy, participation, responsiveness and transparency, while also being responsive to national and local level requirements. The characteristics of IMCs are expected to differ between countries, but some universal objectives that an IMC should seek to attain include to:

Involve stakeholders comprehensively:

State actors - government agencies, parastatal bodies

Non-state actors - NGOs, CBOs and academia

Private sector - from small to large enterprises

Promote an enabling environment that ensures opportunity and support for stakeholder participation and encourages change agents such as individual leaders and champions

Have a clear mandate that is at least administrative (politically endorsed) but preferably legal (for legitimacy, accountability)

Have well documented processes that are available to all stakeholders (for transparency, accountability) to ensure:

Internal communication among stakeholders; provision of national input to regional projects and organisations; receipt and distribution of input from regional projects and organisations; appropriate national representation at regional level;

A system for documentation of activities, contributing to institutional memory, with outputs easily available to all stakeholders (for transparency and responsiveness);

Have an institutionalised mechanism for regular review, evaluation, learning and adaptation (for efficiency, effectiveness and responsiveness);

Serve to integrate sectors and actors involved in marine affairs at the national level;

Function as a two-way linkage between national and regional governance processes;

Address other functions specific to their scope and mandate including, inter alia, using marine ecosystem-based approaches, social-ecological system frameworks, risk analysis and resilience or vulnerability concepts, the details of which will differ by circumstance and change over time. (McConney et. al. 2016)

The CLME+ coordinated a study of ten LMEs, which found that the global state of IMC implementation termed National Interministerial Committees (NICs) has been highly variable, although the appreciation of the importance of IMCs has increased with time, both within successive series of projects and across the IW portfolio. The status of implementation of IMCs was also found to be very variable. In some cases, the IMC is a high- level committee and there is an additional technical committee; in other cases the IMC is the only national level committee and it has a direct role in implementing project activities.

In regions where IMCs were not successfully implemented, some suggested reasons include:

A lack of appreciation of their importance,

More interest in technical aspects of the project,

Recognition that IMCs were a burden on already overworked national staff,

Unwillingness to pressure (reluctant) countries, and

Belief that it should be the role of national actors to establish IMCs (McConney et. al. 2016).

Challenges that have been identified include:

Lack of will and/or capacity for organisation at the national level;

Lack of funds to operate IMCs;

Perception that project specific IMCs are too burdensome and that IMCs should be permanent


IMCs not properly incorporated in project design;

Project management unwilling to push countries to establish IMCs

Issues of mis-matches of scale and scope have impacts on IMCs in several ways:

Topical scope of IMC (topical focus is too wide (e.g. Sustainable Development, climate change) or too narrow (e.g. fisheries governance);

Geographical scope of IMC too narrow (e.g. coastal zone management) or terrestrial (climate change);

Stakeholder and sectoral scope of IMC is too narrow (e.g. few different state or non-state actors);

Transboundary scope of IMC too limited (e.g. only national matters receive attention and few external linkages are used);

Factors explaining inactivity of IMCs after their establishment included:

ineffective leadership;

disinterest of parties involved;

inability to dedicate time;

lack of stipend or travel

support for participants;

inability to get follow-up commitment from members;

disagreement on the state agency that should chair the NIC; and

political interference or changes.

These are also barriers to their establishment. IMCs in other LME regions appear to suffer similar challenges (McConney et. al. 2016).

The CLME+ project also conducted a survey of 41 CLME+ project countries and territories. Approximately 35 IMCs were identified and contacted to identify lessons learned. That study found the governance arrangements to be more complex in large countries with several levels of governance and with governance devolved to local levels. In some cases, IMC-like arrangements were found at sub-national level as well. It was difficult for the study to determine which IMCs were active or inactive; of 25 current IMCs, 26% were considered to be inactive with meetings or activities either infrequent or non-existent.

The 35 IMCs fell roughly into 5 categories, with 37% focused mainly on marine governance, 26% on fisheries governance and 14% on the environment. 18% focused only on ONE sector or topic (e.g. fisheries governance, or ICM). Some were mandated by law but others had a looser arrangement.

Lessons learned / points to consider

Operating costs of IMCs are often not adequately addressed, this includes financial cost but also transaction costs of keeping a diverse group of stakeholders interacting,

Processes within IMCs are often poorly documented and institutional memory is often poor, and

IMCs should have an institutionalized mechanism for review, so that the functioning of the committee can be measured and improved where necessary.

Recommendations from the CLME+ study that can be used by other LMEs include:

1Clarify the specification of IMCs to determine more precisely what are or are not IMCs

2Set out the several types and stages of IMCs that are of interest and potential for CLME+

3Obtain more detailed information from countries to identify successes and best practices

4Provide activity incentives for CLME+ project countries to establish or strengthen IMCs

5Promote IMCs as critical mechanisms for marine governance beyond the CLME+ project

6Assist progressive countries to advance their IMCs as models of success to be replicated

7Develop a handbook of guidelines for establishing and operating IMCs in CLME+ countries (McConney et. al. 2016)