Press release


January 31, 2013

President James Michel has sent a video message to the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit, which was presented during the inaugural ceremony this morning. Mr Michel was unable to attend the event due to the disaster relief operations on Mahe and La Digue this week, and was represented by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jean-Paul Adam. The Summit was inaugurated by the Indian Prime Minister, Dr.Manmohan Singh, and attended by the President of Kiribati, Mr. Anote Tong,  President of Guyana Mr Donald Ramotar and the former Finnish President Ms. Tarja Halonen.

In his message, the President commenced by quoting the Mahatma Gandhi’s words: “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed,” as a reminder of the motivations which have left the concept of sustainability without the necessary political will of many nations, especially as many delegations left last United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in disappointment.

“Many nations, and many politicians, remain unconvinced that we are on the verge of a global meltdown. They continue to live in denial! In negotiations on climate change, we are fragmented into groups– into “clubs” of interests. But we should never forget that we need to face a threat that affects us all.  As citizens of individual countries, we may delude ourselves into thinking what is beyond our borders doesn’t affect us.  But as citizens of the world we cannot continue to tolerate inaction,” said President Michel.  

Mr. Michel stressed that by opting out of the negotiations some countries are opting out of the future of our planet and denying future generations of “a fair deal on life.”

“We are robbing the planet of a potential sustainable solution based on shared responsibility.  Avoiding such a solution creates a future where no one will be better off – we will all be worse off. We need to be bold as leaders. Again, to quote Mahatma Gandhi, we must become the change we want to see. We have to stand for the future of our people and other nations. We have to take decisions and actions which need to be taken. Seychelles has been and will remain at the forefront of this activism for true sustainability,” said Mr. Michel.

President Michel noted that Seychelles has placed emphasis towards sustainability by  increasing the percentage of protected areas to more than 50% of land territory in 2011, which is the highest in the world, as well driving sustainability at the regional level during Seychelles’ chairmanship of the Indian Ocean Commission for the past 15 months.

“Islands are showing the world that sustainable development is achievable for the present generation. We showed that we can lead even if we are small nations with limited resources and capacity. We are speaking out because this is the kind of future we want and need.”

The President noted that island nations are part of the global climate change solution because they have large areas of ocean which absorb carbon, to make ‘blue carbon’ as more than 55 per cent of all carbon is captured by living organisms in marine areas.

Mr. Michel called on all Indian Ocean states to find ways to harness the potential of the blue economy notably marine-based tourism, fisheries and coastal and marine resources, and also to  protect their resources in the long run. 

“Too often, global trade and investment is driven by multinational companies extracting resources from oceans, without enough thought given to either protecting the resource or ensuring that the people of that region are benefiting enough.  So many developed and industrialised nations are prepared to subsidise unsustainable fishing practices, and unsustainable resource extraction.  And yet there is never any talk of subsidising marine protected areas.”

President Michel commended India for its global leadership capacity to support the cause of islands in a meaningful way. 

“We fully appreciate the role that India played at the recent Conference on Biodiversity to co-host with the Global Island Partnership a special forum on island biodiversity.  India as an oceanic state is leading by example both in terms of committing to protecting key sites of marine biodiversity, and in promoting sustainable development within the Indian Ocean.”

Mr. Michel also saluted India’s leadership in the context of the Indian Ocean Rim Association, the only pan-Indian Ocean international organisation, of which India is currently the chair.