Press release

African SIDS look to adapt and become resilient in the face of Climate Change

September 8, 2014

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa organised a side event in the margins of the Small Island States meeting in Samoa, where Foreign Minister Jean-Paul Adam was invited to voice Seychelles position on a panel.  The focus of the event was on African SIDS developmental challenges and ways to overcome and capitalise on opportunities in an era of climate change.

Chairing the event was Dr Carlos Lopes, Under Secretary General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of the ECA who stressed the unique set of circumstance facing African SIDS. Unlike other SIDS groupings, African SIDS lack a coherent organisational structure, are less active as a groups internationally and their socio-economic development covers a wide spectrum in global rankings.

Dr Lopes remarked that by using the concept of the Blue Economy, innovative approaches to tackling the adverse effects of climate change in Africa could be reached by investing in renewable energy sources, which could make African SIDS leaders in the renewable energy field.  The Under Secretary also added that Africa and its Islands must use the oceans to their full potential to achieve sustainable growth and maximise opportunities for their peoples.

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jean-Paul Adam said that African Islands have a unique opportunity to build on the unprecedented endorsement and statement of the African Union recognising the specificities of African SIDS.

“The AU has said that island development is intrinsic to Africa’s success. And we recall that one of the architects of pan-Africanism, Kwame Nkrumah emphasised that Africa needed to liberate the ‘whole of Africa and it’s islands” the Minister noted at the outset of his remarks.

“Africa needs reclaim its oceans which will benefit all African States and espouse the concept of the Blue Economy which has become the cornerstone of the 2063 vision African Union vision” Minister Adam added while welcoming UNECA’s initiative to help African SIDS to map a Blue Economy pathway.

Minister Adam further commented on the need for Africa to invest in domestic institutes to implement projects, as international bodies often neglect the need to give objective data. Objective data is essential for exploitation of resources on a sustainable basis, he emphasised. Africa would also need to implement sustainable management plans and generate as much capital from oceanic resources by creating an African brand linked to sustainable management of the ocean.

Key to overcoming the adverse effects of climate change and creating opportunity is rooted in information sharing and cooperation. The Minister highlighted the bilateral cooperation, that can be replicated by other African states that exists between Mauritius and Seychelles who have a joint application to co-manage their bordering maritime continental plateaus.

Minister Adam expressed his desire that the climate conference to be held next year in Paris is substantive and recognises the challenges that climate change poses for Africa and its islands and that real financing options be made available.