Seychelles a voice for oceans and youth at climate conference
Seychelles was a prominent voice for the oceans at the United Nations climate change conference (COP22) that ended in Marrakech, Morocco, last Friday with Ambassador Ronny Jumeau being chosen to report on the oceans to a high-level plenary meeting.
He spoke at several other oceans events and was also in demand at activities organised by and for the youth, especially to call for their voices to be better heard in the climate change negotiations
Mr Jumeau, Seychelles’ Ambassador for Climate Change and Small Island Developing State Issues, delivered a report on the oceans and climate change to a High-Level Event on Accelerating Climate Action. Fellow rapporteurs to the plenary were the Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) who spoke for agriculture and food security, Norway’s Minister for Climate and Environment on forests, and the President of the World Water Council who reported on water.
Ambassador Jumeau was a constant and prominent speaker on ocean issues, including Seychelles’ pioneering role in developing the concept of a blue economy, throughout the conference.
He spoke at a press conference to promote the inclusion of marine ecosystems in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) organised by the world renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Under the Paris Agreement on climate change that came into force three days before COP22 started, countries have to submit their plans (NDCs) to tackle climate change from 2020 onwards.
There is a growing global push, especially by large ocean states like Seychelles, to include oceans, seas and coastal marine ecosystems in NDCs as a means to tackle, and especially adapt to, climate change.
Ambassador Jumeau consequently championed Seychelles’ debt-for-adaptation swap to turn 30 percent of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) into marine protected areas, marine spatial plan (MSP) and development of a blue economy at a side event on Making Adaptation (to climate change) Effective through Ecosystem based Approaches.
His presentation led to calls from the organisers of the event, including IUCN (the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the world’s largest environmental network) for Mr Jumeau to be an ambassador for ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) to climate change. EbA is the conservation, sustainable management and restoration of natural ecosystems to help people and communities adapt to climate change. This includes oceans, seas, coastal habitats, coral reefs, wetlands and mangroves, etc, in the marine sector.
Mr Jumeau was also a keynote speaker at a side event on Building Resilience for Climate Change Adaptation in Archipelagic and Small Island Developing States where he championed Seychelles’ groundbreaking work to find innovative solutions and financing to tackle climate change. The event was organised by Indonesia, the world’s largest island state with more than 17,000 islands.
It was the ambassador’s presentation at Ocean Action Day, which after many years of trying was for the first time held in the Blue Zone of the conference venue reserved for the official climate negotiations between governments, that led to him being chosen to report on oceans to the high-level plenary. He spoke on Oceans and Climate: Solutions to the Core Issues (Food Security, Mitigation, Adaptation, and Building Resilience).
Mr Jumeau was also in demand to speak at youth events from the first day of the conference. These included taking part in a panel discussion on Partnerships for Enhancing High Ambition: Youth as a Catalyst for Climate Action organized by YOUNGO (Youth Non-Governmental Organisations).
He also spoke at a Commonwealth intergenerational climate dialogue entitled Walk the Talk, and a panel discussion on Intergenerational Equity and Youth Empowerment: Opportunities of Cooperation between Youth and (UNFCCC) Parties.
Fellow speakers at some of these events were from the Mauritius-based SIDS Youth AIMS Hub (SYAH) which has a very active branch in Seychelles.
It was at another youth side event by Youth for Ocean (YO) on Integrating the Ocean in the Implementation of the Paris Agreement that Ambassador Jumeau was introduced as “the Voice for the Oceans”.