Seychelles Participates in International Conference on Climate Change and Defence
Ambassador Bernard Shamlaye represented Seychelles at the first international conference on climate change and defence held in Paris on 14 October. Ambassador Shamlaye was representing President James Michel who holds the portfolio of Minister for Defence.
The meeting was organised by the French Ministry of Defence as part of a series of precursor events to the Conference of State Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) in December. It was centred on the implications of climate change for defence and provided a forum for defence authorities of various countries to exchange views on climate change factors in the analysis of international risks.
The rationale was that the consequences of climate change pose a threat to global peace and security by amplifying vulnerabilities in fragile countries and regions which may lead to crises or conflicts. Ministries of defence are identified as having particular roles in conflict prevention and resolution as well as in ensuring human security.
The event took the form of roundtable discussions preceded by interventions from panellists. The four themes covered were Pressure on natural resources and food security; Extreme weather events and human security; Implications for defence policy; and Green defence.
Seychelles was one of three countries invited to address the theme of extreme weather events and human security. The moderator of the session, Mrs. Hélène Treheux-Duchêne, Director of Strategic Affairs, Security and Disarmament in the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, described Seychelles as a strong member of the Alliance of Small Island States – AOSIS – and very active in the COP21 process. .
On behalf of the President, Ambassador Shamlaye said that small island states are already being affected by the consequences of climate change such as sea level rise and the more frequent occurrence of extreme weather events. The negative impacts would increasingly worsen if nothing was done to limit global temperature rise. Human security would be greatly affected and the socio-economic achievements made by Seychelles through four decades of people-centred policies could be eroded. The next stage of development to which the country could justifiably aspire based on its current situation could be arrested. Hence Seychelles’ strong call, within the Alliance of Small Island States, for COP21 to reach a universal binding agreement for action together with guarantees of funding for mitigation and adaptation and the transfer of technology as well as for loss and damage.
The Ambassador drew attention to the plan of action for SIDS – the Samoa Pathway – adopted at the Third International Conference on SIDS last year and called for its implementation. He also highlighted actions being taken by the country for mitigation and adaptation, including measures to promote human security.
Noting that the consequences of climate change could lead to resource scarcity and increased security threats, the Ambassador called for action to curb illicit, unreported and unregulated fishing and for the improved governance of ocean spaces.
He underlined the importance of better understanding emerging issues and of collective action: “Given the uncertainties of our times, we have to work with foresight and anticipate where the effects of climate change may be a threat multiplier in our region,” he said.
Major Jean Atalla of the Seychelles People’s Defence Forces and Mr Ian Madeleine of the Seychelles Embassy in Paris also participated in the meeting.
Thirty five countries and the United Nations, the African Union and the European Union were represented. The conference encouraged further reflection on the issue of climate change and the implications for defence and agreed on a follow-up meeting in Morocco, the host country of COP22, in 2016.