Week of Diplomacy Draws to a Close
It has been a very eventful ‘Diplomatic Week’ at the Department of Foreign Affairs, starting with the Ambassadors’ Retreat last weekend to the meeting of our Honorary Consuls at the Diplomatic Convention 2018 which officially ended on Wednesday.
The working sessions which lasted three days from Monday until Wednesday were viewed by all involved as a success with extensive discussions taking place in the ‘Thematic Group Meetings’. These meetings comprised a format of groups addressing a particular sector, moderated by the ambassadors and attended by stakeholders as well as the consuls according to their personal interests in the particular sectors: Education, Environment, Social Economy, Blue Economy, Finance and Tourism. The meetings served as a platform from which the relevant government agencies could present the key issues affecting their sector and for all participants, particularly the consuls, to discuss solutions based on experiences from their respective jurisdictions.
The final day of the working program entailed a ‘compte rendu’ of the Thematic Group Meetings which debriefed the consuls and ambassadors on the outcomes of each meeting:
There was recognition of an increasing need to guide students into the private sector through youth entrepreneurship programs whilst the University of Seychelles highlighted the exchange of students and professors as the principal area in which the consuls could provide more assistance.
The Principal Secretary for Environment, Mr. Alain Decomarmond’s call for continued efforts in implementing legislation banning some plastic and polystyrene was met with enthusiasm as he reiterated the importance of solid waste management in Seychelles.
The Aldabra Clean-Up project was the subject of much deliberation as the fragility of the atoll is well-known and the urgent need for action was reflected in the number of suggestions made by the consuls to protect the World Heritage Site.
Ambassador Ronny Jumeau, moderating the Environment group, said that, “Seychelles can only remain a leading country on environmental issues and follow through on its commitments with a collective effort and the vital assistance of the consuls”.
The focal point of the socio-economic sector discussion was the alarming figure from the National Bureau of Statistics (NSB) that 40% of Seychellois are living in poverty. A presentation mediated by Secretary of State for Poverty Alleviation, Ambassador Dick Esparon, helped to dissect this figure in terms of causes and the new, multidimensional approach in which his department is tackling this issue in order to reduce poverty by the national target of 10% by 2020.
A presentation by the Principal Secretary for Blue Economy, Mrs. Rose-Marie Bargain, highlighted the importance of the small sector of the Blue Economy in coordinating sustainable development projects involving our oceans and fisheries. As the second biggest industry, fisheries forms one of the supporting pillars of our economy and consequently action must be taken to sustainably manage fishing, manufacturing and shipping.
Tourism being Seychelles’ biggest industry, a number of consuls remarked that although Seychelles is a 5-star destination, it is sometimes let down by the quality of service. It was suggested by Ambassador Sylvestre Radegonde to provide free consultancy services for small establishments, which better reflect the Seychellois tradition and culture, in order to bring up and maintain the high standards of service that a destination such as Seychelles should command.
Present at the Finance group meeting were representatives from the Seychelles Investment Board (SIB) and the Financial Services Authority (FSA) to discuss with the consuls how best to bring in external investment and how to promote internal investment. One of the possibilities explored was the increase and enlargement of services provided by banking and non-banking financial authorities as well as the provision of overseas marketing opportunities by the consuls in their jurisdictions.
Following the official end of the convention, the ambassadors were received by President Danny Faure at State House. The President thanked them for their dedicated service to the country and reiterated the importance of their work in promoting Seychelles’ interests overseas. “Our Foreign Policy should be based on pragmatism; on our country’s domestic priorities and reflect the fresh policy orientations that I announced within a highly dynamic and more complex internal environment: Transparency, Good Governance, Accountability, Poverty Eradication, Social Redistribution and Social Justice, National Unity and Reconciliation”.
President Faure took the opportunity to congratulate the DFA on a successful conclusion to the 2018 Diplomatic Convention in which the consuls played an important role by mobilizing financial resources to allow this Convention to take place on a biennial basis.
The consuls were treated to a more relaxed activity yesterday; enjoying a day trip to Silhouette Island, allowing them to meet in a more informal setting after having engaged in productive and fruitful working sessions earlier in the week.
The culmination of this year’s ‘Diplomatic Week’ is a Creole dinner which is being hosted by Vice-President Vincent Meriton at La Pleine Sainte André tonight. It has surely been a very productive week for the Department with assurances that all involved will return to their posts with renewed vigour to deliver the Department’s vision as stated by President Faure, that they all continue to “promote, protect and defend the interest and well-being of Seychelles”.