Ambassador Vincent Degert - Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Republic of Mauritius and to the Republic of Seychelles
Mrs. Amanda Serumaga, UNDP Resident Representative for Mauritius and Seychelles
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is always a pleasure to be invited to speak at fora that tackle progress while taking into account the need to protect and conserve, especially in these challenging times where countries have had to address priorities.
I thus thank you for inviting Seychelles.
Humanity’s fate has always been intricately tied to that of the Ocean. Seychelles has always attached great importance to the Ocean as our people have a direct dependence on the Ocean resources for their identity, sustenance and livelihood. Both Tourism and Fisheries, our traditional economic pillars, have thrived on the Ocean.
But, with Tourism brought to its knees in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are forced to give greater attention to the Ocean in ways which will maximize greater benefits and minimize the risks to the Ocean - an ocean which is already under pressure from overfishing, illegal fishing, threats to maritime safety, and the impacts of climate change.
As responsible members of the global community, it is incumbent upon us to take bold and innovative actions to coordinate our actions to promote, develop and implement a sustainable conservation of the Ocean and its marine resources. Whether it is within national jurisdictions, the borders beyond national jurisdictions or on and below the sea bed. We need to be coherent in our actions.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
When I saw that the theme for World Ocean’s Day 2020 was “Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean” I thought how apropos this was for the World and for Seychelles.
Seychelles has shown the world that it is possible to achieve a critical balance between marine conservation and development. Since Rio+20, United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), we have been fervent promoters of the Blue Economy Concept and have continued to exert our role as custodians of the marine ecosystem.
Seychelles has banked on innovation, with the Seychelles Debt-for-Nature Swap and the Seychelles Blue Bonds, being two unique financing mechanisms to drive our Blue Economy since its naissance.
Firstly, the World’s First Debt Refinancing for Ocean Conservation co-designed by The Nature Conservancy and the Government of Seychelles, conceived in February 2016, has permitted Seychelles to buy back some of its sovereign debt and repay those loans to the independently created local trust, the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust, (SeyCCAT). Additionally, a portion of these repayments has been transformed into a grant scheme, the Blue Grants Fund, for marine conservation and climate change preparation projects.
The debt-swap has equally facilitated the Seychelles Marine Spatial Plan Initiative which has designated 30% of the Seychelles EEZ for marine protection. Through this important endeavour Seychelles has ensured that an area larger than Germany will be shielding both ecosystems and economy from climate change and unsustainable development. This milestone means that our country has reached the worldwide commitment to create 30% marine protection by 2030 (30*30) 10 years earlier and also that Seychelles has already tripled:
Secondly, Seychelles, being a nation that has always leaned heavily on fisheries, has now veered towards a more sustainable approach effectively supported by the World’s First Sovereign Blue Bonds. A mechanism through which $15 million has been made available to fund a loan scheme for sustainable fisheries for development of the blue economy. The expectation is that this will provide maximal funding and enhance the impact on diverting to sustainable fishery.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Not content to rest despite the achievements, my country is looking towards the future to further transform its economy sustainably by creating high value jobs and wealth within the marine biotechnology sector. Seychelles has secured a grant amounting to $800,000from the African Development Bank’s Group Fund for African Private Sector Assistance (FAPA) to fund the Technical Assistance and Capacity Building Project, for support to the Blue Economy MSMEs. We are expecting to create a thriving hub of biotechnology businesses that operates with sustainable use of the marine resources.
It is only through finding the exact balance between economic growth and protection of our marine environment that we can hope to truly save our oceans. Bridging the gap between the needs of our people and clean and sustainable oceans should therefore be the commitment of our Governments. As the Ocean has been instrumental in our sustenance and growth, we should now strive to ensure its preservation.
For Our Ocean is Our Future. Now, more than ever.
I thank you.