SEYCHELLES ENVIRONMENTAL POLICIES AND COMMITMENT GET ROYAL APPROVAL
(Posted 16th November 2013)
The extraordinary environmental protection work of the Seychelles, and the fact that this tiny Indian Ocean island nation has devoted over 50 percent of its territory to territorial and marine protected areas has found favour at the highest level of the Commonwealth, of which the Seychelles are a member. None other than HRH The Prince of Wales has recognized this massive commitment to a greener world when he publicly commended the Seychelles for their groundbreaking policies, laws and regulations to protect the environment. Prince Charles is of course known as an ardent advocate for a greener world and his endorsement will go a long way for the Seychelles to gain greater recognition and perhaps a greater influence in the world as climate change and rising sea levels continue to be one of the greatest threats to mankind ever known.
President James Alix Michel responded to the commendation by saying: ‘We must strengthen our efforts to establish protected areas which contribute towards carbon reduction, and Seychelles is proud to have designated 50% of its land territory as protected- the largest proportion in the world. We have committed to declare 30% of our Exclusive Economic Zone as protected ocean areas, which form part of our Convention on Biological Diversity targets. We discussed [with HRH The Prince of Wales] how we can work together to stop the further deterioration of our ecosystem and slow down climate change as we are both passionate about these global concerns’.
The President spoke to Prince Charles about the blue economy concept which Seychelles is advocating and the way it can be developed through policies and programmes, as well as the HRH’s own charitable organizations. President Michel then added: ‘We discussed how we can work together to stop the further deterioration of our ecosystem and slow down climate change as we are both passionate about these global concerns’.
The President also discussed the ‘Debt for Adaptation’ swaps that has been endorsed by this Commonwealth meeting. It is a practical tool that Seychelles has proposed towards addressing both the debt burden of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) as well as their need to urgently mobilize support for climate change adaptation.
In this regard President James Alix Michel added: ‘We discussed the ways to enhance sustainable fisheries by creating marine-protected areas and leveraging financing to mitigate the loss of income from reduced fishing over a period of time, but raising the value of fishing in the long term, so that fisheries becomes more viable’.
Piracy in the western Indian Ocean was also a topic of discussion, where the role that Seychelles has played in fighting the maritime threat was elaborated, in particular the success of Seychelles’ anti-piracy operations. In closing President Michel said: ‘Your Royal Highness, it has been a great pleasure to meet with you today, and we would like to welcome you to the shores of our beautiful Seychelles. I look forward to many more years of friendship and cooperation with the UK’.
Prince Charles firstborn son and second in the line to the throne, HRH The Duke of Cambridge, spent his honeymoon in the Seychelles on North Island and was able to experience firsthand what results the protection of the environment has yielded for the Seychelles islands and will no doubt also be a valuable ally in the Seychelles ongoing struggle to have the developed and threshold nations of this world reverse their alarming trends of increasing carbon outputs which are today seen as the major contributor to the warming of the earth and the melting of arctic and other icefields. A rise, as was projected by recent UN reports on climate change, of between 26 and over 80 centimetres of ocean levels by the end of the century will be a threat for the very survival of small island countries, foremost to be named the Maldives and some Pacific Ocean nations but also the Seychelles where UNESCO’s World Heritage Site at Aldabra could end up under water. Watch this space for future news from the
Seychelles Islands, on all matters regarding tourism and conservation.