A year at a glance – 2020
Angelique Pouponneau, CEO of SeyCCAT
What a year it has been! 2020 will definitely be one for the books!
We welcome two new board members: Minister Naadir Hassan, the new Minister responsible for Finance and Mr Adnan Awad representing The Nature Conservancy. Both are ex-officio members of the Board.
In 2020, in line with the debt-swap agreement, Seychelles legally put 30% of its waters under protection. SeyCCAT has continued its resource mobilisation efforts to support the implementation of the marine spatial plan.
Although delayed, the Blue Grants Fund went ahead attracting a record number of applications that requested more than US$ 3 million. We made certain adjustments because of COVID-19 by providing our support online. We strengthened our commitment to sharing and partnerships to advance Seychelles’ ocean and climate commitments.
We are happy to share some of the outcomes of the work we did in 2020 and take a look at what 2021 might hold for SeyCCAT.
Celebrating 5 years
As we celebrate 5 years of SeyCCAT, we reflect on the achievements of the Trust as an organisation and our journey. We are fulfilling our obligations to our partners under the debt-for-nature swap agreement, and increased funds available to Seychellois for sustainable fisheries and the Blue Economy via the Blue Grants Fund. The fund has delivered on sustainable growth through inclusive finance.
To showcase this, we launched the Blue Grants Fund Progress Report 2017 – 2019 reflecting on 3 years’ worth of grants management and the impact it has had so far. The guiding theme of inclusion and accessibility stands out as blue finance has reached every corner of the Seychelles community, benefiting the people in Seychelles regardless of their level of formal education, gender, social standing, or any other factor besides having a viable idea.
Investing in people and developing skills
2020 was another record-breaking year. The Trust received 75 applications from all our eligible groups. It is heartening to see that we have an equal number of applications from non-governmental organisations and businesses. The process for the large grants of BGF#4 is still in the review.
Despite the health restrictions in place and an adjustment to our communication strategies, SeyCCAT continued to invest in people. With the support of the SWIOfish3 project, we now have a dedicated team offering capacity-building services at every stage of the Blue Grants Fund process. At a time when upskilling is important, SeyCCAT’s workshop on writing project proposals and budget development was open to all. Of the 65 who attended, 11 went on to apply for a SeyCCAT grant.
We have successfully identified 7 projects for the small-medium grants with most grants focused on education and awareness amongst different target groups, especially, children and youth.
We look forward to announcing the successful large grants in February 2021.
Committed to sharing
Despite being confined to the shores of Seychelles, SeyCCAT’s commitments to sharing did not stop. Over the past 12 months, SeyCCAT has hosted or been invited to more than 12 webinars and has been identified as a case study for sustainable financing for marine protection that is worth sharing.
SeyCCAT was invited by numerous organisations like the Conservation Finance Alliance (CFA) and the Commonwealth to share more about the SeyCCAT model. The webinar with the CFA was particularly successful for us. With impact investors on the call, we successfully attracted a new grant to support the Seychelles network of protected areas. The SeyCCAT model continued to gain traction as many delved into the options for MPAs with the collapse of tourism as a result of COVID-19. As a model not dependent on tourism, SeyCCAT emerged as an avenue to finance the gap for marine resource management. It was further recognised as a best practice for the Blue Charter Marine Protected Areas Action Group.
With COP26 approaching and the pandemic still menacing the world, the nature-based solutions advanced by SeyCCAT emerged in the limelight at the London Climate Action Week, the opening session of the Race to Zero and the UNFCCC’s climate-ocean dialogue.
Finally, we ended the SeyCCAT@5 celebrations with a webinar on partnerships for ocean conservation and climate adaptation and co-hosted the Seychelles’ Ocean Symposium.
People in focus: Elizabeth Simeon, an aspiring entrepreneur
We meet Elizabeth Simeon at the Au Cap Beach – a long stretch of white beach on the eastern side of Mahe. She is in the process of turning the seaweed into compost. Elizabeth joined WASO’s project to learn the process and gain financial literacy skills so she can make some extra money to help make ends meet.
She explains that the project has had a positive impact on her financial situation. Although she was already in a relatively stable position, she tells us that since partaking in the project, ‘my life is more comfortable financially, and the extra money is a big help.’
‘I did not have much to do” before the project, especially since she was retired. She describes the project giving her a “joie de vivre”, and tells us ‘I look forward every Monday and Thursday to come to work’. Previous studies have indicated that female-led seaweed farming has led to a profound shift in gender relations in patriarchal societies.[3} Although Seychelles is already a matrifocal society, with women being the traditional head of the household, the women agree on the mental benefits which employment can bring.
Women in Action and Solidarity Organisation, a non-profit established in 2005, launched a project that works with unemployed women to sweep some of the seaweed accumulating on the beach and turn into compost for sale to support the domestic and agriculture markets. The women also, learn key entrepreneurship skills that will benefit them beyond the life of the project.
‘I see this project as benefiting the community with the introduction of new natural fertiliser and to help women in difficulty increase their income,’ – says Elizabeth
Read more about the other entrepreneurial seaweed-sweeping ladies.
Coastal Wetlands and Climate Change Project
Although the science is delayed, the Coastal Wetlands and Climate Change project is well underway. The priority this year was raising awareness about seagrass meadows, as critical habitats, to address climate change. This year alone, more than 500 people now have a better understanding of why seagrass meadows are important.
Tara Michel secures 1st prize for her poem for the Voice of Seagrass Meadows competition.read more
SeyCCAT commemorates the 5th anniversary of the Paris Agreement.read more
Seagrass finally gets the recognition it deserves as critical both nationally and internationally.read more
More excitement lies ahead for 2021! The science will kick off (fingers crossed). We also, expect to get a Creole word for seagrass that is distinct from ‘gomon’ (gomon is the Creole word used to refer to both algae and seagrass) and successfully integrate blue carbon in Seychelles’ revised more ambitious climate plans.
At the 5-year mark, SeyCCAT reflects on its origins as a sustainable financing mechanism to support ocean and climate leadership and to provide resources for an ambitious commitment to protect 30% of Seychelles’ waters.
Now that the commitment has been realized, the implementation of the marine spatial plan is of the essence. SeyCCAT re-focuses and re-prioritizes its primary goal to mobilizing resources to support the system of protected areas in Seychelles. We have so far received the donation of an impact investor for the development of the management framework of the high biodiversity areas – a component of the marine spatial plan that was yet to secure financing.
With a Blue Grants Fund annually capitalized with US$ 700,000 and the near completion of the Marine Spatial Plan, SeyCCAT has an opportunity to be more strategic with its grants-making programme and to ensure there is a system-wide impact across the network of protected areas. There is also, a need to evaluate how best to strengthen SeyCCAT to ensure it can deliver on its crucial mandate as financing and governance are the two most pertinent issues to ensure the system of protected areas is a success. SeyCCAT will develop a three-year business plan and explore financing options for the system of protected areas, in particular, looking at open water MPAs.
For the first five years and beyond, partnerships have been crucial to our success, There is a lot to be grateful for. We thank the Government of Seychelles, The Nature Conservancy, The World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, Pew Charitable Trusts, the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association, the Waitt Foundation, Ocean5, our local partners and members of our grants and finance committee. Thank you to the people of SeyCCAT.