The Seychelles’ Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT), a trust-fund, created to build resilience and ensure a sustainable future for Seychelles has successfully maintained its operations during COVID-19. Its business model is a simple one. Its revenue is derived from loan repayments from the Government of Seychelles and international grans from impact investors and philanthropic organisations. The combination of the two has ensured the security of SeyCCAT’s administration and ability to continue to provide grants.
However, SeyCCAT’s impact is closely interwoven with the resilience and work of various actors in the community, such as, conservation non-governmental organisations, local micro-small to medium enterprises, researchers and scientists. They are currently facing challenges during the pandemic to continue their efforts to build the blue economy.
SeyCCAT’s impact is measured by the amount of funds it is able to disburse, the type and impact of the projects it finances and the successful delivery of objectives and outcomes of these projects.
Success of our grantees = Success of SeyCCAT
Here are some insights of the challenges that our grantees are currently facing.
- Closure of the Seychelles International Airport to Commercial Flights
Need for international expertise
From seabird biologists to PhD students from universities in Europe and North America are waiting for the go-ahead to fly to the shores of Seychelles to share their expertise and enhance conservation efforts in Seychelles. However, they have remained on standby for the past 2 months waiting for COVID-19 to pass and borders to re-open around the world. The good news is, in some instances, local conservation officers have delivered by taking on more responsibility, learning new skills and filling the gap until travel restrictions are lifted.
Links to tourism
The majority of tourism establishments are closed with minimal staff to ensure the maintenance of the grounds. Tourism establishments are often partnering on projects and their closure means that grantees do not have access to project sites, and are unable to perform their project activities as it would require support from other staff creating logistical constraints and social distancing requirements unlikely. Nevertheless, establishments will soon re-open its doors and activities will continue.
- Restriction of movement unless accessing an “essential service”
COVID-19 data gaps
In data logs of researchers and scientists, there are likely to be blanks for the months of March and April 2020. Given the inability for researchers and scientists to travel to project sites during this period, data collection has been disrupted. Hence, some projects are likely to have COVID-19 related data gaps with an absence of data during March and April 2020 or with fewer or sites included in their analysis as they were not able to undertake data collection on these sites.
- Prohibition of gathering of more than four people and closure of educational institutions.
COVID-19 disruption to knowledge sharing
The findings of many of the projects are usually presented to various audiences, such as university students, local communities and tourism establishments but this requires hosting gatherings of more than 4 people. Knowledge sharing remains a priority for SeyCCAT so it has offered its grantees the opportunity to showcase their work by hosting webinars.
The education of youth and local communities is part and parcel of conservation efforts as many grantees seek to build the resilience of various groups. From teachers contributing to the creation of a blue economy workbook, vulnerable communities learning from a new citizen’s guide to climate change and the youngsters learning about the sustainable development goals are all on hold, but hopefully, not for long.
The restriction of movement is likely to be lifted on the 4th May 2020, and most projects are likely to resume. The projects likely to face significantly delays are those who require international travel to and from highly affected countries. Nevertheless, COVID-19 and its disruption to the normal we were living has provided us an opportunity to reflect on building resilience and the Blue Economy. There is a continued need to invest in marine scientific research and the diversification of the economy. As projects are designed, it should have inbuilt resilience mechanisms such as ensuring there is capacity-building and knowledge sharing, and embracing technology as a necessity in reaching goals.
SeyCCAT will seek to embed these lessons learned in its financing framework to ensure it can continue to have impact even during times of crisis.