Photos L-R (Matthew Morgan, Krishna Ashok, Matthew Morgan, Matthew Morgan, Jeanne A Mortimer)
Where it all began…
In 2015, the international community signed the Paris Agreement and in less than a year, the ambitious Paris Agreement entered into force. Central to the Paris Agreement is the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).The NDC is a document used by countries to communicate their contribution towards achieving the global temperature goal and the global goal for adaptation. It is mandatory for all countries (regardless of economic categorisation) to submit an NDC every five years with each subsequent one increasing in ambition. The Seychelles submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) in 2015, which is now its NDC. In early 2021, Seychelles will submit a revised and/or updated NDC.
Within the Seychelles’ NDC, reference is made to the absence of blue carbon habitats in its national greenhouse gases emissions inventory. The Coastal Wetlands and Climate Change Project and the Ministry of Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment provides the Seychelles an opportunity to integrate blue carbon habitats, in particular seagrass meadows and mangroves respectively, within the country’s NDC for both its mitigation and adaptation value.
Photo Credit: Matthew Morgan (ICS)
Its mitigation value is the power of these habitats to sequester and store, predominantly within their soils, significant amounts of carbon. More importantly, they sequester carbon in a way that we can measure and manage. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has developed a supplement to the 2006 IPCC guidelines on national greenhouse gases emissions inventory which recognises three coastal ecosystems (mangroves, seagrass and salt marsh) for their quantifiable mitigation value. The Seychelles has both mangroves and seagrass meadows. This project will focus on seagrass meadows in the Seychelles in view of the scale that is expected to be found in the Seychelles.
For the Seychelles to claim a nature-based solution as a mitigation component of its nationally determined efforts, it needs to be able to measure how this is reducing emissions, and how it can manage this function effectively.
Additionally, they have adaptation values which include stabilising the sea bottom, maintaining water quality and providing nurseries for fish and marine organisms and thereby, supporting local economies. Through their protection and management, we increase the resilience of our planet to climate impact.
The intent is for the Seychelles’ NDC to include blue carbon habitats for both its mitigation and adaptation value. To achieve this, the Government of Seychelles, in partnership with the Seychelles’ Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT) supported by Pew Charitable Trusts will undertake an ambitious piece of work, this is the Seychelles’ Coastal Wetlands and Climate Change Project.
Photo credit: Jeanne A Mortimer
Outputs and Benefits
The main outputs of the project are the mapping and blue carbon value calculations of the seagrass habitats’ sites. These estimates will then be provided to the Government of Seychelles to be included and form part and parcel of the:
Seychelles’ Updated Nationally Determined Contribution
The Government of Seychelles will be submitting a second NDC aiming to be more ambitious than its 2015 NDC. With the support of SeyCCAT, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and The Nature Conservancy, the Seychelles’ updated NDC includes blue carbon language for both seagrass and mangroves. See more on Seychelles’ NDC news.
Minister Flavien Joubert (Ministry of Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment) speaking at the Ocean Climate Ambition Summit (January 2021) session on “Elevating the ocean in climate action: Ambition & ocean-based solutions in national climate goals”
The Team and Partners
The PEW Charitable Trusts
The Protecting Coastal Wetlands and Coral Reefs project is a project donor and offers policy and scientific advice to the execution of the Coastal Wetlands and Climate Change Project. Through the meaningful partnership established, the Pew Trusts work closely with the SeyCCAT to successfully support the Seychelles to integrate coastal wetlands into their climate commitments. Hear from Tom Hickey, Senior Officer.
Government of Seychelles (GoS)
The Government of Seychelles, through the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), has committed to including an ocean chapter in the NDC, which will also, integrate the blue carbon potential of two habitats, namely mangroves and seagrass meadows. SeyCCAT works closely with DECC to provide GoS with language and data to include in the NDC and Third National Communication(TNC). All data collected during this project will be shared with the Government of Seychelles and hosted by Coastal Adaptation and Management Section under the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change.
The Nature Conservancy
John Verdieck and Beatriz Granziera (International Climate Policy department) from The Nature Conservancy are contracted to assist Pew Charitable Trust and SeyCCAT with support on developing the language for the NDC and the Third National Communications. Additionally, Beatriz will also assist with the preparation of the Seychelles delegation to COP and ensure that the information collected through this project feeds to the Marine Spatial Planning.
The University of Oxford
The University of Oxford in partnership with several local institutions will lead the Seychelles Seagrass Mapping and Carbon Assessment Project. This project will build the scientific baseline regarding seagrass distribution, extent, and soil carbon stock that is necessary to support the inclusion of seagrass protections into Seychelles’ NDC. To better understand the location and extent of seagrass, researchers will collect satellite images of seagrass beds throughout the country. As images can be affected by cloud cover, water clarity, and ocean floor features, local researchers will also collect field data to develop a validated map of seagrass distribution and extent. To estimate seagrass carbon stocks, soil cores will be collected from meadows and analyzed for their carbon content. This carbon data, combined with the field-validated seagrass map, will provide for the first time a countrywide estimate of the seagrass carbon stock, and give policymakers in Seychelles the scientific baseline to include seagrass in the country’s NDC as a nature-based solution to climate change. Hear from Dr Gwilym Rowlands, our very own Earth Observation Scientist on the details.
The University of Seychelles James Michel Blue Economy Research Institute (UniSey BERI)
UniSey BERI will be the University of Oxford’s local partner in Seychelles. UniSey BERI will play a pivotal role as the local scientific partner and adviser to SeyCCAT. It will assist with the training workshops and the fieldwork that will be carried out. UniSey BERI will also be a part of the data-sharing agreement once fieldwork results are available. Hear from Dr Jerome Harlay on how this project benefits Seychelles’ only University.
The task of ground-truthing is dependent on stakeholders with human resource capacity. SeyCCAT will make a request for assistance for the process of ground-truthing based on their location and capacity to assist with this process.