Economies collapsing, unemployment skyrocketing with poverty set to become widespread and the climate crisis showing no sign of easing has provided a strong call to question the way in which we have built our economies and societies. COVID-19 has exposed the fault lines and the entrenched inequalities that we had once taken as natural. Experts around the world are brainstorming solutions and acknowledging that nature has to be intricately linked to the solutions.This is not new for Seychelles.
Since 2016, the Seychelles’ Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT) has been providing financing opportunities to build a ‘bluer’ future, based on a healthy environment, equity and social inclusion and the generation of wealth through diversification and value-addition. To achieve this, SeyCCAT has sought to invest in nature-based solutions and supporting marine biodiversity research.
There is still so much we do not know about the ocean, near shore and further afar. SeyCCAT’s Blue Grants Fund is providing funding to projects that seek to better understand various ecosystems and keystone species. They include projects on understanding the connectivity of coral reefs in the EEZ of Seychelles, establishing a baseline for parrotfish and a marine biodiversity baseline for Fregate Island.
One of the planet’s most unexplored areas is the Indian Ocean, the Nekton Expedition delved to depths of 250 meters around the Seychelles archipelago. SeyCCAT co-financed research on, amongst others, apex predators, seagrass and algae, ichthyoplankton (fish larvae) surveys.
It is through these investment in marine science that will provide valuable data and evidence which can inform policy and management of marine biodiversity, thereby providing us solutions for long-term sustainability for our economy and societies.
Economic and social inclusion
In times of economic turmoil, countries have often turned to grey industries and increasing employment opportunities by focusing on new grey infrastructure projects, and sometimes at the expense of nature. The main international financing organisations that are providing the much-required resources to re-build have insisted that there is a need to “build back bluer” as Karin Kemper, the Global Environment Director at the World Bank presented at a recent webinar. This would require channeling people to sustainable activities that would provide alternative livelihoods.
SeyCCAT is co-financing initiatives where marine biodiversity provides people with an opportunity to work with nature, generate wealth and improve their quality of life. These projects include a community-led mangrove rehabilitation initiative, and providing programmes to channel youth to blue careers through a Blue Economy Internship Programme and a Marine Scholarship Programme. Additionally, SeyCCAT is supporting an initiative that will directly benefit women from low-income backgrounds. They will be taught to create fertilizer from seaweed, which will enhance their ability to contribute to enhancing the nation’s food security whilst also, generating an income for their homes.
Nature-based Climate solutions
Finally, the most pressing and persistent concern of our time is climate change. Seychelles is a leading proponent for nature-based solutions to address climate change. In 2020, SeyCCAT, in partnership with the Government of Seychelles, and supported by Pew Charitable Trusts, University of Oxford, University of Seychelles and The Nature Conservancy are collaborating on an initiative to map and quantify the contribution of the seagrass meadows in the Seychelles’ EEZ to absorb carbon dioxide and contribute to the global call to address climate change.
Tomorrow, our Coastal Wetlands and Climate Change Project will launch its inception video. #WatchThisSpace