International Youth Day on 12th August provides an opportunity to raise awareness of the challenges affecting young men and women. Today’s generation of youth (people under 30 years old) comprises half of the world’s population and is the largest youth population in history. Empowering our youth, and providing them with the necessary skills, knowledge and confidence in their abilities, has an unmatched potential to stimulate our society’s progress and to help attain the sustainable development goals.
This month we focus on SDG 8, a goal aimed at providing decent work and economic growth. Having weathered the 2008 financial crisis, Seychelles economy has recovered considerably with steady income growth and relatively low rates of unemployed youth. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has struck a huge blow to her economy. Globally, around 255 million full-time jobs were lost due to Covid-19 (four times that of the 2008 financial crisis) with increased levels of youth unemployed, nor in school or training. The trends in Seychelles are no exceptions. While economic recovery may be underway, it may be some time before economic growth returns to pre-pandemic levels. Seychelles’ over-reliance on tourism, one of the hardest-hit industries in the pandemic, highlights the importance of economic diversification and striving for sustainability.
“The Blue Economy is the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystems” (The World Bank).
As an economic model, the Blue economy provides a pathway that is resilient to global crises such as climate change and pandemics. However, the youth are integral in its implementation and likelihood of success. SeyCCAT therefore, invests in young people and their potential to build the necessary skills for the development of the blue economy. SeyCCAT has funded almost SCR 1 million in a WiseOceans Seychelles’ Marine Scholarship Programme that will help address this issue. This programme (in collaboration with GVI Seychelles) hopes to bridge the gap and build connections between youth and the Blue Economy. WiseOceans believes education is key to long-term conservation and behaviour change and that creating ocean literacy for the youth is paramount. This 9-month immersive course (including 6 months of core training and 3 months of placements) aims to inspire and empower the youth. By providing networking opportunities and industry exposure, the course will help its participants build careers in the marine and blue economy sectors.
The theme of this year’s International Youth day is “transforming food systems.” Food systems affect everyone – our survival depends on it – and includes everything from how it is produced and distributed, to how it is consumed. Amongst the lessons learnt from Covid-19 is the fragility of our global food systems and the need for radical change and more sustainable, resilient systems. SeyCCAT has provided a small grant of just under SCR 100,000.00 to Shahiid Melanie (c/o Active Group) for a project that explores the route that seafood takes from the local fisherman to the market. This project aims to gather data through a Market Survey. This survey will provide an understanding of the market in terms of where and what types of fish are purchased, methods used by anglers, and whether their methods are sustainable or not. Additionally, the project will create an app called “Goute” that will help consumers save money and reduce food wastage. Projects of this kind are vital for improving and optimising the supply chain of fisheries.
Another SeyCCAT funded Small Grants project is the “Feasibility study for SEYSSI – Seychelles Sustainable Seafood Initiative.” This sustainability awareness initiative is similar to those implemented in other countries (e.g. WWF-SASSI in South Africa and Seafood Watch in the USA) that use traffic light systems to rate specific fishery species’ sustainability. Consumers can subsequently make informed purchasing and consumption choices. This project aims to test the feasibility of a similar initiative in Seychelles which, if found to be feasible, may further contribute to a positive transformation in Seychelles food system.
Our youth represents the present and the future! By turning the tide now, and moving towards sustainable resource use, we can ensure they have a bright blue future to look forward to.