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). This is a document that is 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, which each subsequent one, increasing in ambition. The Seychelles submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) in 2015 which is now its NDC. In 2020, the Seychelles must submit a revised and/or updated NDC.
“We have an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 1.4 million square kilometers which is 3,000 times the size of our islands. The highlights of our revised NDC will, therefore, be a whole chapter dedicated to ocean climate action and blue carbon as nature-based solutions to climate change.” – His Excellency, Mr Danny Faure, President of the Republic of Seychelles
Coastal wetlands, in particular, seagrass, mangroves and saltmarshes are critical to climate action. They are a “triple value” ecosystem:
- They have adaptation values – buffering our shorelines against the impacts of increasingly erratic weather patterns and coastal erosion.
- Through their protection we increase the resilience of our planet to climate impacts
- They sequester, and store predominantly within their soils, significant amounts of carbon.
Critically, they sequester carbon in a way that we can measure and manage. The IPCC only recognises these three coastal ecosystems (mangroves, seagrass and salt marsh) for their quantifiable mitigation value. And for a country 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. To achieve this, the Government of Seychelles, in partnership with the Seychelles’ Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust supported by Pew Trusts will undertake an ambitious piece of work to include blue carbon values in the revised nationally determined contributions and the subsequent Third National Communications
Photo Credit: Seychelles Islands Foundation
Blue Carbon Project 2020 – 2021
Seychelles has both seagrass and mangrove environments, with the former on a larger scale than the latter. The mangrove ecosystems are comparatively well-mapped, and it is our intention through the support of the World-Bank funded SWIOFISH project to establish a coherent baseline habitat map, as well as the drivers of loss and change. But seagrass will be Seychelles’ next pioneering ocean action. Seagrass presents a different challenge to mangroves and saltmarshes – mapping is difficult because it is underwater! Dr Jeanne Mortimer attended a seagrass mapping workshop at the University of Oxford in September to identify the most effective and cost-effective methodologies for the mapping of seagrass. There currently exists no global estimates of seagrass habitat coverage globally. Best-practices for remote sensing and validation are advancing, but relatively few pilots exist. Working with Oxford University, Pew Trusts and the University of Seychelles and local stakeholders, Seychelles intends to commit within its next NDC to fully mapping the seagrass ecosystems and using the appropriate IPCC guidance to assess their carbon value. It is clear from the last round of NDCs is that while many countries acknowledged the broad scale potential of coastal wetlands/blue carbon ecosystems, very few (if any) provided specific assessments of their carbon value and subsequent targets for their protection. The aspirations of this project is to provide further justification for the protection of these ecosystems found within Seychelles but also, serve as a model for how to conduct these assessments and inform protection.
Annike Faure is the Coastal Wetlands and Climate Change Project Manager.